Chocolate and beets? Get your finger off the back button, let me explain! Trust me, if you are looking for a sneaky way to squeeze some nutrition into your diet, this is where it's at.
I know what you're thinking, beets taste like dirt, unless you're weird and can eat them plain like me, so how could they possibly make a cupcake taste good?
For one, they add density and moisture not found in any baking mix or unhealthy alternative, not to mention a very pretty color that your kids (or cats) are sure to be intrigued by. Best of all, the chocolate almost completely masks the flavor of the beet.
Why are beets something you want to incorporate, even if sneakily, into your diet? Let's check out some of the amazing benefits.
Reduces Blood Pressure
The same oxygen boosting effect that occurs in athletes can benefit the average person as well by dilating their blood vessels and thereby lowering blood pressure.³
High stress job? Maybe it's time to up that beet intake.
High concentrations of betaine
Betaine is the amino acid found in beets that can help reduce risk of heart disease by lowering the levels of an amino acid that, at high levels, puts you at risk for artery damage and heart disease.
FYI betaine is also found in substantial amounts in quinoa and spinach.
It also helps the liver out big time by increasing detoxifying enzymes in the body and preventing, as well as reducing, fat accumulation in the liver. This is good for your next weekend drinking binge.⁴
Essential Nutrient Gold Mine
Beets are chock full of B vitamins, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, and potassium, to name a few. Stop wasting money on multi-vitamins.
Helps you poo
Thanks to all the fiber in a whole beet, you won't have any problems on the potty.
"Heaven forbid people should have to change their diet to improve their health."
Flourless Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe
I love this one because you can throw everything into a blender. Costco currently has cooked prepackaged beets, which completely expedite the process of cleaning, cooking, and peeling your own!
1. Bailey SJ, Winyard P, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, Dimenna FJ, Wilkerson DP, Tarr J, Benjamin N, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009 Oct;107(4):1144-55. Epub 2009 Aug 6.
2, 3, 4. FACLM, M. G. (n.d.). Whole Beets vs. Juice for Improving Athletic Performance. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from https://nutritionfacts.org/video/whole-beets-vs-juice-for-improving-athletic-performance/
Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com
When you think of your health and areas to improve upon, often you immediately think of diet and exercise. While both of these areas are extremely important to your health and require attention, there are also other aspects of your daily life that impact your health. Let’s take a look at a few of these areas and discuss tips that you can incorporate into your daily life.
Hydration Is the Key to Success
It is so easy to get busy in your day and forget all about drinking water, but hydration is a vital aspect to your overall health. It's more than just simply quenching a thirst. According to Healthline, hydration impacts your energy levels, ability to focus and concentrate, digestion, and metabolism levels.
Adequate water intake is important, but many people struggle to drink enough for different reasons.
Soon, this will become a part of your daily routine, and your body will thank you for it.
Your Skin is Your largest Organ
Not only does water benefit the inner workings of your body, but it also improves the function of the largest organ you have: your skin. Skin is often thrown to the back burner as an aspect of vanity, but it is an important area of overall health.
When your skin is healthy, it improves its ability to act as a strong barrier against bacteria and infection. In addition to daily care routines, you may want to consider creating an at-home spa day. Turn your bathroom into a steam room by running hot water in the shower to open the pores on your skin. Slather on a soothing body and face mask, and then lock in the moisture with a hydrating face and body cream.
Taking these moments to care for your skin will not only be advantageous to your physical health, but it is rejuvenating and stress relieving as well.
Healthy Teeth Are More Than Just Pretty
Just like skincare is often categorized as vanity, sparkling white teeth are also considered an aspect of appearance and vanity. While it’s true that white teeth are not necessarily an indicator of good oral health, it is still important to recognize that daily dental hygiene improves your overall health.
According to US News, periodontal disease affects one out of two Americans, increasing your risk of coronary arterial disease, peripheral arterial disease, and stroke.
Thankfully, you can incorporate simple daily habits to improve your oral health and prevent these diseases. Brush your teeth twice daily, floss at least once a day, and cut down on your sugar intake. Healthy teeth are more than just pretty; they impact the health of your entire body.
Life Isn't too Short to Sleep
You may have heard the phrase “Life is too short to sleep” or some other variation. While the implication to make the most of your time is valuable, deprioritizing sleep is harmful to your health.
Adequate sleep is beneficial to your health by:
You may find it difficult to get enough sleep, but there are some helpful tips to increase the amount you sleep and improve the quality. Try increasing your exercise and decreasing your caffeine to prepare your body to sleep well at night. If you are busy with many responsibilities, you may benefit from setting a set sleeping schedule to ensure you are getting the rest you need.
The Wrap Up
Set your intentions and develop daily habits. Prioritizing sleep, developing good oral health, caring for your skin, and staying hydrated are all important aspects of your overall health.
What is that terrible sound? Oh.. right, it's my alarm. It can't be time to get up, can it? It feels like I just fell asleep. Oh why not, another 7 minutes (hits snooze).
Typical morning conversation for you as well? If it is, and if you are hitting the snooze like I used to, please just STOP. This is completely throwing off your productivity and cognitive ability in the morning. More on that later.
Sleep, and rest in general are things we don't necessarily have to think about while doing, so we typically don't think about how to best optimize them beforehand.
They are not as passive as we may think; in fact, a lot of times we end up sabotaging our ability to properly recover because we don't think about either enough.
As a potentially widespread, undervalued asset to health and performance, taking and applying the science of sleep to our daily lives could be more life altering than many of us realize.
The Biology of Sleep
By the time we die, we'll have spent an astounding third of our lives asleep, despite our culture's promotion of a less is more attitude when it comes to sleep.¹
I myself often burn the candle at both ends, and have been guilty of buying into Margret Thatcher's comment of "Sleep is for wimps."
But, the reality is, it's actually not for wimps. It's for people who want to be elite and is an unavoidably critical aspect of human physiology.
Lack of sleep means functioning in a constant state of fatigue, causing:
Sleep to Remember
There is a natural phenomenon called the forgetting curve, where our brains forget 40% of the information just learned within the first 20 minutes of learning it. Discouraged? Don't be.
What scientists have discovered, is that while short-term memory is pretty pathetic in terms of retention, long-term memory is far more durable.
We can remember more information through a process called memory consolidation, in which information from our short-term memory is moved to our long-term memory.
This is enhanced when our bodies enter Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) "deep" sleep cycles, both of which are entered into 4-5 times per night after two stages of "light" sleep.³
The Cruel Cycle of Stress and Sleep
Stress can both keep us from getting sleep and increase if we aren't getting sleep. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 43% of adults report that stress frequently keeps them awake at night, and 21% report that if they do not sleep enough, they feel more stressed.
Very unfortunate to be the one who experiences both. Which, if that's the case, it's time to work on some stress management techniques to help with daily functioning and overall quality of life!
In fact, on average, American adults sleep 6.7 hours a night and only 20% report that their sleep is good or excellent.⁴
I used to think of sleep as a kind of linear thing, with a dosing stage, dreaming stage, and eventually ending in REM. Of course now that sounds silly when we focus on the meaning of a sleep cycle, which naturally implies something that repeats itself.
The typical adult will drift through 90-120 minute cycles, comprised of four different repeating stages.
Sleep Inertia: STOP Hitting Snooze!
When pulled from the midst of REM sleep, scientists have formally identified that temporary state of grogginess and mental fogginess, as sleep inertia.
Defined as a "transitional state of lowered arousal occurring immediately after awakening from sleep and producing temporary decrements in performance," sleep inertia can be blamed for your feelings of mental and physical dishevelment upon waking.⁶
This is due to higher levels of melatonin that is formed in our bodies during the REM stage. The longer we sleep, the higher those levels get.
Contrarily, when we wake up during non-REM sleep, blood pressure, heart rate, and brain activity are slowed down, which helps us feel awake and alert much quicker.
So back to that bit in the beginning about hitting the snooze and it's slap in the face to our productivity.
The two hours prior to waking, our body begins to go through a thaw out stage that gradually helps us wake up more easily; however, if we hit snooze, our body thinks we are returning to another 90-120 minute sleep cycle.
Physically we can wake up, but mentally the cortical region of our brain cannot. It will take our brains up to 4 hours to come out of sleep inertia when this happens.⁷
Therefore, the initial amount of energy that is required to push yourself out of bed will have a higher return on investment than the extra energy you think you're depositing by snoozing after the alarm rings.
Also, the small act of getting up when you intended to the night before, deposits a coin of discipline into your mental bank. When enough deposits accumulate in this bank, it translates into other areas of your life.
It will suck in the beginning, there's no doubt. But, if change and difficult choices were easy, everyone would do it, and we would all be fit, rich, and beautiful.
How Much Sleep Do I need?
The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep, and adolescents need around 10. Yet, like anything, there is individual variance within this generalization.
I know people who function great on 4 hours, others who must have 8 or they are major crank-pots, and some who are chronically functioning in sleep deprivation (6 or less) and supplementing liquid naps to make up for it.
Bottom line, find what works best for you. If possible, go a week without setting an alarm, which for many of us this may need to happen on a vacation, and see how much sleep your body wants based on when it naturally wakes up.⁸
Making time for a full nights rest is not only highly undervalued in our society, but also scoffed at. Yet, there is no out talking the science that has proven sleep is a critical part of human physiology that should be taken seriously.
Sleep is not for wimps, Margaret Thatcher, it is for the elite.
1, 8. Foster, Russell. Ted. Accessed December 13, 2018. https://www.ted.com/talks/russell_foster_why_do_we_sleep.
2. Aguirre, Claudia. Ted. Accessed December 13, 2018. https://www.ted.com/talks/claudia_aguirre_what_would_happen_if_you_didn_t_sleep?language=en.
3. Marcu, Shai. Ted, Ted, www.ted.com/talks/shai_marcu_the_benefits_of_a_good_night_s_sleep#t-267995.
4. American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep.aspx.
5. "Stages of Sleep - Non-REM and REM Sleep Cycles." Tuck Sleep. Accessed December 13, 2018. https://www.tuck.com/stages/.
6. Tassi, P., and A. Muzet. "Sleep Inertia." Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports.
August 2000. Accessed December 12, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12531174.
7. Robbins, Mel [VNV]. The 5 Second Rule: The Surprisingly Simple Way to Live, Love, and Speak with Courage. S.l.: Post Hill Press, 2017.
Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com
Approximately 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, yet two-thirds remain obese. One of the reasons behind this epidemic is the fact that people get lured into trying a fad diet — sometimes more than once — that promises to torch calories and melt fat without changing your diet or hitting the gym. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race, and that means losing weight the safe way with a combination of diet, exercise, and wellness-focused discipline.
Address Mental health
Mental illnesses such as binge eating disorder, night eating syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression should be treated in conjunction with a diet and exercise program. Studies indicate that there’s a link between mental health and obesity — depression can prompt obesity, and obesity can prompt depression. Along with focusing on losing weight and learning that food is for survival and not comfort, it’s crucial that underlying mental health issues are addressed in order to break the vicious cycle.
Manage Your Stress
Stress-related, mindless eating involves consuming food — sometimes in a large amount — even when you’re not hungry. Approximately 27 percent of adults in the US admit that eating is a form of stress management, while 34 percent say eating unhealthy foods due to stress is a habit. Not only do these actions create feelings of guilt and shame, but they also make it impossible to lose weight and keep it off. While seeing a therapist can help you manage your feelings, there are several wellness-based approaches you can take to manage your stress levels.
Make it convenient to work out
Not having time is one of the biggest excuses people use to avoid working out. Make that excuse next to impossible by setting up a home gym equipped with cost-effective equipment, like adjustable resistance bands, a Swiss ball, and kettlebells. Check out local resale shops or online websites that sell previously-used goods to see if you can find these items at a lower cost. Instead of paying for an expensive gym membership, bring the instructor into your living room by downloading a workout app to help you with form, safety, and motivation.
Make Healthy Eating Fun
The words “balanced” and “diet” need not feel like a punishment. In fact, you can create endless combinations of tasty dishes and snacks utilizing healthy ingredients that don’t taste like rabbit food. Take up a cooking course, or scour YouTube for ideas. The more variety you have in your diet, the less apt you’ll be to slip.
To ensure safety, be sure to consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise plan. This is particularly important if you have any underlying medical conditions where overexertion or food restriction may have a counter effect on your wellness. Remember, don’t beat yourself up if you have a slip up. Not only is it normal, but it can help you become stronger for the long term.
It's that time of year again. The time of year we all start realizing that we either need to rollover or refresh some of our goals and ambitions.
Why do New Year's Resolutions end up just being a nice idea for 92% of the population anyways?¹
Setting targets is easy, actually striving to reach them is another story. You know what I'm talking about.
But who is to say that this isn't the time where we overcome some hurdles, turn on some lightbulbs, get serious, and make sh*t happen?
Make Time or Excuses
The most common self-limiting statement I hear in the fitness world, is "I don't have time for that."
Trust me, I get the whole not having time concept, but let's be real with each other for a second, what you should be saying is "It's not important enough to me." Right?
If something is important enough, taking yourself or a loved one to the ER for example, then you make the time.
Okay, yes. I understand that would be an emergent issue, but what I'm really saying is that things we need to do, like eat, go to work, sleep (for some of us anyway), take the dog out, and so on, are things we always have time for.
These are necessities. Things we must do for optimal human functioning. Hold up though, couldn't we now argue that with all the research coming out on how physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of death due to its links to cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc, that exercising is a human need?²
That we are made to move.
That when we don't move, our bodies start to feel gross, even when we have chronic pain and think that rest is the answer.³
But if it's not important to you, meaning you probably don't understand the importance of it (you don't have a why), then you will not make time. And real talk again, it will catch up to you in one way or the other.
So what do you say you and I make a deal? The first goal for 2019 (no we wont' be using the word "resolution" around here), is to determine what is actually important to us and why it is important.
The next goal, determine when this fits for our schedule. Many times we don't realize that if we plan our days a little more intentionally, it frees up quite a bit of room for things we say we should do.
More real talk, you know as well as I do that if you don't verbalize this to someone, or financially commit to something, the chances of you actually doing and achieving what you would like to set out to do is far less likely of happening for more than a few weeks.
That said, our third goal is to find the person or thing that will hold us accountable. You know yourself, what will keep you motivated?
I'll share with you why it has been easy for me to stay motivated to workout. It has become automatic. But, it wasn't always that way. It was one of those things that it would happen if I had time or energy.
Now, it is just going to happen like eating breakfast or brushing my teeth. That will be an hour of my day, which by the way is only 4% of your waking time.
As an athlete, and even a few years after, I dreaded working out. It made me feel tired just thinking about it, and I felt like I had to do it to stay in shape and not get pudgy.
I now look forward to and love working out. What's the secret? I get to see people I enjoy being around, I get to release some stress from the day giving me a mental reset as well as physical reset, I don't have to think about what I'm doing at the gym, I can just go and do the work.
During a very emotionally stressful time in my life, the gym was like my sanctuary. It kept me sane. Had I not been able to get rid of that stress, I can't imagine the horrible alternatives I may have chosen.
Long story short, the hard work there then translates to other areas of my life. Such a win, and it can be for you too!
Let's Get Started
First step, write out those goals, friend.
Next step, pick your form of accountability. I can help.
Third step, establish your routine.
Fourth step, persevere dang it! Don't give up after a week because it's hard. You're better than that and know it.
Fifth step, keep coming back. Leave me a comment below, start a conversation, ask a question. I would love to help how I can, for as long as I can!
1. Diamond, Dan. "Just 8% of People Achieve Their New Year's Resolutions. Here's How They Do It." Forbes. January 02, 2013. Accessed December 28, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/#1487c797596b.
2. Carlson, Susan A., E. Kathleen Adams, Zhou Yang, and Janet E. Fulton. "Percentage of Deaths Associated With Inadequate Physical Activity in the United States." Preventing Chronic Disease15 (2018). doi:10.5888/pcd18.170354.
3. Geneen, Louise, Blair Smith, Clare Clarke, Denis Martin, Lesley A. Colvin, and R. Andrew Moore. "Physical Activity and Exercise for Chronic Pain in Adults: An Overview of Cochrane Reviews." Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2014. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd011279.