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Are You Cooking The Nutrients Out Of Your Food?

There is a great deal of evidence that tells us that some cooking methods are not appropriate for all foods. In fact, some foods retain all of their essential vitamins only when consumed raw. However, cooking does allow your body to digest other vital compounds more efficiently, making cooking a necessary part of a well-rounded, nutritious diet.

More important than the “raw versus cooked” food debate is the method which you use to cook your food. How you cook your food will determine its nutritional value when it is ready to eat.

How Should I Cook For the Most Nutritious Food?

The thick cell walls of plants make the nutrients and vitamins contained inside of them difficult for our bodies to access. When you cook plant-based foods, those cell walls are broken down. Cooking some foods can increase your body’s ability to absorb specific nutrients as well as improve digestion of essential compounds such as antioxidants and proteins.

Cooking can, however, degrade some nutrients, with some cooking methods preserving food’s nutritional value better than others. Vitamins B and C are water-soluble, so cooking them for long periods of time in water will significantly reduce the presence of these vitamins in those foods.

In particular, boiling, poaching and simmering of most fruits or vegetables is not recommended because it removes a great deal of these critical vitamins from your fresh foods. Water-soluble Vitamin C can be retained by cooking these foods without water and at lower temperatures, or by eating them raw.

Other short cooking methods that can help you retain Vitamin C, beta-carotene, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients include microwaving, roasting, baking, steaming, and stir-frying. Each of these has benefits for particular foods and vitamins, but in general, the shorter cooking times and lack of water make these methods suitable for cooking many types of foods and for preserving their nutritional value.

Tips for Retaining Nutrients While Cooking

It is always advisable to use as little water as possible, avoiding long exposure to water at high heat for most vegetables. If you sauté or steam vegetables, use the liquid in the pan as a part of your recipe to still enjoy the nutrients lost to the water during cooking. Always use as little water as possible to cook foods.

When preparing vegetables for cooking, leave the peel on and leave the vegetables whole whenever possible. This will decrease the surface area exposed to water, thereby reducing the vitamin loss. You can always peel or cut foods up after cooking if you prefer to eat them that way.

Shorter cooking times preserve more nutrients than more prolonged exposure to heat. This allows the cell walls to break down, so you can access nutrients without degrading the food more than is necessary. Quick cooking techniques like stir-frying and microwaving are shown to decrease Vitamin C loss in many vegetables.

To Cook or Not to Cook?

It may seem impossible to make the “correct” choice between eating all food raw or cooking everything. In reality, eating a variety of foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, nuts, and seeds as well as using a variety of cooking methods will give your body all the nutrients you need to be healthy.

Try to not always cook your vegetables the same way, as some cooking methods preserve certain nutrients but degrade others, and remember to eat raw foods regularly, too.

When you select varied cooking methods across time to prepare your foods, you will ensure your body has access to all the necessary vitamins and minerals your fresh food has to offer.

Let’s work together today to stop the vicious cycle of dieting and work on a clean diet where you can create a lifesytle.

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Eat Your Stress Goodbye – Stress Reducing Diet

When you’re stressed out, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to be traditional ‘comfort’ foods – think big meals, take-out, fatty foods, sweet foods, and alcohol. Let’s face it – we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, this isn’t a good permanent solution.

When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse. When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress.

Foods that Fight Stress

If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.

Filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of the diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. When it comes to choosing the foods to eat, some have a range of great properties which help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix.

Some of the best stress-fighting foods include:

  • Avocado – Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit which can be eaten in a range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings and dips, or in a smoothie. These nutrient-dense fruits have the properties to stress-proof your body, thanks to their high glutathione content which specifically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause oxidative damage. Avocados also contain higher levels of vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene than any other fruit, which boosts their stress-busting properties. However, be careful with portion control when eating avocado, as it is high in fat.
  • Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for the snacks, swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm. Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially antho-cyanin, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benefits including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress.
  • Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the stress you’re feeling. Drinking liquids which are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks or soda, can actually increase your stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can actually make you happier. However, that doesn’t mean that you can start munching on chocolate bars every time you’re stressed out – chocolate works best as a de-stressor when eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Dark chocolate in particular is best for you, as it contains more flavonols and polyphenols, two hugely important antioxidants which can help combat stress, more than many fruit juices.
  • Beef – Grass-fed beef is not only kinder to the planet and to animals, it’s also good for people, too. Grass-fed beef has a huge range of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and Vit-amins C and E, which can help your body to fight stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for more reasons to spend a little more money on organic, grass-fed beef, it’s also lower in fat than grain-fed beef whilst being higher in omega-3.
  • Oatmeal – Oatmeal is great in that it can be a filling comfort food, but also has a large number of healthy properties to actually make you feel better from the inside out. A complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal causes your brain to produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, helping you to feel calmer and less stressed. Studies have shown that kids who choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper throughout the morning in school compared to kids who had alternative morning meals.
  • Walnuts – If you’re looking for a healthy snacking option which will help you to stay better in control of your stress levels, walnuts are a great choice. There is no denying the sweet, pleasant flavor of walnuts and they can be a tasty snack for in-between meals or as part of a desert. A versatile nut, walnuts are great for salads, or add them to a sweet treat such as coffee and walnut cake.
  • Pistachios – another food which is great for snacking on and can also help to combat stress and anxiety in the long term is pistachios. Studies have found that simply eating two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day can lower vascular constriction when you are stressed, putting less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. Along with this, the rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually be quite therapeutic!
  • Green Leafy Vegetables – leafy, green vegetables should be a pivotal part of anyone’s diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of nutrients and antioxidants which help to fight off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall.
  • Fermented foods – last but not least, eating fermented foods such as yogurt can help to keep your gut healthy, which actually in turn will help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. The beneficial bacteria which are found in fermented foods such as yogurt actually have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and transmit positive mood and behavior regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve.

Putting Together Your Diet Plan

Planning your meals wisely is key to not only staying physically fit and healthy, but also to staying mentally strong and being able to best manage your levels of stress. Knowing which foods to avoid and which are the best to reach for to snack on when you’re feeling worried and anxious is important to helping you get control over your emotions and fears.

When you’re feeling stressed, you may be tempted to reach for classic ‘comfort foods’ – usually foods which are laden with sugar, very starchy, or greasy. However, although these foods can make you feel momentarily better, they will actually make you feel worse in the long run.

Having stress-busting snacks such as fresh berries, dark chocolate, yogurt, walnuts or pistachios, or even a fruit smoothie with avocado and leafy greens in it can help you to feel better in both the short and long term when it comes to stress.When it comes to combating and dealing with stress in the long run, it’s important to make sure that for the most part, you are eating a diet which is healthy and balanced.

In order to stay on track, it’s a good idea to make a meal plan for your week and plan ahead to make sure that you have a good selection of these stress-busting foods in your kitchen to make meals and snacks from when you’re feeling like stress-eating. Making sure that the majority of your meals include foods such as lean proteins and leafy green vegetables will not only make you feel healthier overall, but can improve your mental health and stress levels, too.

A good example of a healthy, stress-busting menu would be:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries or a fruit smoothie with avocado and berries

Mid-morning snack: Natural yogurt with fruit or a handful of pistachio nuts

Lunch: A whole-grain pasta salad filled with plenty of leafy greens

Afternoon snack: Dark chocolate

Dinner: Grass-fed beef with vegetables

Before bed: Chamomile tea

Of course, you don’t need to stick to this menu – but it gives you a good idea! Remember to exercise good portion control when eating foods such as nuts, chocolate, yogurt or avocado! As the saying goes, you are what you eat – so make sure that first and foremost, you’re filling yourself up with foods which are good for your mental health.

Need some help putting this all together? I can certainly help you through. Check out the latest updates from Best Lyfe Ever including my FREE mood boosting course! Plus don’t forget to share your success stories!

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DISCLAIMER:

This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.

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6 Simple Tricks for Dealing with Pressure

If you aren’t careful, pressure can sneak up and overwhelm you. Before you know it, you’re a mess. Sitting in your chair, sweating, heart racing, and dreading the thought of doing any work. Fortunately there are some tricks to dealing with pressure. With a little practice, you can turn nerve-wracking stress into pure motivation.

Count Backwards

It sounds simple, but counting backwards from 100 is a great way to distract yourself from pressure and reset your mindset. This easy trick is the perfect way to get started doing a task that you’ve been putting off. Simply sit back, close your eyes, and count backwards thinking only of the numbers instead of what is stressing you out.

Meditate

Meditation is an excellent way to relieve stress according to numerous medical studies. Clearing your mind from all thought and concentrating on your breathing leaves no room in your head to fixate and focus on what’s bothering you. Learning to meditate is one of the best ways to beat chronic stress and overwhelming pressure that there is.

Exercise

Nothing works like exercise when it comes to dealing with pressure. Not only does the act itself take your mind off of whatever is stressing you out, it also helps your brain to release positive endorphins that can make you feel great. People who exercise regularly report feeling less stress and pressure at work and at home.

Believe in Yourself

Positive thinking can be one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. The simple act of believing in yourself and knowing that you’re doing your best is a great way to turn pressure into motivation. The next time you’re faced with overwhelming pressure, tell yourself that you can do it. Whatever tasks lay before you, think positively about them and envision yourself completing them.

Enjoy What You Do

It never hurts to enjoy what you do, although this can be a difficult way of dealing with pressure. Look for the little things in the task that you like doing and complete them. You’ll find that once you start working you’re motivated to keep going. People who enjoy their jobs report feeling less pressure and higher levels of motivation than those who don’t like what they do for a living.

Stand Up and Take a Break

If nothing else is working, then stand up and take a break. Taking 5 minutes for yourself every hour is a great way to reset and refocus on the task at hand. Studies have shown that people who socialize at work, or even just stand up and stretch their legs, get more done than those who sit at their desk worrying over the task at hand.

Need help with any of this? Reach out! I have many ways I can help you through this which includes teaching you to meditate, get on a healthy path or just with learning how to live a better lifestyle and your Best Lyfe Ever! Don’t forget to also check out my FREE online course to help with boosting your mood!

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10 Ways To Sneak Some Extra Fruits And Vegetables In Your Family’s Diet

We all know by now that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it is just not easy to get them all in there. We are constantly tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food. If your family is anything like mine, they’d much rather fill up on a bag of chips or a bowl of rice or pasta instead of trying an apple or a plate of steamed broccoli. So we’ll have to get creative. Here are a few ideas to “sneak” some extra vegetables and fruits in your family’s diet.

1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie. All you have to do is throw some fruits, low-fat yogurt and ice in a blender. You may also want to add a scoop of protein powder in there for good measure. Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast ready to go. I like to sip mine in a thermal cup on the way to work. To make it even more appealing for your kids, use some frozen yogurt or a scoop of ice cream in the smoothie. They won’t believe that you are letting them have ice cream for breakfast.

2. Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day. Add some small cartons of raisins to your child’s lunch box, pack some yogurt-covered raisins in your husband’s briefcase and keep some trail mix sitting around for snacking. You can also add dried fruit to oatmeal and cereal in the morning. My family loves banana chips in their breakfast cereal.

3. Add some fruits and vegetables to your family’s sandwiches. You can add some banana, sliced apples or strawberry slices to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and anything else they will eat. You can even make a sub shop style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with some mayonnaise and cheese on bread.

4. Have a salad bar at dinner. Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the lettuce and let everybody create their own perfect salad.

5. Let them drink their fruits and vegetables. Keep an assortment of fruit and vegetable juices in the fridge and encourage everyone to drink them as a snack. Get creative. You could start “family cocktail hour” by pouring everybody a glass of his or her favorite juice over ice. Add some straws, cocktail umbrellas and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day went.

6. Try this for dessert. Put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit.

7. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks. You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or cheese. Cube cheese and serve with grapes. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with ranch dip. And of course there’s ants on a log. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it (wow, fruit and vegetable in one snack).

8. Try some new fruits and vegetables. Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, or anything else you can find in the produce department of your local store.

9. Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat. Both of these make some great comfort food when the weather gets cold.

10. Start “My Veggie Day”. Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they tried each vegetable the week before, otherwise they lose a turn and Mom gets to pick.

Incorporate a few of these ideas and you will have everyone in your family eating more fruits and vegetables in no time.

Here is another tip:

Now that everyone in the family has gotten a taste for it, make sure you always have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies available and ready to snack on.

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An Exercise In Confidence…

Did you know that confidence is a learnable skill? If you look at your life right now you will find confidence in many areas. If you are honest with yourself you will also notice areas of your life where you lack confidence.

For example, I workout almost every day and it is a huge part of my life. I love it. This wasn’t always the case. When I first learned how to lift weights I was awkward, weak and clumsy. I was always looking around the gym at the experienced people worried that they might be judging me. Had my desire to lose weight and improve my health not been so strong at the time, I very likely would have let the discomfort of the situation force me to quit and give up.

But I didn’t. I found an experienced workout buddy and started to learn. I slowly but deliberately became stronger and more comfortable in the gym setting. After a few short weeks, it was almost second nature to me. All of the feelings of embarrassment and inferiority had disappeared. I had developed confidence. The same way I had developed confidence when I learned to walk as a baby, when I learned to ride a bike as a young boy and when I learned how to drive at age 16.

There is no trick to the development of confidence. It is a predictable process that any of us can implement for virtually any action or habit in our lives.

Have you recognized this and applied this in your life?

Have you mistakenly accused yourself of not having to ability to do something due to a lack of confidence?

I want you to take a moment right now and mentally review your dominant thought patterns.

Most people have at least one area in their life where they lack confidence. For some, it could be speaking in public, for others it could be meeting new people and developing relationships. Identify that specific area in your life right now

  1. You have to identify a major goal that you would like to achieve

  2. You have to identify where you lack confidence in terms of the obtainment of this goal. I assume you lack confidence in this area because if you did not lack confidence then you would have achieved this goal by now. So identify what that blockage is:

    1. If you’re an entrepreneur, maybe you lack confidence in presenting funding proposals to other business owners or financial institutions.
    1. If you are in sales perhaps you are limiting your success by not pursuing the large accounts.
    1. Maybe you are in a relationship and you‘re not happy with the behavior of your partner, do you lack the confidence to ask for what you want?

  3. Write at least one paragraph that describes your confidence block and your current state of mind. When you imagine yourself in this situation of low confidence, what comes up for you. Are you anxious, nervous, upset, etc… Describe your state as accurately as possible

  4. Now that you are aware of your confidence blockages, you can begin to redevelop them. Define one major activity that you can implement ASAP that moves you towards your goal

    1. If you have a fear of speaking, your activity could be to rehearse a 10 minute power speech in front of the mirror
    1. If you struggle in sales, you could plan to practice and refine your sales presentation with a manager or senior colleague

  5. Write a commitment to yourself to practice this new activity every single day for the next 30 days. If you really want to commit to this, find an accountability partner and perform the activity with them so that you have a witness.

  6. At the end of 30 days, repeat step 3 again and analyze where you are at in terms of confidence. Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10

You can continue this until you reach a level that you are satisfied with when it comes to your confidence in this area of your life!

Learn additional ways to improve your mood and live your Best Lyfe by taking my FREE Perk Up Course now!

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5 Cool & Tricky Ways To Eat More But Weight Less

The title of this article closely resembles one of those pesky pop-up ads on your favorite Internet site, claiming some remarkable fitness solution “in just 30 days!”.

When it comes to weight management, most would assume that in order to lose (or maintain) a certain body weight, eating more food is entirely counterproductive.

There is some truth to this assumption; any time you consume more calories than your body burns, the excess must be stored somewhere (remember those laws of conservation of energy from high school?).

However, there are actually a few gimmick-free ways that technically allow you to consume “more” food without experiencing any weight gain.

Throughout the remainder of this discussion, we will describe 5 tricks that allow you to consume more food without gaining fat in the process. Quite literally, having your cake and eating it too!

Same Portion Size Does Not Mean Equal Calories

When it comes to different food options, the same serving size of two different items in no way means they contain the same amount of calories. As you are (hopefully) aware, a fist-sized portion of lean chicken has nowhere close to the caloric content of an equal amount of chocolate cake.

What does this mean for you desire to eat more food without suffering the consequences? Well, to do the trick, it is important to pick out foods that are relatively low in calories in relation to serving size. This allows you to technically eat more food while simultaneously keeping your calorie count to a minimum.

Experiment With Different Eating Windows

While this trick may seem like a technicality, eating all of your daily calories within a relatively short window is another way to feel like you are stuffing your face guilt-free. Though this is often cited as intermittent fasting, you are not required to follow any specific protocol.

This approach may be rather difficulty at first. Over time, however, your body will most likely make a smooth adjustment. If you can maintain the willpower and self-control to avoid eating outside of whatever “window” you set for yourself, you can all but go crazy during feeding time, while still not maxing out your caloric budget.

Don’t Spend Your Calories On Liquids

One of the quickest and easiest ways to go overboard on calories is through sugary drinks such as soda and frozen beverages. Without even realizing it, you can easily consume half a days worth of recommended calories in only a few of these items! In your noble quest to eat more food without gaining weight, this obviously leaves you much less room to work with.

Instead of spending your daily calories on sugary drinks, try consuming water or another low-calorie alternative. By doing so, you are able to eat more food without going overboard on calories.

Whole Foods Versus Their Processed Alternatives

There are many reasons why whole foods are vastly superior to the processed excuses for nutrition readily available all around us. The fact that they almost always contain fewer calories is one of them.

When food is consumed in its natural form, it is spared the refinement process, which usually involves the addition of high calorie sweeteners and preservatives.

Simply put, as far as calories go, you get much more bang for your buck by eating whole foods. While stuffing your face with fresh produce may not be quite as enticing as a pint of ice cream, at least you eat more of it!

Lastly, You Guessed It, Exercise

This one is pretty simple and probably the first thing that comes to mind when posing the question of how to eat more food without gaining weight. Exercise causes the body to need more calories to burn as fuel.

This approach is quite the opposite of the other choices we have discussed in that instead of being mindful of your total caloric intake, you can actually decrease your bottom line.

To be fair, the amount of exercise required to burn a significant number of calories is pretty high. Eating till you are stuffed and trying to undo the situation on a treadmill is not very efficient. However, getting enough exercise on a consistent basis will allow you to eat more while reducing the amount of calories your body stores.

Need some help with these and starting your path to your Best Lyfe? Check out what we have to offer and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter!

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Are You Too Self-Critical? It Could Be Draining Your Confidence

If you’re anything like me, you can be a little self-critical. I think this is many of us. However, in order to start to live your best lyfe, it’s important to take a look within. Introspection can help us learn about ourselves. It can help us see that we are not perfect and give us the right balance of doing what is right and doing whatever we want, no matter the circumstance. People who aren’t introspective often blame others for all problems, even when it’s their fault.

However, you can overdo it to the point where you are knocking yourself. When you get to this point, you can be jeopardizing your confidence. You need to find the right balance of learning about yourself and keeping up your self-esteem.

Always evaluate every situation you find yourself involved with. Don’t make assumptions as they can be wrong, without the right information. You want to make sure that you have covered all the basis before making any determinations. You want to eliminate any possibility that you are the cause of any negative situations. If you are, own up to it and try to make the situation right.

But, don’t just take the blame for everything. If you discover that you are not the cause, then speak up and let that be known. Self-critical people will tend to blame themselves automatically. This can bring down your spirits over time. It’s okay to help others when they are the responsible party. When you do this, they will be more willing to help you when you are at fault.

It’s important to pick your battles, too. If you find something minor that came up, you may want to let it go. Sometimes, it can even be worth taking the fall for these minor situations. It won’t have much impact, and by doing this, you can help everyone involved to move forward.

If you take the fall for major things, however, you are setting up to make the situation worse. The person who is truly responsible will continue to act in a detrimental way because you let them get away with it. If you are taking the blame for everything, it’s time to stop. It’s not helping, and you may not be able to reverse what people believe about you. Many people do this to keep the peace, but in the end, it’s not good for anyone. Responsible parties need to take responsibility, and the only way that will happen is to stand up to the culprits. By doing so, you will gain more confidence and make each of these situations right. You got this! Work with me today on living your Best Lyfe!

Deep Breathing Exercises and Why They Work

Deep breathing techniques are often cited as an important tool that can help you to immediately alleviate stress, anxiety, frustration, and anger. Yet, many people have difficulty practicing deep breathing exercises because they either don’t believe that it’ll help or they try once and then don’t try again. This is just one step that can help you start to live your best lyfe!

The same is true for breathing exercises, however, as is true for many other things: practice makes perfect.

The more you get into a routine of practicing breathing exercises, the better you’ll become at doing so, which will give you the ability to reduce stress, anger, and frustration easier than before.

Why do breathing exercises work to relax our bodies and minds?

The body has two systems within the nervous system: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system. Both of these systems contribute to the reasons why deep breathing exercises can calm us down.

Discover how the nature of our physiological systems contributes to the positive effects.

The Fight or Flight Response

Our biological systems have a natural ability to react during times of stress, especially in those situations where we’re facing a huge threat. As a matter of survival, humans have always had this ability. In prehistoric times, humans came face-to-face with all sorts of wild animals, such as bears or tigers.

In response to such a threat, our body activates the Fight, Flight, or Freeze Response, or FFF reaction.

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the physical sensations we get when we feel stress, anxiety, or severe anger and frustration. These can include sweaty palms, increasing heart rate, and faster breathing. The activation of the FFF response is preparing our bodies to either run, fight the threat, or freeze.

Perceived Threats

The problem with the activation of the Fight or Flight Response is that it can be activated whenever we perceive that we’re up against a threat – whether we really are facing a threat or not.

Even though we experience negative situations in our lives, this does not necessarily make them a threat to our physical well-being.

Situations involving personal relationships, work responsibilities, work promotions, verbal arguments with others, and bad news about your health or the health of loved ones are just a few scenarios that can trigger the FFF response.

Despite the fact that all of these situations may be emotionally hurtful or painful, our body’s nervous system may interpret them as physically threatening. As such, our bodies activate the natural FFF response to get us ready to fight or run away.

Triggering the Opposite Reaction

In order to tell our biological systems that the situations we’re facing don’t require a fight or flight response, we must trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system produces the opposite response to the FFF, causing a relaxation response instead.

One other important aspect of the Fight or Flight Response is the way that it diverts your blood flow. To prepare you to fight or to get ready to run from a perceived threat, blood is diverted away from the brain to the extremities in the body, such as the arms, legs, hands, and feet.

Deep Breathing Reverses This Process

Breathing exercises send the blood supplies back from the extremities (since we’re not concerned with running or fighting) to the areas of the brain that allow us to think, reason, and problem solve.

This is why breathing exercises work to calm us when we experience acute stress, anger, or frustration. Blood is returning to the brain and it becomes easier for us to think.

How to Practice Deep Breathing

There are several ways in which you can practice deep breathing to relax both your body and mind.

The simplest way to practice in times of stress or anger is to:

  1. Close your eyes.

  2. Tense your whole body for four seconds while inhaling deeply.

  3. Then exhale slowly.

  4. Repeating this three or four times can take you back to a state of relaxation and calm.

As you can see, the body’s natural ability to fight or flee from a perceived threat has been useful throughout the ages and is still useful today. However, reversing the process through breathing exercises places you in a better position to think more clearly and reason about the stress or issue that you’re facing. As a certified Breathing Coach, you can work with me today to start your deep breathing journey!

4 Strategies for Embracing Obstacles

Let’s keep it real. We’ve all been there. Embracing for another obstacle. If you’re facing some life challenges, it can be hard to remember that it’s normal to have obstacles crop up from time to time. Everyone has setbacks, disappointments, and tough times. But going through a rough patch doesn’t have to spoil your life. The key to thriving in the face of adversity is how you respond to the obstacles in your path.

Here are four strategies to help you ride through and come out on top.

  1. Decide to embrace the obstacle

If you’re having a tough time, it can be easy to feel helpless, even that you’re a victim. But it’s up to you to rise to the challenge and decide that you won’t be overwhelmed. Choosing to take control and embrace your challenge is the first step in overcoming it. Look your obstacle square in the face and resolve to meet it.

2. Be okay with discomfort

The proof that you’re embracing your obstacle is acknowledging that it doesn’t feel good. It can feel uncomfortable, heavy, even painful. There are lots of life experiences that hurt at the time but end up being for your best and highest good. From marathon training to going to the dentist to public speaking, even facing your debtors, you feel so much better once you’ve faced the worst. Remember it won’t last forever. Don’t shrink from the bad feelings. You can ride them out!

3. Make sure you have a support team

You don’t have to face your obstacles alone. It can make all the difference to have people around you who are supportive, who’ll stick by you and cheer you on when you want to give up.

If you have a cheer squad, you’ll find that extra level of energy to help get you through. And you’ll be there for your friends and colleagues when they’re facing their challenges. Once you’re part of a team who have each other’s backs, none of you will have to face life’s ups and downs alone. You’ll fight together and celebrate success together.

4. Be grateful for your obstacles

Feeling gratitude for the challenges in life might sound counter-intuitive. But think about it. Accepting the challenge, resolving to meet it head-on, and overcoming it makes you a better, stronger person. Think of how good it feels to deal with a problem and solve it. To face fear and overcome it.

Without obstacles in your life, you would not grow and learn and become a better person. Obstacles are a natural, normal part of living an authentic life. Sometimes they are put in front of us to push us out of our comfort zone and lead you to your Best Lyfe.

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How to Handle a Bully

It’d be nice to think that once you’re out of school, you’d be done with bullies for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, that can be far from the truth, as anyone who’s ever had a bullying boss, co-worker or friend can attest.

We all know what bullying looks like as a kid: name calling, pushing, meanness, just to name a few. But how do you know that someone is an adult bully?

Often, in the name of security and keeping the peace, we may let bullying just roll off our back. But if someone you know is a bully, they may take subtle actions such as:

  • Ignoring you – This is a form of disrespect, and aims to control you by keeping you guessing and never knowing. You make a request or ask a question, and don’t get a response.
  • Being late, or not showing up at all – Again, this is another form of disrespect, but it can sometimes have more serious consequences, such as missing an important appointment or being late for a meeting.
  • Starting rumors – The bully that starts untrue rumors is seeking to sabotage you and your reputation. Seeing you react (or overreact) to hearing lies told about yourself is what they thrive on.
  • Passive-aggressive behavior – Backwards compliments, deliberate procrastination, having to have the last word… these are all examples of passive-aggressive behavior that a bully might exhibit.

These are only a few examples of how a bully might act as an adult to control a situation. How you handle each situation is the key to taking away the bully’s power.

First and foremost, if you find yourself being bullied a lot as an adult, take a close look at whether you’re playing the victim. Due to your upbringing, you may not even realize that you’re doing it, but often, a bully will instinctively aim for the person who already has a victim mentality. If that’s you, you’ll need to learn to stand up for yourself and become more assertive in the face of the bully.

If all else fails, simply separate yourself from the bully. This may be more difficult to accomplish in a work situation, but be creative, and try to create space between you and the bully. The less you are around them, the less harm they can do.

Also, try to remember that most bullies end up that way because of low self-esteem and a fragile sense of self-worth. By asserting yourself, you take away the bullies power, and maybe… just maybe… you’ll show them that they don’t have to be that way. Don’t let bullies get in the way of your Best Lyfe!

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4 Strategies for Fostering Inner Peace Now

Inner peace is just one key element in your Best Lyfe Ever.

Inner peace goes beyond personal needs or goals for oneself – it’s a major contributing factor to cultivating peace in the world. How can we focus on peace for the world if we can’t find peace for ourselves? That starts with the individual, so when you make strides toward achieving inner peace, you’re really contributing on a much larger level. Feels like a big responsibility, right?

Let’s not look at it as a responsibility but as a privilege. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to contribute by working on yourself. What are you waiting for? Let’s get started on cultivating inner peace with these five strategies!

  • Learn how to be mindful

Mindfulness is all about paying attention on purpose. It allows us to focus fully on the one thing we truly have. This moment. Developing a mindfulness practice helps us to stop living on autopilot, staying stuck in the past, or worrying about the future. It sounds like a simple concept. And it is. But it’s not easy. The good news is though that in each moment, you have the chance to be mindful again. Taking up this one practice will literally change your life.

  • Don’t take things too personally

You’re focusing on yourself, but you shouldn’t be internalizing. There’s a huge difference there. If you find yourself insulted easily, try to remember that it’s not a reflection on you. The person who was grouchy at you may have just had a rough day or fought with their spouse this morning. The truth is, people rarely think about us as much as we believe they do.

  • Be still

It’s hard to be still and fully present. It’s do-able, though. And peace is found in the trying or practicing. Take time to sit on a beach or the grass outside, maybe at your local park. Instead of looking at all the people passing by and watching where they go, just sit still. Maybe you’ll want to close your eyes. Just let people pass by like clouds in the sky. You’re being present and refraining from overthinking. Enjoy the sensations of the wind blowing your hair and the sun on your face. Hear people talking without getting caught up in what they are saying. When your mind rushes ahead or wonders why a child is crying, just bring it back to your breath. You’ll find yourself smiling without even thinking about it. Now, that is inner peace.

  • Let your actions speak louder than words

This tip leads us back to where we started – cultivating peace in the world by finding it in ourselves. When you’ve found a sense of inner peace, you will naturally want to share it with others. You’ll want nothing more than to show others that peace isn’t as elusive as we believe in our fast-paced modern world. You spread peace by being kind, compassionate, and loving to others. Allow the peace you feel within fill the space and the people around you by the way you behave.

So sit back and listen to that inner peace and intuition. What is it telling you? Define your Best Lyfe starting today.

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Yoga for Insomnia

I don’t know what I did before yoga. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hardcore yogi but I certainly have days when I need yoga in my life. It helps me relax, stretches muscles I haven’t used in a long time or clears my head.

Yoga is the perfect natural cure for insomnia. The more you do it, the better you become at it and the greater effect it has on your entire being. Yoga works wonders for the body, mind and spirit. Even if you’re never done yoga before, you can jump right in with a short series of poses that are meant to relax, de-stress and prepare the body for a good night’s sleep.

Next time you’re faced with a bout of insomnia, try this series of yoga poses to ensure a deeper and more restful sleep.

Begin with a sacral massage. Lie on your back on the floor with your arms and legs out straight. Press your hands into the floor firmly but gently and pull your pelvis inward so that you are pressing the small of your back into the floor. Take several deep, slow breaths. Slowly pull your legs toward you until you are hugging your knees into your chest. Take a deep breath in, then let it out gradually. Rock back and forth from side to side, breathing gently and deeply.

Next, go into a shoulder stand.

You are still on your back, with your knees pulled in. Now you will slowly lift your feet up into the air. Place your elbows against the floor and put your hands on each side of your waist. With one swift but gentle movement, lift your pelvis off the floor with legs still straight up. Pull your waist inward as you take deep, slow breaths and point your heels skyward.

Continue to strongly support your waist with your hands as you reach your feet overhead and focus on straightening your torso with waist sucked in gently. This pose can be challenging for beginners. If you can’t seem to steady your torso so that everything is in alignment from your shoulders all the way to your feet, that’s okay.

This pose feels wonderful even if yours needs a little practice. It allows the blood to flow to the liver and other organs, and works against gravity. There is a modified version of shoulder stand where the waist is slightly bent but the feet are still up in the air, with shoulders and elbows supporting. Feel free to try this less strenuous version. Shoulder stand, like all of the inverted yoga poses, is highly relaxing and restorative to the body.

Move into Plough pose.

Shoulder stand flows easily into plough pose, which is another somewhat challenging position that comes with great relaxation and restoration benefits. From shoulder stand where your legs are in the air, pull your legs in toward your body as you gently bring your waist back to the floor to a flat-back position. Breathe deeply. Tuck your arms underneath your back as you open the chest and shoulder area for a strong posture. Pull your legs over your head and then behind you. They are out straight. Your toes are reaching for a spot on the floor behind you. Your shoulders are engaged, head tucked into your chest, and your arms are behind your back. You’re making a tipped L shape with your body. You are breathing slowly and deeply, and your throat and thyroid are receiving a nice massage by being constricted in this fashion. Hold this pose for several breaths.

The next pose after Plough is bridge.

Slowly raise your legs and unfold your body until you have returned to a supine position (lying on your back with legs straight out. In the last pose, you had your arms at your side and then tucked them under to hold a strong shoulder posture. You’ll be doing this again for bridge pose, only this time you’re going to do a backbend. So, breathing slowly and deeply, place your arms at either side of your body and tuck them under you a bit. Bracing yourself by firmly planting fee on the floor, raise your pelvis off the floor, keeping arms engaged for support. Raise your backside into the air as high as it will go. Breathe deeply and try to relax into this challenging pose. Bridge is similar to Wheel pose or a backbend, except that instead of using your feet and hands to support you, you use your feet and arms.

Relax your spine after that series of stretches, with Inverted Child’s Pose. Once you’ve breathed through a good strong bridge pose, you’ll want to give your back and neck a few moments to relax and allow the blood and healing oxygen to flow through your body. So take your waist back down to the floor and slowly bring your feet in to hug them. Give yourself a good, firm squeeze while breathing deeply. You can also repeat the sacral massage, is this is a good way to realign after that challenging series.

Move into Lotus pose/neck stretches.

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Slowly go from the inverted child’s pose and sacral massage to the lotus position. You’ll need to sit up for this. Do it with slow, deliberate but calm movements. Bring your feet in toward your pelvis to the “butterfly” position. You should be cupping your ankles with your hands as you sit up tall and strong. Legs are open and knees are bent. Firmly push your sit bones (pelvis) into the floor. This is very grounding, and allows the energy to flow to your reproductive organs. Still clasping your ankles with your hands, move your legs slowly up and down as though you’re a butterfly fluttering its wings. Continue to take deep breaths while maintaining a strong upright posture. When you’re ready, take your neck into some gentle stretches. Put your chin to your chest and squeeze your throat area. Tip your head all the way back to feel the stretch in the front of your neck. Move your head toward the right shoulder, slowly. Now the left. Next, make slow circles with your head, moving slowly, gentle and mindfully. Take plenty of deep breaths. When you constrict, you should be breathing in. When you stretch, you should be releasing air from the lungs.

While in lotus, do neck slow neck stretches: forward and back, side to side, around to the right and left, and then rotate your neck slowly in a circle to the left and right.

Locust pose.

Locust pose gives a massage to the pelvic region including the reproductive organs. Begin in the prone position, lying on your stomach on the floor with legs out straight behind you. Hands are planted firmly against the floor, pushing down, also at your sides. Begin by taking a deep breath in and pulling in your waist to elongate your spine. This is the opposite of arching your back.

Breathe again, and now shift at the waist so that you are arching, hands still firmly engaged into the floor at both sides. Move into an arched position, and work on pushing into your pelvic bones so that your legs, still straight out behind you, lift off the floor. Your arms can either be in a “superman” flying position facing forward, or you can put them straight out behind you alongside of your legs. The focus is to keep the legs and arms lifted while grounding the pelvis into the floor. Continue to breathe for several counts. This is one of the more challenging poses in this relaxing series.

Locust moves easily into cobra.

Here, you are allowing your legs to rest as they splay out behind you. Meanwhile, you are lifting the front of your body, rising from waist to shoulders, head poised in an “attacking cobra” position. Arms are at your sides with palms placed flat on the floor. You will push off from the palms of the hands and send your energy out through the ends of your feet and your mouth. Breathe from your pelvic region. This is a triumphant pose that brings blood flow to the reproductive organs.

Ease into cat and cow (go back and forth between these several times), then rest in child pose.

Once you finish Cobra, you can get on your hands and knees (as if you were scrubbing the floor) for some cat and cow stretches. These do wonders for the spine. This is basically slow, relaxed and controlled arching and rounding of your back. Involve your neck and shoulders as you alternate between cat and cow. Breathe in on cat and out on cow. Take your time. Breathe steadily. Be mindful of the stretch and how good it makes you feel. End by tucking your head and hugging your knees, essentially rolling yourself into a ball as in child’s pose. You can also do child’s pose where your knees are pulled in but you stretch out your arms

Down facing dog may be considered challenging initially.

However, the more you do it, the stronger your arms become and the easier and more effective this pose gets. To do it from child’s pose, you’ll want to remain in the prone position but then go into a “pushup” position with your hands on either side of your body and your midsection lifted. Then raise your backside into the air, keeping hands and feet engaged and strong, pressing into the floor. Dogs do this stretch naturally. For humans, the pose detoxifies the body. Stay fluid as you breathe through the stretch, allowing your body to arch and then come back to center. Hold this pose for a count of six breaths.

Down facing dog:

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Take your down dog into plank position. This is where you go into a pushup position, but instead of pushing against the floor to raise and lower your body, you simply stay still and hold the pose. Arms are slightly bent at the elbow, hands and tips of toes engaged and pushing into the floor. Breathe, and focus on keeping abdominals taut. You can even imagine the energy flowing outward toward your toes, via straightened legs. Hold this pose for six breaths.

Plank pose:

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Switch between downward facing dog and plank pose a few times – you’ll may notice your back cracking and it feels wonderful.

Now move from plank into forward fold. To do this, pull your backside up as you would in downward dog, but the idea is to walk your feet forward toward your hands, then rise your torso up until you are standing. You may have to shift yourself slightly or maybe even do a little hop to get there. That’s okay. Feet are hip-width apart. If you’re good at making the transition from downward dog to forward fold, you can swoop your arms out and upward (i.e. “spreading your wings”) so that you are standing upright as you reach for the sky as high as you can go. This provides a great spine alignment and stretch. Move slowly and steadily. Then, “swan dive” into forward fold by sweeping your arms out, bending your body in half at the waist and reaching for your toes.

Forward fold:

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Finish in a seated position for one last lotus pose, or the butterfly wings motion. Posture is lifted. Waist pulled in. Pelvis grinding down into the floor as feet push together with legs open. Clasp your feet with your hands. Open and close your legs slowly. Breathe deeply.

Lotus pose again:

Finish with a corpse pose.

This where you swing your legs around and then go from sitting to laying on your back. Place arms at your sides. You may put a blanket over you if you tend to become chilled during this final relaxation. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and evenly. Focus on keeping your body perfectly still, breathing through your diaphragm. If you fall asleep that’s okay.

Corpse pose:

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Drink Water

When finished with your yoga sequence, drink a couple of big glasses of water or herbal tea. Say goodbye to tension and hello to rest, relaxation, balance and healing. Sleep well, friend. Enjoy your Best Lyfe.

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Digestive Balance and the Ability to Absorb the Vitamins in Your Food

Sometimes we take all the supplements or feel like we’re doing the right things but we’re still not getting all the benefits of certain vitamins and minerals. As you know though in our search for our Best Lyfe Ever, we never want to do things that are not all the way in.

Some people may be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals due to something called leaky gut syndrome. This is where food allergies have caused inflammation of the lining of the stomach and digestive tract. The tiny cracks that line the stomach which allow food to pass through and be absorbed by the small intestine become larger, resulting in food particles entering the bloodstream where the body then perceives these as attacking it and sends out white blood cells as a defense. This results in inflammation or swelling of the affected area, which impacts digestion and absorption of necessary vitamins in a negative way.

Other Factors That May Hinder the Body’s Ability to Absorb Nutrition from Food:

Lack of good bacteria in the digestive tract and lining of the stomach, as a result of excess sugar intake, too many rounds of antibiotics, alcohol use, and stress. The good news is that these beneficial bacteria can be replenished by way of probiotic foods such as bananas, yogurt, garlic and onions, raw cheeses, and fermented foods such as tofu, soy sauce, pickles and sauerkraut.

Eating too fast and not chewing food thoroughly. The longer food is in the mouth and being masticated to tiny bits, the more likely a person will be able to fully absorb its vitamin makeup and benefit from the nutritional value. Saliva contains enzymes that help break down the composition of your food so that you can digest it completely. Chewing further helps this process along.

Too many processed foods and not enough whole foods. Processed foods are exposed to extremely high heat to prolong their shelf life and make them more portable and easy to prepare. Anything that has had the liquid extracted from it (think powdered soups, gravies, even juices) is probably nutritionally inferior. Consider the destruction of delicate enzymes and amino acids that assist us in deriving the necessary nutrition from said food.

Eating the wrong food combinations. Foods that are strategically combined afford the best potential for obtaining the full nutritional benefit. For example, green vegetables are great but your body will be able to use them even better if you combine with a healthy oil such as olive, an acid such as vinegar or lemon, and an aromatic such as garlic.

Cooking (or not cooking). Lightly cooking some foods (such as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli) is said to help them be processed more easily by partially breaking them down. On the other hand, something like oranges and lemons pack the biggest nutritional punch if served fresh and uncooked.

In the end this is just one step in living your Best Lyfe Ever. Nothing replaces a healthy diet and lifestyle. I can never express this enough. Eat the right foods and move your body! But don’t forget to breathe also! Enjoy your Best Lyfe!

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7 Low-Carb Hacks to Help You Feel Full All Day

Trying to live your Best Lyfe Ever but also enjoy food? One of the biggest concerns that you may have about the low-carb diet is staying full. Without a large quantity of carbohydrates to fill your meals, you may wonder if you will feel hungry.

Try these tips to avoid that low-carb hunger:  

  1. Ground almond flour. Instead of using regular flour, switch to ground almond flour for your meals. I am not a total fan of almonds and in fact I despise Almond milk but I use almond flour all the time to make some of my favorite treats such as gluten free brownies (no one has any idea).
  • This low-carb hack is filled with protein, and you’ll feel full while using it.
  • You can make a variety of items with almond flour, such as pancakes, muffins, or bread. Almond flour is versatile and filling, so you won’t miss regular flour.
  1. Cauliflower rice. Did you know that you can use cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes? Ok… Let’s keep it real though. It doesn’t taste anything close to regular rice but with the right spices and seasonings, it can be very good.
  • Cauliflower is a healthier choice than regular potatoes and is considered a lower carbohydrate vegetable. You can grind up and mash cauliflower to make mashed flakes.
  • You can also use ground up cauliflower as rice and create a pizza crust from it. Top the pizza with your favorites. I recommend buying it precut to save time. I tried grinding it once and it was not worth the time and aggravation it took if you ask me.
  1. Spiralized vegetables. A spiralizer is a simple kitchen tool that you can use to make vegetables into tiny strips that resemble noodles. If you don’t have one, then you can use a sharp knife to cut up the veggies into small strips or you can hack like me and buy them pre-cut. Many local grocery stores have them pre-cut now or you can find frozen varieties.
  • This low-carb hack lets you make your own healthy pasta and noodles.
  • Zucchini tends to be the most popular vegetable to spiralize in the kitchen. However, you can also experiment with eggplant, peppers, and other veggies. I love spiralized butternut squash! The key is to pick a firm one that can be cut into little pieces with ease.
  1. Lettuce wraps. One of the easiest low-carb hacks is to make wraps or tortillas with lettuce instead of flour items.
  • Wrap your favorites such as meat, vegetables, and salsa in a lettuce wrap to reduce the carbohydrates.
  • The wraps will still taste delicious, but they’ll have lower calories and more nutritional value. You don’t have to stick with iceberg lettuce and may want to try other varieties as you experiment in the kitchen. You can even use cabbage leaves to make the wraps.
  1. Vegetable chips. Regular potato chips won’t work on a low-carb diet, but vegetable chips you make yourself at home are fine.
  • Bake your chips in the oven and serve them with sea salt, olive oil, or spices.
  • You can make vegetable chips from zucchini, eggplant, squash, and other foods. Pick your favorites and cut them into bite-size pieces. Kale, spinach, and sweet potatoes all taste delicious as baked chips.
  1. Use citrus flavor. Lemons and limes make great low-carb substitutes for traditional salad dressings and sauces that may have too many calories. A squeeze of lemon or lime can add instant flavor to a salad, soup, casserole, or other dish. A simple olive oil and lemon dressing with a bit of salt and pepper is my favorite on a salad!
  • You don’t have to worry about carbs with this flavor option. Experiment with it in the kitchen and try adding it to different dishes.
  1. Be creative. The key to staying satisfied on a low-carb diet is to think of creative ways to use the healthy ingredients in your kitchen. A simple tomato and lettuce can turn into a fun meal with the right low-carb sauce. I personally love Primal Kitchen products! They have great unsweetened versions of basics like ketchup and salad dressings!
  • Don’t be afraid to try new vegetables, nuts, or seeds on a low-carb diet.

A low-carb diet doesn’t have to be boring or unsatisfying. Use these tips every day to feel full and happy while eating low-carb. A low carb diet could be just one hack to living your Best Lyfe Ever!

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10 Tips to Heal Your Gut

You can’t be much healthier than your gut is. It’s only been recently discovered just how important gut health is to overall health.

You have a lot of cells in your body – roughly 37.2 trillion! But you actually have far more bacteria: about 10 times as many. You have more bacteria in your body than you do human cells. These bacteria are predominately in your digestive tract.

The health and composition of these bacteria are pivotal to your overall health. These bacteria are necessary to digest and absorb nutrients. They also synthesize vitamins and provide some immunity from the flu virus and other unwanted invaders.

Over the last few years I have dealt with chronic urticaria. 6 doctors, no answers. It wasn’t until I started to focus on the gut did these go away. There are often many signs your body is giving you like hives to tell you there is something deep in your gut going on.

What you choose to eat and drink has the greatest impact on the flora, or gut bacteria, in your body.

 

These strategies will help you heal your gut and your body:

  1. Consider taking probiotics. Much of your digestive system consists of the flora, or bacteria, that live in your gut. There are foods that contain these healthy bacteria, but you can also consume them in pill form. Probiotics are a great way to improve your gut health.
  2. Chew your food thoroughly. The more you chew your food, the easier it is to digest. When you chew your food thoroughly, you increase the amount of surface area your digestive juices are able to attack. This creates far less stress for your digestive system to deal with.
  3. Eat a healthy diet. Eating unhealthy food is bad for every part of your body, including your gut. Maximize your health by eating the healthiest possible diet.
  4. Adjust your fiber intake. While most people need to eat more fiber to have a healthier gut, there are a few people that would do well to eat less. The recommendation from the medical community is 25-35 grams per day.
  5. Relax! Stress is hard on every part of your body, and that includes your gut. Minimizing the amount of stress in your life can do wonders for your overall health. Either remove the sources of your stress or learn how to relax in spite of the stress in your life.
  6. Sleep. Your overall health, including your gut health, improves when you get enough sleep. Most people in our society could stand to get another hour or two of sleep each night. If you’re not getting at least seven hours each night, you need more sleep.
  7. Reduce sugar intake. Sugar is considered by many scientists to be a toxin. It can be damaging to all the cells of your body. Artificial sweeteners aren’t a great substitute. Certain types of bad bacteria in your gut are able to consume various artificial sweeteners and become too prevalent in your body.
  8. Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods are essentially probiotics in food form. Yogurt and sauerkraut are two of the most common examples. Miso, kefir, tempeh, pickles, and kimchi are other options. Eat more fermented foods, and your gut will thank you.
  9. Try a plant-based diet. Many people struggle with meat and dairy products. You might find that your digestive system feels and behaves better when you focus on plant-based foods.
  10. Consume bone broth. Bone broth is made by boiling bones and connective tissues. You can purchase bone broth in the store, but the best broth is made at home. There are plenty of recipes available online. It’s very easy to make, but time consuming. I cheat by putting mine in the crockpot for 24 hours. It can be quite tasty if seasoned properly.

 

If you haven’t been paying attention to your gut health, you’re not as healthy as you could be. What you eat and drink has the greatest impact on your gut health. Not only does the food you eat impact the health of every cell in your body, but it also affects the bacteria in your digestive tract.

When your bacteria are healthy, you’ll be much healthier, too! This is just one step in the journey to your Best Lyfe!

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A 5-Minute Guide to Bedtime Meditation

Trying to live your Best Lyfe? Even if you’re careful about sticking to a regular bedtime, you may need to do more than that to get a restful night’s sleep. Otherwise, you could be lying still in your bed, but you’re still wide awake because your mind is racing.

Meditation could be the answer if concerns about your health, finances, or other issues are keeping you up.

Mindfulness practices can increase the quality and quantity of your sleep. Learn how to make bedtime meditation work for you.

Preparing for Bedtime Meditation

Create an environment and mindset conducive to contemplation. Preparing for bedtime meditation is similar to preparing for sleep in many ways.

Doing these activities will help you wind down:

  1. Slow down. If you’ve been rushing around much of the day, relax and quiet your mind. Put aside stressful subjects and tasks. Read a book or work on a soothing hobby.
  2. Turn off devices. Did you know how much blue light has an impact on your sleep? Bright screens and action movies stimulate your brain, making it harder to fall asleep. Power down your phone and computer. If you feel like you absolutely need try a pair of glasses like these cool blue light blocking glasses to filter out the blue light.
  3. Block out noise. What about noisy neighbors and car alarms? Turn on a fan or put in your ear plugs.
  4. Eat light. Heavy meals and spicy food can also make it difficult to drift off. If you need a snack, make it small and nutritious, like a handful of nuts or a glass of warm milk.
  5. Draw a bath. Soaking in a warm tub is a great way to relax. It will also raise your body temperature, which helps to prepare you for sleep. I love taking a bath with Epsom salts to help calm the body and slow down.
  6. Dress comfortably. Sleep and meditation call for similar wardrobe choices. Wear loose-fitting pajamas or other soft clothing made from natural fibers.

 

Methods and Subjects for Bedtime Meditation

You may be used to staying alert during daytime meditation. However, it’s okay to give yourself permission to fall asleep during your nighttime sessions.

Try these ideas for easing yourself into pleasant dreams:

  1. Scan your body. This is my favorite way to fall asleep especially if it’s a rough night falling asleep. Explore your body from head to toe. Check for any areas of tension that you can release by imagining that you are bathing them in warm and healing light.
  2. Listen to podcasts. Guided meditation can be especially useful for beginners. Browse online for resources like the Plum Village app or Headspace. My personal favorite is Balance.
  3. Follow your breath. Your meditation can be as simple as focusing on your breath. Inhale through your nose. Feel the air filling and lifting your stomach and chest. Relax and release the air gently through your mouth.
  4. Chant and sing. Find a mantra to repeat silently or out loud. Invent your own wording or read some inspirational literature for ideas.
  5. Learn yoga nidra. There’s a style of yoga just for sleep. Yoga nidra literally means yogic sleep, and it describes a state between wakefulness and sleep. Take classes at a local studio or online to master the techniques.
  6. Pick an object. Placement meditation can help you to calm your thoughts by holding your attention on an idea or mental image. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back. You’ll gradually build your concentration and feel more peaceful.
  7. Express gratitude. There are many beneficial objects you can choose from for placement meditation. Thankfulness is an excellent choice for bedtime. Review your day to remember the acts of kindness you received and generate warm and happy feelings.
  8. Practice your faith. Meditation is a tool that can be used to practice any kind of religious, spiritual, or personal beliefs. Adapt your bedtime rituals to serve your own purpose and needs.

 

Fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer with a bedtime meditation practice. Your nights will be more peaceful, and your days will be more restful when you use mindfulness to increase your mental and physical wellbeing. This is just one step in the creation of your Best Lyfe!

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Create your Best Lyfe Vision Board and Reach Your Goals

Ok so make fun of me as some people do. It’s all good. I know how much my vision board has helped me create my reality and my Best Lyfe Ever. A vision board can be a wonderful tool for reminding yourself about your goals each day. One of the most challenging parts of achieving goals is sticking with them. It’s easy to become distracted, lose hope, or even forget about them. A vision board is a solution for all of these challenges.

Regular use of a vision board keeps your goals fresh in your mind. Using a vision board also associates positive feelings with the achievement of your goals.

Nearly anything can serve as a vision board. Ideally, your vision board will be portable enough to carry with you. Then you can use it at any time. Poster board, cardboard, or even a spare wall can suffice. You might choose to use a notebook.

Create a vision board that works:

  1. Decide on your goals. This is often the most challenging part. For best effect, limit yourself to a few goals. Perhaps your goals are a fit body, a new car, and a vacation to Hawaii. It’s up to you. What excites you?

  2. Locate images that depict or symbolize the future you’d like to achieve. A picture is worth 1,000 words. There are plenty of sources for images: photographs, magazines, the internet, and more.
  • Find pictures that best represent the goals you wish to achieve. If you’re striving for a new car, find the exact model and color. When you look at the photo, you should get the same feeling you get when you think about the goal.

 

  1. Choose the best words to go on your vision board. A suitable word might be “Porsche” or “Honolulu.” Also consider how you’ll feel when the goal is achieved: “Excited,” “Grateful,” “Proud.” What qualities will you need to achieve these goals? “Committed,” “Powerful,” or maybe “Optimistic.”

 

  1. Mount the words and photos on your vision board. Get out your scissors, glue, or tape. Arrange everything in a way that pleases you.

 

The creation of a vision board is fun, simple, and easy. You might even enjoy the process.

Using your vision board is just as important as creating it:

  1. Keep your vision board where you’ll see it at least twice each day. On the nightstand is a great location. You’ll see it in the morning and at night. If you’re comfortable doing so, you could mount it on the bathroom mirror. I have mine on my wall in my sitting room. I can see it every morning and night when I meditate.
  2. Spend a few minutes each morning using your vision board. This can set the tone for the rest of your day. Reminding yourself of your goals each morning will point your brain in the right direction. You’ll see opportunities to help make your dreams come true. It’s then your job to seize those opportunities.
  • Look at each word and picture on the board. Take your time and visualize having those things in your life.
  1. Using your vision board before bed is just as important. Your brain is highly active while you sleep. You brain spends all night churning away, trying to find solutions to your requests. Give your brain the information it needs.Look at the items on your vision board and imagine possessing them. Experience how that feels.
  • Part of your brain will spend all night trying to make your vision board a reality.

 

Create a vision board and use it every day. I think this is one of the most important steps in creating your Best Lyfe. It’s not magic, though it sure seems that way. Keep your goals fresh in your mind by using your vision board twice each day.Give it a few months and see for yourself how well it works. Post some pictures or comments below about what is on your Vision Board.

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best lyfe ever

Overcome Burnout and Rejuvenate Your Mind, Body, and Spirit

Oh I’ve been there. How do you think Best Lyfe Ever got started? Things are tough at work, and they’re not going much better at home. You’re stressed, you can’t sleep, and your dog ran away from home. Sometimes, it just seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

It can be hard to stop the negative thought patterns that only serve to make you feel even worse.

Stress is a part of life, but there are times it can get completely out of hand. When life seems too hard to handle, it’s time to take back some control. Luckily, there are many ways to accomplish this.

Use these ideas to put mental and physical burnout behind you:

  1. Clean up your diet. I know it may not be easy but… When you’re feeling burned out, it can help to eat a healthier diet. Junk food creates more stress and load for your body to deal with. Cutting back on your calories and providing quality nutrition to your body can make a positive difference. Reaching for the junk food when it feels comforting is only hurting in the long run. 
  2. Get more sleep. Working harder or longer isn’t a solution for your burnout. Sometimes, the best option is to call it a night a couple of hours earlier than normal and get some extra rest. Allow yourself to sleep in on the weekends if you need to. Take naps. Rest helps. 
  3. Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is the last thing you need if you’re feeling frazzled. Caffeine stimulates your body and your mind. It can create more challenges than it solves. 
  4. Meditate. Meditation, listening to relaxing music, praying, or anything else that relaxes your mind can be beneficial. Avoid ruminating over the challenges in your life. Your brain doesn’t get a break unless you create one.
  5. Give yourself a change of scenery. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when the scenery never changes. Being in the same couple of places day after day can limit your perspective and close your mind to the many possibilities that are open to you. Take a weekend and go camping.
  6. Spend time with people you genuinely like. This has been shown to be one of the best ways to recover from mental burnout. Spending time with someone that makes you smile and feel relaxed can be the best medicine.
  7. Evaluate your life. Consider how you came to be in this situation. Do you need to make some changes at work, a different job, or a more satisfying relationship? Could it help you to speak to a professional? What needs to happen to prevent the same situation from happening again? 
  8. Avoid starting anything new. You already have enough on your plate. Avoid adding even more! Get a handle on your current situation first. Taking on more responsibilities will be challenging during this time.
  9. Laugh. Laughing will always make you feel better. Who’s your funniest friend? What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen? How can you make yourself laugh? A night of laughter will give you a mental reset and put you in a better position to handle the challenges in your life.

Taken too far, burnout can become a serious issue. There are many mental and physical health issues that are caused, or made worse, by stress.

It will benefit you to make managing your physical and mental health a priority. When you’re feeling burned out, take it seriously. Do what you need to do to feel like yourself again. Address your mind, body, and spirit. Start to visualize your Best Lyfe Ever. That’s just the first step before putting it into action. Need help creating it, that’s what I’m here for…

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best lyfe ever

8 Tips to Boost Your Immune System

I feel in the time that we are in with Covid-19, it’s important to talk about a healthy immune system. You might be sabotaging your immune system without even know it. Many common lifestyle habits can have a negative effect on the health of your immune system. How can you live your Best Lyfe if you may not be in the best health?

A poor immune system can leave you more vulnerable to illnesses like the common cold and the flu, and even contribute to the development of cancer and other serious diseases.

Replacing bad habits with healthy habits can bolster the strength and effectiveness of your immune system.

Consider where you could implement healthier, immune-boosting habits:

  1. Moderate exercise of only 30 minutes a day increases several factors in the immune system. The most important of these is your leukocyte count. These are the cells that fight infection.
  • Sitting at a desk all day increases the odds of catching common ailments. Go to the gym or get out and take a brisk walk every day.
  1. Avoid being overweight. Excess bodyweight greatly increases the likelihood of developing diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Studies have also shown that being overweight has a negative impact on the immune system.
  2. Watch your diet. Excess sugar consumption has a negative effect on immune system’s effectiveness when dealing with bacteria. This effect can be seen after the consumption of as little as 75 grams of sugar and continues for at least a few hours.
  • On the other hand, foods that are high in antioxidants and other nutrients boost the immune system. The best way to get all of these nutrients is by eating fruits and vegetables. Ideally, fill at least half your plate with vegetables.
  1. Reduce stress. We’re all faced with a certain amount of stress in our lives. A small amount of stress is actually good for our health. However, excessive, chronic stress has a very negative impact on immune system health.
  • Have you ever noticed you only get sick when you’re overstressed? When you’re stressed, you become much more likely to develop a variety of illnesses.

 

  1. Laughing is great for you. It decreases the level of stress hormones in your body. It also increases a specific type of white blood cell. Even the anticipation of experiencing something humorous has a very positive effect on the immune system.

  2. Avoid social isolation. A strong social network is a great boost to both your mental and physical health. Your immune system is especially affected. 
  • Those with strong social connections and many close friends have a higher level of immunity than those that feel socially isolated.
  • The feeling of loneliness can actually affect the way genes behave.
  • While this can be hard in the times of social distancing, there are things you can do.
    • Create a FaceTime or Zoom chat – have a girls night!
    • Stay connected with those you live with. Build stronger connections or simply go out for a walk with the family. Get fresh air!
    • Talk to your neighbors from across the fence or street
    • Help your community through shopping for people who are more vulnerable
  1. Get enough sleep. Most adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep to maintain good health. A lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of getting sick.
  • Insomnia can increase inflammation in the body, which inhibits your immune system’s responsiveness.
  1. Practice relaxation techniques. Since chronic stress decreases immune system function, learning relaxation techniques will help return your immune system to healthy state.
  • Experiments have shown that regular meditation has a positive impact on your immune system.
  • Try Breathwork! It’s amazing how your breath can change your life. Simply breathing the proper way can change a persons demeanor.

Boosting your immune system is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It has a significant impact on longevity. Consider how many people die from the flu and other common ailments, especially as they age and their immune system function decreases.

You’ll also notice that these tips will enhance your overall well-being, as well as helping your immune system. Eating better, sleeping more, exercising, and relaxing will make you feel better every day. You’re going to like the way you feel! It’s just one step on your way to your Best Lyfe Ever!

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best lyfe ever

A Humorous Road to Personal Growth

Personal growth can be challenging, but it can also be a lot of fun. You may even reach your goals sooner if you learn to lighten up. How would it be to learn to live your Best Lyfe if you didn’t have a little fun along the way?

Numerous studies support the conclusion that laughter is powerful medicine. However, just like any drug, it’s important to follow the directions to avoid unwanted side effects. Find out how to use humor skillfully, so it will enrich your life.

Appreciating the Benefits of Humor:

  1. Live healthier. Research shows that laughter can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, strengthen your immune system, and burn calories. It also releases endorphins that may help you to fight depression.

  2. Boost your popularity. A quick look at dating profiles will prove that a sense of humor is a very attractive quality. A lighthearted approach may also be useful for resolving conflicts and delivering feedback. Some business schools even teach humor as part of developing leadership ability.

  3. Reduce stress. Have you ever experienced relief when your boss cracks a joke when tensions are rising due to heavy workloads? Humor often drives away anger and fear.

  4. Increase your resilience. The mental and physical health benefits of humor can help you through ordinary days and difficult times. Hardships are easier to bear when you can recognize the irony in the situation.

Cultivating Your Sense of Humor:

  1. Be kind. Tasteless jokes and ridiculing others are more likely to get you fired than promoted. You want to generate the kind of humor that creates social bonds and takes a playful view of life.

  2. Smile more. Start out by looking friendly and approachable. Smiling at others will give you more opportunities to have fun.

  3. Hang out. Surround yourself with family and friends who know how to enjoy themselves. Laughter is contagious. Sharing routine activities can be just as diverting as jokes and pranks.

  4. Act silly. You could be missing out on joyful experiences because you’re worried about looking foolish. In reality, you’ll probably earn more respect by letting go of your need for approval and behaving more authentically.

  5. Think creatively. What can you learn from a comedy writer’s brain? MRI scans show higher levels of activity in the temporal lobe where spontaneous associations are made. Try new things and trust your instincts.

  6. Take risks. Being funny may require sharing your thoughts and feelings. You can start small in situations where you feel safe, like with your family or chatting online.

  7. Fake it. What if you’re having trouble finding anything funny? Even simulated laughter can lift your spirits. Pretend to chuckle and feel it turn into the real thing.

  8. Play with kids. Children are an excellent source of inspiration. Listen to their stories and join their games. Your dog may be willing to share some pointers too.

  9. Watch videos. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access a wide variety of amusing content. Watch cats shredding toilet paper or senior citizens disco dancing.

  10. Use props. Laughter is more effective when you practice on a daily basis. Keep objects around that will remind you to take a break. Decorate your office desk with windup toys. Hang a set of oversized forks and spoons in your kitchen.

  11. Shift your perspective. Almost anything can be humorous if you change the way you look at yourself and your world. Look for the entertainment value in parent teacher conferences and garbage strikes. Emotional intelligence depends on striking a balance between humor and seriousness.

Enjoy the lyfe! This is the only one we will get. Laugh your way to greater happiness, health, and success. Using humor kindly and responsibly can help you to heal and fulfill your true potential. What is your true potential? Decide today what your Best Lyfe Ever looks like.