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

 

 

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Fighting Rising Health Costs

Breaking_Bad_Habits I don’t usually go so long between writing these blog posts and I promise not to make it a habit, it’s just that enrolling in a full-time Master’s program while working full-time might have been a little more than I can neatly chew. Not that it hasn’t been amazing, interesting and full of fun, it really has, and so today I want to give you little taste of what’s been keeping me so busy.

The focus of my research this term is engagement, or better explained, the meaningful involvement of patients in health care. Still not sure what that means exactly? Well, it can mean a lot of things, starting with creating solutions and ways in which to encourage adults to actively take charge of their own diet, exercise, medication, treatment and overall health care while cutting overall health care costs. What is really exciting for me, is that it goes hand in hand with what I hope to achieve with my clients each and everyday. I want my clients to take charge of their own lives, learn new skills and take into account all the different factors and options that affect their health and health care costs, and have the confidence to seek the right care to live happy and healthy lives.

Since people who lack the skills or confidence to manage their own health care cost the system 21% more, it is in everyone’s best interest that we all fight to become better consumers of health care. How does one become a better, more engaged and more informed health consumer? Below are some tips to get you started:

How to be a more informed health care consumer, save money and experience better overall health:

Continue reading “Fighting Rising Health Costs”

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Just Because It Says Organic Doesn’t Mean It’s Good For You

organic-eating-and-headstandsI always choose organic produce over the conventionally grown variety. Fresh vegetables and fruits are better for you when they are not genetically modified or sprayed with pesticides. The fruit or veggie will have more nutrients and will have played its part in the eco-system, where bees and other insects have a chance to feed and pollinate the way they are supposed to do.

With that said, it has now become very popular for processed foods to carry an “organic” label, where sugar laden fruit bars, cereals and juices advertise that they were made with 100% organic ingredients.  Unfortunately this leads lots of people to think that Organic = Healthy and then they are surprised when they over-indulge in these organic products and see weight gain. These processed foods may be organic, but they still contain a crazy amount of sugar, sodium and other preservatives.

It’s great that people are thinking about where their food is coming from, but to take it a step further, we should all be thinking about taking the extra time to prepare our meals and eat whole foods as much as possible. Think about eating the way people did a hundred years ago… not an easy task I know.  A hundred years ago there was a designated person in the family (usually the mother) whose only role consisted of spending hours to prepare daily meals. That is definitely not the case now. Now women are busy juggling work, families, long commutes, training and fitness, traveling to exotic places, rent and mortgage payments, debt, taking care of aging parents, social lives and the list just goes on. There’s just no time to prepare meals from scratch and eat healthy 100% of the time.

Well, we cant’ aim for 100% all of the time. We have to take small steps and start off small. Just like when I started doing headstands, at first I couldn’t do them at all, but then little by little I started getting better at them. Now I can hold a headstand for upwards of 3 minutes and I am attempting to press into a handstand from the headstand position. Fitting in the time to cook is the same as attempting headstands for the first time, it has to happen slowly. Try scheduling the time to prepare one meal a week for a month and see how that goes. Then try for two meals a week. Slowly switch processed snacks (even those that say organic) to whole foods.

If you are confused about what I mean by “whole foods”, I’m talking about foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. A friend of mine said something super funny a while back and I think it fits really well here. He said, “If it comes from a Plant, eat it. If it’s made in a Plant, don’t”.  This couldn’t be more true and the next time you are out grocery shopping think about filling your cart with only whole foods and switching out some of your usual foods for these: Continue reading “Just Because It Says Organic Doesn’t Mean It’s Good For You”

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Candida Nightmares: Wait, What is Candida?

FruitsWe’re now a week into the New Year, how exciting! It’s been several weeks of craziness for me, as I just finished a hectic term of grad school with a flurry of lengthy papers, presentations and exhaustion right before the holidays began. I pulled my first all-nighter in seven years… a terrible decision on my part. Not sleeping will do a number on your body, especially if you are used to 7-8 hours of sleep a night like I am. Stress and not sleeping well lowered my usually strong immune system and I ended up getting sick for the first time in three years, talk about not being able to enjoy the fruits of my labor, instead of eating all of my favorite foods and fruits, I spent the whole holiday season trying to figure out what was going on with my body. The lowered immunity caused the candida population in my stomach to increase and I was hit with a bunch of food intolerances and allergies right in the middle of all the holiday dinners and festivities. Dairy, meat, nuts and even fruits and veggies were giving me severe stomach pain and even my skin broke out in acne and hives, all strong signals of inflammation in the body and a push for me to reduce stress and re-balance my life and diet.

The immune system is not just one organ like the liver or the heart, instead it is made up of a collection of different organs and systems that work together to kill pathogens and protect the body. Almost every part of the body contributes something to the immune system, so if one piece starts to function below par, your overall health can be at risk. For me it was clear, not sleeping for 24 hours straight, and getting only 4-5 hours of sleep in the week prior, had caused me adrenal fatigue. Continue reading “Candida Nightmares: Wait, What is Candida?”

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Maximizing Weight Loss Goals

Progress-weightlossMeet my client Ali. She has been following my online coaching plan for the last two and a half months, and I am so happy to be working with her. She follows my strength and conditioning program to a T, and also eats according to her Macros (I calculate her macro-nutrient intake based on her goals and provide her with a flexible monthly meal plan).  In the past couple of months we have been working on body re-composition and muscle gain. She has experienced some weight loss, even though our focus has been on eating more and putting on muscle. Losing inches and body fat have been nice byproducts of the muscles she has been adding to her frame.

She is looking great, and from her feedback, she is enjoying the process. She definitely eats way more than she used to, and is only doing one day of cardio (I have her doing just 25 minutes) and weight training 3 times a week (she was working out about 6 times a week before working with me).

The nice thing about working with Ali is that she really pays attention to good form and follows the meal plan properly. She has cut out processed sugar and also trusts me enough to not want drastic dieting measures to just lose pounds. I could have had her drop pounds very quickly, but I didn’t want her to be miserable and skinny fat. Muscle definition helps build curves in the right places, and I wanted to give Ali the tools to live a healthier lifestyle in the long run. I wanted her to gain muscle so that she could burn fat even at rest, and I wanted her to be able to eat real food, full of nutrients and vitamins.

I find that a person has to be mentally ready to follow a healthier lifestyle plan. Most often people want to lose weight fast, and don’t actually want to put in the time for preparing healthy meals or don’t want to cut out some of the excess in their lives. They want the process to be easy, and unless they truly come to terms with some of the work that a healthy lifestyle entails, it is hard to see the kind of success that Ali is getting after 2 months. Losing weight and gaining muscle is not complicated, it just depends on how much you are willing to put into it. I can promise you, I give my one hundred percent to make the plan customized to your needs and easy to follow, but you have to be the one who wants it bad enough to put in the work.

Once you decide you want it, the sky is the limit!

If you need some time to get used to the idea of working for a stronger, healthier body, take a little bit of time to digest the following “Ways to maximize health and fitness goals” that I ask from all of my clients:

Continue reading “Maximizing Weight Loss Goals”

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Life is a Beach: Balancing Stress

Life-is-a-beachMy life has been pretty hectic lately. It would be so easy to just give up on cooking healthy meals at home, or to push my workouts to the bottom of my list or skip them altogether. But the truth is, eating out every night just to save myself an hour or two of prep does a big disservice to both my body and mind. Skipping that workout might save me another hour, but I will spend triple that amount of time feeling guilty, or lose even more time in the future with pain or injury from lack of strength training. I have a lot of work and studying to do and not being at my optimal best is really not an option for me.

Eating well should not be an afterthought. Making it to the gym for a quick 45 minute workout shouldn’t be a crazy concept and going to bed earlier to ensure you are getting enough sleep is crucial to your daily success. Taking care of your self is not selfish, it is only logical.

Don’t daily work tasks seem like mountains when you are tired? And don’t meetings with colleagues seem so much more stressful when you are hungry? Why set yourself up for failure by not taking the steps do a little prep work? Just remember, don’t create more work for yourself, instead think about working smarter.

5 Easy Ways to “Self-Care” and Prepare for a Stressful Day Ahead

Continue reading “Life is a Beach: Balancing Stress”

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5 Steps to Kicking The Sugar Habit – Part 1

Kicking-Sugar-HabitSugar addiction. It’s real and it is scary.

Have you ever tried taking a break from sugar and found that all of a sudden it felt like you were upset or angry all of the time? That waves of headaches or nausea would wash over you and life had become generally unbearable? Well it wasn’t all in your head, what you were experiencing was actual withdrawal symptoms, just like a drug addict would experience were they to be cut off from the substance they abuse.

If you attempt to quit eating sugar all in one go, you’ll probably experience withdrawal symptoms that might show as severe and intense cravings for sugary foods, or more serious conditions such as mood swings, headaches or nausea. Those symptoms probably led you to binge on whatever simple carbs you could get your hands on, and that my dear, is akin to a drug addiction. The criteria for substance dependance or “addiction” is the cycle of binging then withdrawal then cravings and sensitization. In one study, results actually showed that intense sweetness provided greater neurological reward than even cocaine! A different study found that withdrawal from sugar had similar findings indicating that getting off sugar may cause the same neurological symptoms as withdrawing from nicotine, morphine and alcohol.

Can you say “Whoa Nelly?” Though many people know that diets high in sugar are linked to an increased risk for big illnesses like type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, many people don’t know that sugar intake has also been linked to depression, migraines, poor eyesight, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, gout and even osteoporosis. While the occasional sweet treat won’t make or break your weight loss or your health goals, many people have trouble stopping after a sensible portion or saying no to sugar when it’s around them. Think about a time a co-worker brought cupcakes or donuts to the office, it was probably a struggle for many people at the office to not get up and take a treat, even though they were probably full.

Why do you get a rush when you eat candy midday? The sugar in it, called a simple carbohydrate, is quickly turned into glucose in your bloodstream and your blood sugar levels spike. Simple carbs are also found in fruits, veggies, and dairy products, but those foods have fiber and protein that help slow down the process. Juice, soda, candy, chocolate bars and table sugars don’t have any of those fibers, and so when you eat them, your pancreas rapidly makes the hormone insulin, which moves glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells for energy. You may have a short sugar rush, but then your bloodstream is quickly left depleted and you experience a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, otherwise known as a mid day crash. You may feel shaky and probably wiped out so you start searching for even more sweets to regain that sugar “high.”

Now you may think you don’t have a sweet tooth, but do you have cravings for chips, bread or french fries? These starchy foods are complex carbs that the body breaks down into simple sugars as well, and when eaten without protein and fiber rich foods, these starches can make blood sugar react the same way as regular white sugar. White flour, and potatoes do this too, as do other highly refined starches like white bread, cookies, pretzels and crackers.

Quitting Cold Turkey is Not the Answer

Is all of this information making you want to distance yourself from sugars? Well I hope you start nice and slow, because some sugar detox plans urge you to cut all sweets, which means all fruit, dairy, and refined grains are out too. Unfortunately changes like that are too drastic to keep up in the long run, and you’ll find yourself binging and falling back into the cycle of addiction all over again.

You don’t need sugar as much as you think you do and in fact you can train your taste-buds to dislike sweetness. For example, start putting less sugar in your coffee or cereal. Over time, you will notice that you will lose your need for that sugary taste. Also, you don’t have to give up sweetness, but instead get it from other sources. Instead of sugar, try fresh or dried fruit on your oatmeal or in your yogurt. If you make small, simple changes to your diet, it’s easy to keep them up in the long run. Cut out a little bit of sugar each week and after a few weeks, you’ll be surprised at how little you actually miss it.

How to Kick Sugar to the Curb… In 5 Simple Steps

Continue reading “5 Steps to Kicking The Sugar Habit – Part 1”

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The Answer to Losing Weight

Losing_WeightOne of the most common phrases I hear is “I want to lose weight”. The answer I want to give back is usually quite long and drawn out, so I thought I would write a short response here and let everyone know that the phrase I’d really like to hear instead is “I want to lose Body Fat”. People new to fitness would presume that those two phrases are one and the same, but today I would like to make a big stink about how losing weight is nothing the same as losing body fat! I’d shout it from rooftops if I could (or in the case of today’s photo, from the high steps of Spain’s ancient forts) but alas shouting it into the blog world will have to suffice.

When someone says that they want to lose weight, it is in actuality a very vague goal. They get so focused on seeing that number on the scale drop that they start cutting calories and loading up on the cardio. They don’t think about the fact that they are probably losing muscle mass, water or stored glycogen and even metabolic waste first before they actually start losing a substantial amount of body fat.

Don’t focus on that Scale

Everyone says it, “Muscle weighs more than fat” but that’s actually not true.

5 lbs of muscle and 5 lbs of fat are both equal in weight, it’s just that fat takes up more room in your body. Fat is all fluffy and gooey and free form, while each muscle comes in a set shape that takes up less space and feels hard to the touch. That is why you can see dimpling below the surface of the skin when there is more fatty tissue present than muscle.

In reality, a 135lb person who has more muscle and a lower body fat percentage can look leaner and thinner than a 135lb person with a higher body fat percentage.

muscle_vs_fat

The Real Answer to Losing Weight Continue reading “The Answer to Losing Weight”

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Breaking The Mold: Your Image Does Not Define You

working_out_body_imageHey you.

Do whatever you want. Really. Be anything you want to be… Anything. You. Want.

Don’t conform to the image that others perceive you as having, unless you have worked hard to project that certain image, but even then the chances are high that what they perceive and what you perceive are two completely different things. That’s just how it is, no two people can truly think alike, it’s not human nature, so again, just do whatever you want.

For instance, doesn’t it seem so silly that people assume if you have blonde hair, that you must somehow not value knowledge and learning? Or if you grew up overweight, and had bad grades in gym class, that you are destined to forever hate all types of physical activity. Maybe you had a bad gym teacher, maybe you were being bullied at that time in that class, or that your life experiences hadn’t shown you the importance of being healthy yet. Whatever the reason, now you can be whomever you choose to be.

Often others can’t handle this and they don’t know what to do with themselves when they realize you have broken out of the mold they had you in. That is not your problem. Your only task is to be happy, to pursue happiness and be happy with yourself. Simple right?

Lesson’s from my Hair Dresser

A few months ago, I was sitting in my hair dresser’s chair and he told me that he had been doing some construction on his home. My hair dresser is a very sweet man that works magic on thick, coarse hair like mine. He spends all day long talking cut and color, perms and highlights, while going home to his wife and raising his two sons, tending to his vegetable garden, using power tools to build a new addition to his home and watching soccer with a cold beer in hand. Continue reading “Breaking The Mold: Your Image Does Not Define You”

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The Secret To Looking Good

FeelingGoodSometimes it’s easy to let other people’s insecurities get to you. They start making comments like “I hate my thighs”, or “I can’t eat that, I need to lose like 5 pounds!” or even worse, “don’t you just hate how we can’t be as skinny as her?” and you start thinking that there must be something wrong with you and that maybe you too should be thinking twice about eating that last morsel.

I know that I don’t have the thin body you see in the media, but there is no reason for anyone to body shame me for not wanting to aspire to someone else’s ideals. I could turn the tables and start talking about how sick and skinny those models look (and probably feel), but what would that achieve? That is negativity that starts weighing down on your soul and I just want to fill my life with light and positivity, besides, ain’t nobody got time for that!

I am constantly reminding myself that my legs helped me squat 200lbs, or that my shoulders helped me hold my handstand in a strong, stable position. My body is strong, I love nourishing it with nutritious foods, and I love feeling happy and healthy from all the vitamins in what I eat and the endorphins that exercise gives me. Other people will always have their opinions, but how they feel about your body has nothing to do with how you actually feel.

So pssst…the secret to looking good is to feel good. If you feel good about the decisions you are making (like making an effort to cook at home and making time for exercise), if you fill your belly with healthy nutritious foods that gives you the proper vitamins and nutrients to fuel your body, and if you surround yourself with positive people, you are bound to feel and look good.

I guess that’s not really a big secret is it? It just gets easier to do with practice, so let’s start with small steps and get to a point where other people’s opinions are just that… their opinions and not ours.

To Being Positively Strong,

 

Sunny