Exercise and Weight Loss

Losing weight is a common health and fitness goal for many people for a variety of reasons. There are many ways to go about achieving this fitness goal, but there is also a lot of misleading information that can actually sabotage weight loss efforts!

If you are trying to lose weight then it is likely that you have adjusted your diet and that you are also regularly engaging in some kind of exercise. The following points are things that you should bear in mind when you are exercising and try to incorporate into your existing efforts!

Cardio

Cardio is known to be a great way to lose weight, but it has to be approached in a sensible way. If you overdo it with your cardio workouts then you are going to be causing harm to your body, and this can have an impact on your weight loss. This is because excessive amounts of cardio can cause inflammation.

Overdoing it when it comes to cardio can also mean that you end up eating more as you have used up a great deal of your energy stores! When you do too much cardio you will also be allowing your body to release excess levels of stress hormones into your body. These hormones can not only disrupt your sleep pattern, but can also cause your body to store more fat.

Mixing up the types of cardio that you engage in, and the amount that you do, is key to success here. Team sports and dancing are exciting alternatives to a 5km on the treadmill!

Ab Exercises

Exercising your abs is a great way to tone these muscles for definition. Also, the strength of your core is an important component of your overall optimum health. However, when you over-do it with the ab exercises when you are trying to lose weight, you could hinder your efforts. This is because exercises that develop the abs will help to build a layer of muscle in this area, and this can go against the slimming down of your waistline!

During the first few months of your weight loss attempt, I would advise that you mostly utilise short periods of cardio – around 20 minutes max – and then engage in weight training exercises that work the larger muscle groups. As you move towards your desired weight, you can then begin to include exercises that target the smaller muscles in order to improve overall muscle tone.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

How to Handle Your Hormones

Mood swings can strike at any time and although there are certain common likely causes, it is something that can’t always be managed in the same way.

What Are Mood Swings

Your mood swings may be characterised by a variety of things, such as unexplained crying or unjustified irritability. It is important to remember that although your emotions may seem out of proportion, your feelings in each moment are still valid and true, and there is no need to beat yourself up about this!

Diet & Gut Health

A hormonal imbalance is a likely cause when it comes to mood swings, and this can be handled by addressing your lifestyle and making positive changes where necessary. This will largely be in relation to your diet. Your diet can impact your emotions in several ways, and it will also have an impact on the health of your gut. Your gut health is linked to your mood, and it is important to play close attention to this aspect of your overall health. The bacteria in your intestines will influence your hormones, and this of course will then impact your mood. So, a large presence of good bacteria will go a long way to helping!

Blood Sugar Levels

Keeping your blood sugar levels consistent is one of the best ways to keep your mood from fluctuating. You may think that skipping a meal will help you to lose weight, or save you time if you have a busy schedule. But doing so can actually wreak havoc with your hormones and leave you feeling annoyed, fatigued and generally unhappy. Fortunately, you can keep your blood sugar levels up by regularly eating nutritious foods, and avoiding processed foods and sugary snacks!

Sleep & Stress

In addition to your diet, certain lifestyle factors such as sleep will also influence your hormones and therefore your mood. When you do not get enough sleep your body will produce excess levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. This will put unnecessary stress on your adrenal glands, and can cause your serotonin levels to drop. Serotonin is super important for keeping your mood up, and you should always try to get between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have trouble getting to sleep, or find that you are often waking in the night, then you may find some relief by drinking soothing herbal teas before you go to bed.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

The Super Nutrient: Vitamin D

Finding ways to boost the presence of vitamin D in the body is a great idea for improving and maintaining your general health.

With our busy modern day lives it can be super easy to negate our own health, and to pay little attention to the nutrients that we are consuming. However, this can quickly lead to our health and happiness becoming compromised.

As discussed in a previous blog post, Vitamin D is an incredibly important vitamin. And, since there is not something that can be found in abundance in many foods, it is essential that you get an ample amount from sunshine!

Your body utilises stores of cholesterol to convert sunlight into usable vitamin D. Although it is a vitamin, it actually acts more like a hormone in the body and contributes to many essential regulatory functions. Every cell in your body relies on vitamin D and a deficiency can cause long-lasting health issues.

Mental Health

The incidence of depression can be seen to increase during the winter months, and this can be linked (in part) to less sunshine during the day. In order to combat this issue it is important to aim to get more vitamin D from dietary sources during the winter, and you can also opt for supplements.

Immune System Function

Your immune system relies on vitamin D to function effectively. Low levels of vitamin D can contribute to the onset of several health conditions and ensuring you get an adequate amount is a great way to help protect yourself.

Bone Strength

This super vitamin is incredibly beneficial when it comes to the health of your bones. It helps to prevent the breakdown of the bones, as well as increasing the overall strength of your entire skeletal system.

Brain Health

It may surprise you to learn that your memory can actually be affected by long-term vitamin D deficiency. Persistent low levels of this vitamin has also been linked to the development of certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

As you can clearly see, there is much to be gained from vitamin D and much to be lost by not making sure you have get an adequate amount!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Plant Based Foods to Beat Anxiety

Anxiety is a worldwide problem and manifests in many different shapes and forms. It can range in seriousness from slightly inconvenient to completely debilitating and relief is sought in many different places. Approximately 40 million adults in the United States currently suffer, have suffered or will suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. This equates to over 18% of the population! That huge number demonstrates just how many of us are afflicted with this condition.

Many people immediately turn to medication to manage their anxiety but in some cases it can be addressed through diet and exercise. Medication can cause some unfavourable side effects so if it is possible to avoid it then it is always worth exploring alternative options. Additionally, medication often only masks the root of the anxiety and as soon as treatment stops the problem can resurface. Finding ways to naturally treat imbalances in the body is the optimum way to move towards better long term mental health.

So let’s take a look at the things you can aim to include in your diet to combat the causes and symptoms of anxiety.

Green tea is cheap, simple and delicious. It is generally calming for the mind and when consumed regularly can work to decrease anxiety overall. Some variations of green tea are believed to have a positive effect on cortisol production in terms of balancing levels of this stress hormone in the body.

Turmeric is an amazing spice, both in terms of colour and taste and is known to enhance your mood. This spice contains antioxidants called curcuminoids which has neuroprotective qualities. Studies into the effectiveness of turmeric to combat depression have yielded encouraging results.

Avocados are an all round super food and can be useful for tackling anxiety. They contain high levels of potassium which works to control blood pressure, which in turn can help to keep your mood balanced. Avocados also contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help to keep your brain functioning as it should!

Finally, asparagus can also be consumed regularly in an effort to reduce feelings of anxiety. This is because it contains folic acid which is connected to the health of your neurological function. Impaired neurological function can be an underlying cause of anxiety and it is always worth making sure you get ample amounts of folic acid in your diet. As an added bonus, asparagus contains a small amount of potassium too, which as mentioned previously helps with that all important blood pressure!

Why is Vitamin D Essential for Optimal Health?

As many of my clients are already aware, vitamin D is one of the only vitamin supplements that I often recommend people include. Getting an adequate amount of this vitamin is incredibly important and unfortunately many of us fail to do so! Experts have predicted that at least one billion people around the globe are deficient in this vitamin. A quick blood test will determine your vitamin D levels and an optimum range is between 50-80 ng/ml. On the other hand, it is also important not to overdose on vitamin D as excess amounts will remain in your system, often leading to high blood calcium levels, nausea and sometimes even kidney stones.

The main roles that vitamin D has in the body are to maintain bone mass, help the body to properly absorb calcium and also to protect against injury whilst also alleviating any musculoskelatal pain.

Your immune system is one of several aspects of your body that will benefit from optimum vitamin D levels. This is especially true if you are an athlete or if you are someone who engages in regular exercise. Strenuous workouts can have quite an impact on the body and keeping healthy is key to efficient recovery. Vitamin D helps to defend the body in this way and combats viruses.

Your brain will also benefit from this vitamin, with studies showing that cognitive function is improved as the damage caused by free radicals is reduced. Not only does this mean that your general brain activity in the present is optimised, but also that your risk of degenerative diseases becomes less. Alzheimer’s is one disease that is thought to have strong links to decreased levels of vitamin D.

Testosterone levels, in men and women, are directly influenced by the amount of vitamin D present in the body. In fact, those who are taking testosterone for hormone replacement therapy are generally advised to take a weekly dose of vitamin D in order to keep their levels of testosterone up. Testosterone plays a huge role in building and maintaining muscles and making sure vitamin D levels are adequate will aid this process.

As we can see, this is an extremely useful and essential aspect of our basic nutrition. The best ways to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D are to enjoy sufficient time outdoors in the sunlight, consume foods that are high in this vitamin and then also of course you can take supplements if you find the first two option aren’t hitting the quota.

If you feel like you might be lacking in any areas of your nutrition, then click to get a nutrition consultation!

Weight Control and Your Body!

As January creeps by and 2014 truly sets in, many people will have already given up on that New Year’s Resolution diet! It is an unfortunate fact that dieting doesn’t work the same for everyone. If you’re struggling to reach your diet goals then it could be more than a seasonal lack of motivation holding you back. Unfortunately an incorrect thought process has been adopted by the masses that weight control is a simple matter of calories in versus calories used up. This is a dramatic over simplification of how our bodies work and you are unlikely to reach your desired weight if this is your primary approach.

If you’re doing all you can to keep your weight under control but are still not achieving results then consider the following six possibilities. If you feel like one of them applies to you then arrange a consultation with your doctor and you could soon be on your way to being in control of your health!

1)      The gut is a very complicated portion of the body and the smallest of problems in this area can upset the digestive balance entirely. This can lead to a whole range of further problems. The gut is home to literally billions of various bacterium and studies have shown that this bacterium can be partially responsible for your weight maintenance. Further research is underway to fully understand how the gut extracts energy from food in relation to the bacteria’s ability to influence weight gain or loss.

2)      Leptin is the scientific name given to the hormone that fat cells produce. When leptin is produced it tells the brain to begin using existing fat stores for energy. Sound simple? Sadly it’s not. Leptin resistance can take place which results in the body entering starvation mode and attempting to store more fat instead. Eating a diet that is high in sugar and processed foods is likely to lead to leptin resistance. By consuming nutritious plant based foods and avoiding any products that could cause your blood sugar levels to spike, you can have more control over your leptin signalling.

3)      It is essential that your thyroid be functioning correctly when properly managing your weight. The thyroid is typically the first thing that a health care professional will check for when you are trying to determine a medical reason for why you are not losing weight. If your thyroid hormones are at a normal level then this immediately rules out your thyroid as a cause. This is a very simple thing to check for and can be easily eradicated as a possibility.

4)      Heightened levels of cortisol in your system can also be a reason for why your body is holding on to excess weight. Excessive levels of cortisol occur when the adrenal glands are not functioning properly. Stress is the primary reason why the adrenal gland function may go awry and making appropriate lifestyle changes can help to get this under control.

5)      Similar to leptin resistance, insulin resistance can also have an adverse effect on weight management. This happens when your body is producing insulin but is not using it as it should. This problem is associated with type II diabetes, but can also take place in people who have not yet reached the full diabetic diagnosis. Insulin by nature is a fat storing hormone so when type II diabetes begins to develop, it can become near impossible to lose or even maintain your weight.

6)      The presence of toxins in your body can have a surprising effect on weight loss efforts. Toxins contribute to several of the aforementioned issues and can exacerbate existing problems. For example, when toxins enter the body they are likely to attach themselves to fat cells which will cause the cells to over produce leptin.

Stress Management and Your Diet

In order for our nervous system to truly relax, so do we! If we don’t, our stress can destroy our health.  The body is CLEVER. When your body feels danger (like being attacked by a woolly bear or being screamed at by your boos) – the part of the brain that controls fear doesn’t know the difference.  And so our repair mechanisms within the body that kill cancer cells, fight infections and yes, my favourite, slow the ageing process, shut down during periods of stress.  And how many of us are actually stressed all day long……?!

Eating the right foods plays a huge part in managing stress levels and is one of the easiest ways to manage your stress. Eating wholesome and healthy foods will boost serotonin levels which calms the brain. Health foods also build up the immune system and lowers blood pressure which both contribute towards your stress levels. If any of the following seven points ring true for you then you are more than likely stressed and need to re-evaluate your diet.

stress_management_and_your_diet1.   You have backaches and headaches.

If your cortisol levels stay high over a period of time, you probably have adrenal fatigue which increases the body’s sensitivity to pain – back pain, muscle pain and even headaches.

2.   Your sleep is broken or you simply can’t sleep well.

At night is when we’re supposed to allow our bodies to relax and restore, but if your cortisol levels are too high, you end up tossing and turning all night and feel tired again the next day.  OR hands up if you do sleep well but you still wake up tired?  If so, those high levels of cortisol are depleting the adrenal glands which in turn predisposes you to chronic fatigue.

3.   You’re gaining weight.stress_management_and_your_diet

Even if you’re eating well and exercising, you can’t seem to shift the weight and/or you’re gaining it around your belly.  Yup, once again that’s cortisol.  It tends to make you thick around the middle and store those last 5 pounds…. even if you’re doing everything right!

4.   You always seem to catch ‘the’ cold that’s going around.

Your body’s immune system is deactivated with too much cortisol and that in turns leaves you prone to infections and colds.

stress_management_and_your_diet5. You crave the ‘bad’ foods.

Yup, this one too!  That nasty cortisol raises your blood sugar, then the high glucose levels raise your insulin levels which in turn drops your blood sugar!  So, you’re back to craving the ‘bad’ foods over and over again.

 6. Your gut goes nuts.

The stress hormone cortisol heightens the sensitivity in your gastrointestinal system. So things like heartburn, cramps, constipation, feeling sick or diarrhoea are a result of too much cortisol.

7.   You feel blue.

Unfortunately, high levels of cortisol reduce the production of serotonin and before you know it, you’re feeling gloomy.

So, if any of these sounds like your life you need to take a close look at the foods you are eating on a daily basis. Try to make gradual changes to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole foods and raw foods such as nuts into your diet. Steering well clear of processed foods will also help you manage your stress and should be the first step you take!

Once you have your diet under control, you will soon notice your energy levels go up whilst your stress levels decrease!