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.
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.
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/
I get asked this question all the time, is cardio the best way to burn calories and fat? Sparing my political correctness for another time, I must tell you that if you have asked this question, your intentions are good, but misguided.
Many people for some reason have this belief that running yourself into a sweaty mush on the treadmill is the best way to get a good workout and burn fat and calories. While it is true that getting a good run, row, bike, etc. in, is a great way to improve health, it is not the only way to achieve those things, nor is it the best way.
The way I see it, there are two very important indicators for success in relation to human fitness: 1) variety of movement and, 2) workout dynamism.
There is nothing more boring than just sitting or standing in the same spot at a gym for 30-40 minutes on a piece of cardio equipment. I mean, not everyone likes Orange Theory, okay?!
Variety of movement
The American College of Sports Medicine paired up two high intensity 12 minute workouts, a Kettlebell workout vs Interval Cycling workout, to compare metabolic results, and their findings may surprise you.
The Kettlebell workout included three circuits of four exercises performed using a style called Tabata, which consists of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, and repeat for eight rounds. The Bike Interval session included three 30-second sprints of “all-out” effort, followed by 3 and a half minutes at a recovery pace.¹
The result? The Kettlebell workout not only elicited significantly higher levels of total calorie expenditure, but participants were in a fat burning zone longer and consumed greater levels of oxygen when compared to the bike workout.
Long story short, when we throw weights and different time combinations into a workout, our bodies benefit far more than staying in one spot on a piece of cardio equipment. Nowadays, this is typically seen as CrossFit methodology, or HIIT training.
Let’s get to that second word right away, dynamism. It is defined as “being characterized by vigorous activity and progress”, and when you read that I hope in your mind you put extra emphasis on vigorous activity and progress.
Think energy, power, drive, ambition, spirit, all those good things, and there you have dynamism.
As a trainer, I oftentimes see people come into the gym and spend a couple hours going from machine to machine at a lackadaisical pace, or even worse, sitting and texting.
For some people, this is very therapeutic and what they’re looking for in their workout, and that’s great, we are all different. But, as we started this article on the notion of burning calories and fat, this is the least effective method of training for that; therefore, I am unapologetically anti-machine hopping with phone in hand.
The main takeaway, is that the shorter more intense workouts like HIIT, CrossFit, and (of course) the workouts on this site, are going to give you the most bang for your metabolic buck.
If you haven't yet, register a free account to access the Workout of the Day and join the self-made movement to get the workout sent to your inbox every Monday and Friday.
1 Author Daniel J. Green Contributor Daniel J. Research Special Issue 2017 - ACE-
SPONSORED RESEARCH: HIIT vs. Steady-State Training. Retrieved from
Everything causes cancer these days. At least that's what it's starting to feel like. I won't lie to you, part of me was appalled while researching this article, but knowledge is power and no matter our socioeconomic background or stage in life, it's important we know what is safe and unsafe, especially when it comes to something as central as food.
We won't be covering the list of 900 chemicals accumulated by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that circulates in our man made environment, but we will specifically take a look at one pesticidal, chemical villain involved in preserving our food, and the current war waging between one brave groundskeeper and the superpower Monsanto.
Pesticides are nasty stuff for multiple reasons, according to Nature Education. They can throw off entire ecosystems by leaking into ponds, rivers, streams, and kill the animals that live there.
They can also leak into our drinking sources, a process called leeching. Water contaminated by pesticides is no joke for us humans as it is unsanitary and harmful to drink.¹
Pesticide infiltration in our drinking water is bad enough, yet these chemical culprits also coat common foods. Our fruits and veggies are sprayed with pesticides to keep bugs away and so farmers don't lose large portions or their entire crop.
From a business point of view, this makes a lot of sense, but from the health side of things, it is resulting in substantial repercussions, some as potentially extreme as terminal cancer.²
Quick Facts: what you need to know
Studies looking at pesticide use and cancer have shown a positive relationship between exposure to pesticides and the development of some cancers, particularly in children.⁶
So I know what you're thinking, "What am I supposed to eat?" I had the same thought. It's difficult enough to eat healthy, let alone be cognizant of the fact that our produce could be coated in human harming poison. This is a rather annoying discovery if you ask me.
Glyphosate: what is it & why it matters
Monsanto, the multi-billion dollar agricultural supergiant, is accountable for one fourth of the world's seed property. In other words, this single Fortune 500 company indirectly feeds 1.75 billion people!
That said, their practices both before, during, and after food is grown is a huge responsibility, one in which recent allegations have indicated they may have taken advantage of.⁷
Currently, they are undergoing a lawsuit with a California groundskeeper for hiding the cancer risk of it's weedkiller, Roundup.
The bullet in the gun is a chemical called glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup.
Naturally, this cause is bringing attention to an important topic for our time, as it affects the long term health of people who are frequently exposed to or consume pesticides.
Some 4,000 plaintiffs have sued Monsanto alleging exposure to Roundup caused them, or their loved ones, to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Another case is scheduled for trial in October, in Monsanto’s home town of St Louis, Missouri.⁹
Solutions: Smart Shopping
Thanks to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), our police for identifying pesticides on foods, we can at the very least make informed choices at the grocery store by knowing what is best to buy in it's organic form.
The EWG has identified the Dirty Dozen as produce that is high in pesticides and the Clean 15 as good to go in non-organically grown form.⁸
Farmers who grow organic produce use significantly less pesticides than non-organic farmers, thus we are better off buying the organic version of the foods that fall into the Dirty Dozen.
More than 98% of samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries, and apples, tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide, and a single sample of strawberries had been contaminated with over 20 different pesticides.¹⁰
Long story short, if you eat a non-organic apple is it going to kill you? No. But science is clearly proving that the steady consumption of pesticides over time will indeed increase your risk of cancer.
It's worth memorizing the Dirty Dozen list and eating the organic form of each.
1. The Dangers of Pesticides. (n.d.) Retrieved June 13, 2017, from https://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/green-science/the_dangers_of_pesticides
2. US Right to Know. "Man vs. Monsanto: First Trial Over Roundup Cancer Claims Set to Begin." EcoWatch. June 19, 2018. Accessed June 20, 2018. https://www.ecowatch.com/johnson-monsanto-trial-2579431928.html.
3, 6. Bassil, K.L., C. Vakil, M. Sanborn, D.C. Cole, J.S. Kaur, and K.J. Kerr. Advances in Pediatrics. October 2007. Accessed June 20, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2231435/.
4, 5. PAN. "Reproductive Health." Pesticide Action Network. Accessed June 20, 2018. http://www.panna.org/human-health-harms/reproductive-health.
7. GMO FAQ. (2016). "Do Monsanto and Big Ag Control Crop Research and World Food Supply?" Accessed June 20, 2018. https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/do-monsanto-and-big-ag-control-crop-research-and-world-food-supply/.
8, 10. Executive Summary. (n.d.). EWG's 2017 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Retrieved June 13, 2017, from https://www.ewg.org/foodnws/summary.php
9. Gillam, Carey. "Landmark Lawsuit Claims Monsanto Hid Cancer Danger of Weedkiller for Decades." The Guardian. May 22, 2018. Accessed June 20, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/may/22/monsanto-trial-cancer-weedkiller-roundup-dewayne-johnson.