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Health, Informational, Uncategorized

Practice Gratitude to Help You Lose Weight

Were your lungs helping you breath today? Were you able to walk yourself to the bathroom and brush your teeth? Did your fingers help you deftly button up those favorite jeans of yours?

If the answer to all three questions is yes, then you are one lucky duck. I hope you realize how truly blessed you are to have working organs, limbs, and fingers.

Now close your eyes, take (and release) three big breaths, thank the universe for such good luck, smile big, and give your body a big, virtual hug for always having your back, and then go about your day as usual.

Why do this? Well science tells us that the effects of gratitude on the brain are long lasting. Practicing gratitude everyday—or even just once a week—can help:

  1. increase energy levels
  2. improve exercise patterns
  3. get better sleep
  4. decrease anxiety and depression
  5. lower stress levels
  6. increase self-love and empathy
  7. show reductions in physical ailments and pain
  8. improve optimism

A 2004 study by Emmons and McCullough even showed that keeping a gratitude journal increased determination, enthusiasm, alertness, and energy.

In effect, by practicing gratitude you could have more energy in your day to exercise. You can reduce the stress in your life to curb stress eating and emotional attachments to food. Better sleep as a result of gratitude journaling can also help you with muscle synthesis and increase energy levels to get you the best results from your workouts. All of these would work together to help you move more and eat less—the two proven ways you can shed those unwanted pounds without constant dieting.

How to Practice Gratitude

It only takes a few minutes a day to recognize, acknowledge, and practice gratitude everyday. Start with taking just a moment to jot down some notes on a notepad or on your phone. Try doing this once a week at the minimum. Keep it up for at least three months to see best results.

If you need some prompts on how to keep a gratitude journal, try choosing one topic a day from these journal prompts listed below:

Just remember, acknowledging gratitude is not about comparing yourself to how other people may be worse off than you are. Take time to really appreciate the smallest aspects of your current situation. This is where a gratitude journal can come in handy as it is something tangible that you can go back to and reflect on.

I always tell my clients that losing weight is not complex, but it is definitely complicated. Losing weight is about getting adequate exercise while eating just the right amount of calories from nutrient dense foods. The complicated part comes from daily stress, lack of sleep, lack of self-love and motivation, and physical, economical and psychological barriers. Gratitude journaling is a great tool to help you make sense of some of the complicated stuff that makes weight loss so difficult for many.

Event, Exercises, Health, Informational

Intermittent Fasting, Client Spotlight, and the Must-Try Shoulder Workouts of the Month

Intermittent Fasting: Fad Diet or Effective Weight Loss Method?

Every few months a new fad diet pops up that promises an incredibly easy and effective way to shed those unwanted extra pounds, fast. While most of these types of diets shock your body into losing weight quickly (usually due to the high caloric deficit caused by eliminating whole food groups) they often deprive you of much-needed nutrients and of your sanity as well. The end result is that most people will yo-yo back to their previous weight once the restricted food groups are reintroduced back into the diet.

Sunny’s Take on the Situation: What’s the Deal?

At PostivelySTRONG Health Solutions, we don’t believe in fad diets. Eliminating whole food groups is frowned upon unless you have a food intolerance or history of food allergies. It should also be noted that calorie restriction is not seen as the only way to lose weight. In fact, most clients are quite surprised to see that eating a varied and colorful diet without eliminating whole food groups is the norm. This includes dairy, bread, and even (gasp!) sugar. 

However, there are certain methods to nutrient timing that have scientific backing, and some forms of calorie restriction are necessary for weight loss. One such method is Intermittent Fasting (IF), which is a diet that I sometimes recommend to my clients.

IF is an eating pattern where you either: 

  • A) eat how you would normally eat for 5-days out of the week while vastly restricting calories for two nonconsecutive days out of the week.

OR 

  • B) you only eat all of your daily required calories in two to three meals in an 8 to 10-hour window and fast the rest of the time (usually fasting while sleeping and in the morning).

Here’s why IF is a trend I can get behind:

IF can help you lose weight while encouraging your body to burn stored fat as energy to fuel your body. Benefits include cranking up your metabolism and balancing of hormones. This is accomplished through a reduction in your caloric intake and nutrient timing to get your hormones to fire correctly (i.e. decreased insulin resistance + increase in growth hormones = an increase in the fat-burning hormone Leptin). IF has also been credited with improving heart health.

Here’s how IF can turn on you:

IF can’t fight the good fight against junk food. So don’t expect to lose weight if you are eating everything in sight in those eating windows. Also, it’s definitely not a diet for everyone. There are reports of women experiencing changes in their menstrual cycle after starting IF.  Also, individuals with chronic illnesses, advanced diabetes, or prone to eating disorders, I encourage you to explore other lifestyle and nutrition changes that may better suit your individual needs.

Client Spotlight: Kendra J

Sunny’s Client Kendra is a travel expert who has been working with PositivelySTRONG health solutions for the past 4 years. Her contagious smile and warm personality make her a delight to work with. Her strong self-drive and consistent work ethic make her the dream client. We recently caught up with Kendra and asked her a series of questions to better understand how she enjoys working with Sunny at PositivelySTRONG Health.

Hi Kendra, can you describe your health and fitness regimen before you started with PositivelySTRONG Health?

Before I started working out with Sunny, I was a person that focused a lot on cardio and how much I weighed. I would go through spurts where I was doing kickboxing, running on a treadmill, anything cardio-focused. Which is funny because I really hate cardio—and probably why after a few months I would be over it. 

I would also lift light weights with the fear of gaining too much muscle and didn’t go into the gym with a set workout so I would often wander around with no direction or what body part I should be focusing on. Eating-wise, I would go through periods where I would eat low-carb salads with protein to quickly lose weight, and then politely gain it back once I hit my target size.

What problem(s) were you trying to solve by signing up with PositivelySTRONG Health? 

I wanted to figure out a long-term solution to what I should be feeding my body and how I could incorporate working out consistently and with purpose.

What made you happiest about working with PositivelySTRONG?

Uh. Everything? I love that you challenge me with each new workout (or try to kill me. However you want to see it). Most trainers get weird and don’t acknowledge any disability and your workouts are mindful of my limits but also incorporate moves that will strengthen my arm. Also love that you know life happens and you don’t expect me to eat celery on my birthday, your 80/20 rule is the bee’s knees, and I love how your page gives me more ideas on how to switch up meal prep.

What have you been able to achieve since using our services?

Definitely a lot stronger and I love lifting now! I’m also mindful of what I’m putting in my body and I feel that I figured out what foods make my body happy. You made me rethink my relationship with food.

What has exceeded your expectations since working with Sunny?

Everything! You have been such a joy to work with. You don’t judge my heart if I disappear, but you also call me on my sh*t in a loving encouraging manner (don’t know how else to describe that lol).

What’s the main reason you recommend PositivelySTRONG Health?

Sunny is a thoughtful trainer that encourages her clients to push their bodies, don’t judge their own progress, and make taking care of yourself a priority and a mandatory thing.

What would you tell someone who’s considering working with PositivelySTRONG and/or Sunny?

To be prepared to be changed. You are going to be pushed/warmly shoved out of your comfort zone but it’s definitely worth it!

Thank you Kendra, we definitely appreciate your feedback and enjoy guiding you on your health and fitness journey!

Two Best Shoulder Boulder Workouts To Try Today

For maximum strength, body symmetry, and proper posture, look no further than these two shoulder workouts demonstrated in this video:

Continue reading “Intermittent Fasting, Client Spotlight, and the Must-Try Shoulder Workouts of the Month”
Food, Health, Informational

Ancient Superfood: 7 Health Benefits of Barberry

If you’ve never heard of the barberry, it’s probably because you haven’t had the chance to try the popular zereshk polo or tahchin of Persian cuisine.

In zereshk polo, tiny red berries (the barberry) dance on a bed of aromatic basmati rice and turmeric saffron chicken. Tahchin on the other hand is a savory rice cake where plain yogurt and chunks of succulent meat have been folded into saffron basmati rice, then baked to golden perfection.

But I digress. The purpose of this particular article isn’t to share a recipe or to make your mouth water, it is more to tell you about the health benefits of the Berbers vulgaris — or the Barberry.

The Barberry

Barberry shrubs grow in abundance in the mountainous north-east region of Iran. The small ruby-like berries contain the alkaloids berberine and oxycontin (alkaloids are nitrogenous organic compounds with pronounced physiological effects on the human body, i.e. many drugs contain alkaloids such as morphine and quinine.)

The Health Benefits of Eating Barberry

In recent history, the medicinal properties of Berberine has been studied at length. However, the use of barberries in Eastern and Western medical traditions goes back to at least 3000 years.

Recent research has found that berberine can:

  1. Increase immunity and fight infection
  2. Ease inflammation
  3. Improve digestion, reduce gastrointestinal pain and treat diarrhea
  4. Control blood sugar to aid in preventing and treating diabetes
  5. Improve hypertension and heart health
  6. Reduce oxidative stress
  7. Effectively cleanse the liver and act as a gallbladder flush agent

In traditional Eastern medicine, the barberry has a cold and dry nature. Historically, barberries in large quantities were used as a sedative by Iranian physicians, while in India they were used to treat diarrhea. Ancient Egyptians used barberry and fennel seed to cure fever and in northern Europe, the barberry is still used to treat disorders of the bladder, liver, and gallbladder.

How it’s Done

There are a few different ways you can incorporate the barberry into your diet.

A consistently balanced and healthy diet of varied fruits and vegetables, including the fruit of the barberry shrub is always going to be your best bet. My number one recommended method is to use it in real foods, like in the dishes I mentioned in the beginning of this article. As I’m not a seasoned recipe creator and do not want to copy and paste someone else’s hard work, I will refer you to someone who really knows their stuff… Try this delicious chicken, barberry and saffron frittata as shown by lovely chef/blogger Maryam Sinaiee, on her website The Persian Fusion. She has many other recipes for using barberries, some are very traditional, some are more fusion types. All seem delicious!

I am also partial to soaking dried barberries in boiling water, adding honey, then drinking as a kind of hot tea.

Where to Find Barberries

You can find Barberries at most Persian grocers, or you can also order online. Click the affiliate image below for my fave brand of barberries. Be warned that once in a while, small stones and stems are normal, and they should be thoroughly picked through and rinsed before use.

Dried-Barberries

Of course, it can be easier for some to take a high dose of barberry compounds in capsule form. So another way is to take berberine supplements. If I’m at the point where I HAVE to use supplementation, Thorne Research products are in my top 5. I’ve also included a link to the Thorne Research capsules in the affiliate image below.

Berberine

Let me know if you decide to make any Barberry recipes you find that I should know about. I make zereshk polo at least once a month, if not more, so I’m always looking for new ways of using Barberries as a part of my healthy diet.

To a berry positively strong week,

 

Sunny

Food, Health

How Garlic Can Help With Weight Loss

Too much garlic may give you bad breath, but its myriad of health benefits far outweigh those smelly side effects — not to mention the possible vampire protection you’ll have. But vampire jokes aside, research has found garlic to be effective in preventing and treating high blood pressure, reducing risks of dementia and heart attack, and successfully killing tumors and cancer cells. But another positive health benefit to garlic is that it may help you reach your weight loss goals too.

Can Garlic Help You Lose Weight?

Grown in abundance, inexpensive to buy, and easy to find in grocery stores (usually in the same aisle as potatoes and onions) it’s not difficult to add more of the bulb to your healthy diet. My mother-in-law talks about a time in England when garlic was seen as an exotic food from the east, and thus difficult to find everywhere. But lucky for you and me, garlic is now readily available via Amazon too.

I’m sure by this point you are asking, “That’s great that it’s so easy to find and fit into my diet, but get to the point Sunny… How does garlic ACTUALLY help you lose weight?”

Well, Garlic won’t help you drop 10 lbs overnight, but it does provide you with health benefits that aid with the steps you are already taking to lose weight (hello healthy diet and exercise!)

In fact, here are 5 different ways in which garlic can aid in losing those extra pounds and even help you maintain a healthy body weight. Continue reading “How Garlic Can Help With Weight Loss”

Informational

Healthy Lifestyle Resolutions: It’s Not Too Late to Start Over

weight-loss-transformation

Did the clock strike twelve, fireworks go off and you resolved that it was going to be a “New Year, New You” kind of year? Well, now that we’re midway into February, this is the perfect time to reflect on your progress to see how those resolutions you made are coming along .

Sticking With New Year’s Weight Loss Goals

Sadly, this time of year is about the same time that gyms and fitness clubs start to empty out — as half of all New Year’s resolutioners start to lose sight of their goals and give up.

The Stats

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute‘s 2017 survey of 1,273 online, 216 phone, and 73 in-person respondents, 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions.

Of those resolutioners, 32% of the resolutions were weight related.

When asked about how many actually kept with their resolutions after a month into the new year, only 58.4% of respondents felt that they kept up with their resolutions after January.

What’s more, only 9% of respondents felt that they were successful in achieving their resolutions at the end of last year. This means that 91% of the people that made New Year’s resolutions felt that they were not successful in achieving their goals — holy moly, that is a huge percentage of people that probably feel ashamed and guilty for not following through with their goals, me thinks.

The How To

So what does it take to achieve those weight loss goals? A quick google search defines New Year’s resolutions as a tradition in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior. But what I’ve learned over the years and after taking on countless new clients around this time of year, is that you need more than just resolve to change an undesired trait or behavior.

Setting Healthy Lifestyle Goals: Where to Start

  1. What is your overall objective?
  2. How much time can you invest in achieving your particular goal? (Think hours per day, per week and number of months.)
  3. How much money or resources do you want to put towards your goal?
  4. How much effort are you willing to put in to reach your goal? (Use a 1-10 scale, anything less than a 7 rating usually means your goal is not as important to you as you think.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I too have failed in keeping many a resolutions in the past — But after many years of learning about human behavior, and of course through trial and error,  I know one thing for sure, it takes a few strategic tactics for health and weight loss goals to stick.

Take for example, my client Nadia (pictured above). She was able to achieve her new year’s resolutions of meeting her weight loss goals. But what did it really take? How was she able to find herself in the coveted 9% of resolutioners that met their goals? After all, she was working full time while starting her own business on the side, as she completed her masters degree and embarked on new life experiences. As tall a feat as it may seem, I promise you, you can also meet your weight loss goals the way she did. Read more to learn how to take the 4 questions above and put them into action.

The Healthy Resolution Plan: The Follow Through

First, you really have to want it. Don’t overbook yourself. You can’t want to lose weight, but also want to work more, read more, give more work presentations and spend more time with friends. In theory all of those things sounds great and doable at the same time, but when it comes to your resolutions, you have to make your goals a top priority.

Continue reading “Healthy Lifestyle Resolutions: It’s Not Too Late to Start Over”

Informational

Weight Loss: Exercise vs. A Healthy Diet

Are you trying to lose weight with just exercise alone? Do you have a soda addiction but figure it’s not as bad as smoking or other vices since you can just exercise the ‘bad’ calories away? Unfortunately new research looking at the weight management approach of calories in versus calories out tells us that this is really not the case — you really can’t outrun a bad diet.

Diet Trumps Exercise for Weight Loss

The 2015 study published in the journal Current Biology suggests that too little physical activity can make you unhealthy but too much of it drives your body to make big adjustments to adapt, leading to weight loss plateaus. The authors  of the study point to the need to focus on diet, especially when it comes to weight loss and weight management.

Below is a great video that pretty much sums up exactly what the research says:

How to Make a Healthy Diet Fit Your Life

I’m all about eating yummy desserts and not restraining myself when it comes to birthday parties or get togethers — so what do I do when I want to indulge and still maintain my healthy weight? That’s easy, I create myself a meal plan that includes all the food groups, I stick to whole, plant based nutrition as the base, and allot 20% of what I eat to other foods (mostly homemade) that curb my cravings.

In fact I do this for my clients as well. I create meal plans that fit with clients’ tastes, allergies or intolerances and daily life. I just ask that clients exercise 2-3 days a week as a bare minimum, and that they take the time to prepare the majority of their meals at home (I’m not a fan of processed, pre-packaged foods.)

Nutrition Matters: Macros

I also work with my clients to start understanding their macronutrient intake. By macronutrient I mean the fats, carbs and proteins they eat on a day to day basis. Counting calories doesn’t tell you much, as this March 2015 study published in the journal of Public Health Nutrition tells us, instead, knowing exactly how each food helps to fuel your metabolism and your day is what you need to know.

Continue reading “Weight Loss: Exercise vs. A Healthy Diet”

Informational

Freedom From The Norm: How An Online Trainer And Coach Works

Online-Fitness-TrainerSome people just don’t like working with a personal trainer. They may like the idea of having someone to consult with, or the added motivation a trainer provides, but they’re just not into making or keeping tight one hour appointments at the gym or having someone yell— “gimme just 1 more rep!” —into their ear.

I don’t blame them. I’m a certified personal trainer, and even I don’t like forcing my clients into a rigid schedule, where they dread coming to see me.

Like my clients, I much prefer a flexible schedule. This is why all of my packages are offered online. Many of my clients are busy professionals, some with kids, some without. Time is precious to them and they don’t always have the luxury of dropping into workout classes at a set time.

How Online Strength & Nutrition Guideance Works

  • I provide you with a series of online questionnaires
  • You fill out the online forms and send back to me
  • I obtain all the necessary information I need (such as your goals, weight, height, fitness level, stress levels, fitness and nutritional likes, dislikes, allergies, injuries, concerns, etc.)
  • I create a customized personal training program and macronutrient focused meal plan for you

Strength and Conditioning

What most people need is a customized plan that gives detailed information on what exercises to do, on what days. Sometimes exercises will include machines or weight resistance, other times it may be body weight exercises or plyometrics. Everything fits together to target your specific goals and keep your body on your toes.

Don’t know how to use the equipment at your gym properly? No problem, I send you videos, photos and descriptions if that’s an issue. All workout plans keep in mind your fitness level, load, intensity, frequency and the various equipment you may or may not have available to you. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to these plans. Everything is tailored to your needs.

Nutritional Counseling

My clients aren’t into fad diets, instead they want to eat real food, with the correct portion sizes for their activity needs and fitness levels, while losing body fat and gaining muscle in all the right places. I calculate your macros, and give you a workable schedule of suggested meals and recipes that fit those macros (that’s the hardest part for most people) and fit your daily life. Continue reading “Freedom From The Norm: How An Online Trainer And Coach Works”

Health, Uncategorized

Positively Happy Holiday Greetings!

Positively_strong_health_solutions_coupon_offer_for_diet_weightloss_nutrition_fitness_plan

My heart is happy,

My belly is full,

I thank God that my clients

Are so jolly and cool!

Basically, since I like to take the Christmas holidays to reflect on all of the blessings in my life, this past year has been an amazing one.

I’m really thankful for a year of learning, expansion and being able to work with awesome clients and people who are so into fitness and nutrition.

Thanks for making my job so enjoyable. I love being a champion for healthy living and a coach where I get to see others work hard, succeed and fulfill their own dreams, wishes and resolutions.

To Positively Strong Holidays,

Sunny

 

 

Health

The Joy of Better Health: Preventing Heartburn With 5 Simple Solutions

JumpForJoyAcidRefluxIf you have ever experienced heartburn, you’ll know that it is no joke. It’s not just annoying, but it’s actually quite a dangerous signal of your overall health.

Many years ago, I had heartburn that persisted over a few weeks and when I told my doctor about it she just waved it off and said that it was probably too much acidic foods and that she would prescribe me some medication for Acid Reflux. The medication worked, but as soon as I came off of it, the heart burn came right back. That was quite some time ago, nowadays I know a lot more about Acid Reflux and indigestion, and the types of foods and diets that bring about heartburn.

Most often, it’s not just one meal or food that does it, instead it is a series of meals and bad habits that create an acidic environment in the body by dropping the body’s natural pH balance to below 7.35. Acid forming foods are definitely a culprit, but most people don’t realize that it is not acidic fruits and foods like lemons, tomatoes and sauerkraut that disturb the alkaline balance of the body, but instead it is “acid-forming foods” such as processed foods and packaged goods that cause acidosis in the body and subsequent harm.

A low pH and acidic environment within the body is the perfect growing conditions for a bacteria called the Helico Pylori Bacteria (a.k.a H. Pylori) which inhabits the stomach and the esophagus. H.Pylori stimulates cells in the stomach to produce excessive amounts of gastric or hydrochloric acid which can make their way back and up into the esophogus causing “Heartburn” or Gastro-Esophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD). Doctors usually prescribe a heavy dose of antibiotics for H.Pylori, but since the antibiotics themselves can often do a lot of harm, eating the right foods can re-balance the gut to create an alkaline environment (not allowing the H.Pylori to thrive). I can honestly say that just by switching to whole foods and cooking at home, I have been able to experience better overall health, prevent heartburn and not take any medications whatsoever, which literally has me jumping for joy!

As for Acid Reflux medication, those just mask symptoms and can often have many side effects as well. My doctor should not have waved off my heartburn as if it were no big deal. It’s great that she recognized food could be a source of the problem, but she should have elaborated on what foods were actually “acid-forming” to the body and also advised me to see a nutritionist.

Preventing heartburn can be a way of preventing bigger problems down the road and since there are already lots of lists out there to help alleviate heartburn once you have it, I have instead created a list that will help balance your gut flora and keep you from experiencing heartburn in the first place.

5 ways to clean up your diet and keep heartburn at bay:

Continue reading “The Joy of Better Health: Preventing Heartburn With 5 Simple Solutions”

Food

Reputation Re-haul: 5 Fattening Foods That Are Actually Good For You

Good-For-You-Foods-With-A-Bad-RepEveryday, there is someone out there that is unnecessarily avoiding certain foods. They don’t have an allergy and they don’t dislike the food, but in the name of weight loss or health, they are choosing to discriminate against them.

Blogs, news outlets and media figures like Dr. Oz are busy using scare tactics about perfectly-good-for-you foods, and with far fetched promises of shedding 20 pounds in a week. Some processed foods are marketed as “healthy” but they are far from it (see one of my previous posts) while other foods are given a bad reputation, sometimes based on studies that are simply taken out of context. Well I’m here to tell you that unless you have a real food allergy or intolerance, you shouldn’t be avoiding these whole foods based on what the uninformed word is on the street.

Below is a list of 5 foods that you may be avoiding unnecessarily, when in fact they are super good for you!

Continue reading “Reputation Re-haul: 5 Fattening Foods That Are Actually Good For You”