Lifestyle

Holiday Travel Doesn’t Have to Destroy Your Fitness!

Vacations or business trips can throw our health and fitness goals for a loop, BUT they don’t have to!

Assess the situation: Is this a family trip with regular movement and activity as you explore? It could be best to let your body RELAX, REJUVENATE, and come back to your workouts stronger and ready to go.

However, we have numerous members and guest with heavy business travel schedules that can be harder to manage. This makes knowing how to stay fit on the road all the more important! It’s hard to build a routine and stick with it, so consider building a daily routine for no matter where you are.

It could be as simple as 15 minutes. If you have extra time in the day, fantastic! If not, you are firming up your routine and making strides toward consistent healthy habits.

Stuck in a Hotel?

First off, many hotels have fitness centers with free-weights, machines, etc for you to get a workout in, but even if they don’t that is no excuse to be lazy!

• Grab some paper plates from room service (even cardstock paper can do the job in a pinch). Use them as sliders to add intensity to your lower body mountain climbers, planks with hand or foot slides, slide back alternating lunges, squats.

• Grab a shower towel or belt and stabilize your lower leg lifts, or stretch the towel between two hands overhead and perform 10 get up sit up’s (lay flat with legs wide and straight, sit up with hands/arms extended over your head).

Access to a Pool?

Swim laps! Or if that’s not your thing, try to run laps/move through the water as fast as possible, or stand in athletic stance and move your arms forward and back (in a t-position) as fast as you can with water as resistance and similarly “flapping” arms up and down. The faster your move the more the water will resist you! Move slow for therapeutic range of motion, or bring some speed for high exertion strength training!

Have kids? They love to be tossed around in water and can be a great workout! But safety first!

No Equipment? No Problem!

Body weight can work great! Think pushups, lunges, split squats, dead bugs, plyometrics, and all kinds of other movements we already do at Ellipse! Add intensity by increasing repetitions, duration, or speed.

Keep it Simple: Choose 5 movements and perform 10 reps of each for as many rounds as possible for the time you have.

Or try out these body weight travel workouts we’ve already posted on the blog!
Workout 1
Workout 2

Stash Equipment in Your Luggage!

Get a resistance tube!

• These can easily be tossed in luggage. Resistance tubes usually come with door jambs allowing you to perform most exercises in the convenience of any room! With an anchored tube in a door you can perform tons of exercises including a chest press, row, pallof press, lat pulldown, shoulder press, tricep pressdown, and more. Using your own body as an anchor you can perform resisted squats, lunges, tricep extensions, shoulder press, and more!

• Ask your trainer for demos as needed. Create a workout by choosing a push, pull, lunge, hip hinge, and single leg exercise and perform 10 reps each. Repeat for time.

Get a mini band!

• You can add sumo/monster walks, hip bridge with abduction/adduction, resisted bicycles, standing foot taps, the options are endless!

• Find more band exercises by following these links!

Check out this video for some great suggestions, or this “Perform Better” article for tips on how to blast your glutes!

Hey Siri, Google, SOMEONE! I Need Directions to Fat Loss.

“Fat Loss Happens in the Kitchen!”
…or Does It? Truth is Truth.

Dan John, a celebrity in the strength and conditioning world, an Olympian, educator and author once shared that “fat loss happens in the kitchen.” He passionately expressed how important proper nutrition is regardless of what happens in the weight room, at the gym or even right here at Ellipse Fitness Training Centers.

Blasphemy you say?!

John recommends that people who want to burn fat should eat protein and vegetables and drink water consistently for two years. THEN, let him know how it’s going.

That isn’t the answer we want to hear – I know, but most of us know that ‘truth is truth.’

Let’s argue however, that ‘truth is not truth’ in this case. Don’t worry! Dan John is correct. Fat loss doesn’t happen in the gym, but we are not so sure that it happens primarily in the kitchen either…

Fat Loss Happens…

  1. In the Drive-Thru

  2. At the Gas Station or Convenience Store

  3. At the Concession Stand

  4. At the Grocery Store

  5. THEN In the Kitchen

  6. Finally…ON YOUR PLATE!

1. In the Drive-Thru

Sure. We plan to succeed, head to the store with the list in hand and meal prep on Sunday like we are supposed to, yet SOMETIMES we run late at work, traffic backs up and advertisements seem to whisper sweet nothings from the highway billboard lies of starting tomorrow, fast and convenient and only 99 cents! The next event of the day is closing in and nothing is going according to plan. THIS is where fat loss happens for many of us…

• Chic Fil A? Try the Market Salad: 330 calories, grilled nuggets, fruit, and super food salads!
• Jimmy John’s? Go for the Unwich: a pickle on the side for crunch, no cheese please!
• McDonald’s? Choose the Southwest Salad, Egg White Breakfast Sandwich, or Grilled Chicken Wrap to help mitigate the damage when you are stuck at this joint!

2. At the Gas Station or Convenience Store

Depending on the location, chances are there is a powerhouse gas station that has a full restaurant inside. Of course they have hot dogs, taquitos, crunchy salty things, and candy.

They ALSO often have fresh fruit, salads, nuts, jerky, or protein shakes/bars (watch those ingredients! Some are just candy bars in disguise…)

Fat loss happens when we choose right on a consistent basis, time after time. Build the habit into your life!

3. At the Concession Stand

Concession stands should be called “Greasy Carb Stands”. Pretzels and cheese, candy, and soda are more than just empty calories. These foods offer ZERO nutritional ingredients and turn the day into a hotbed of poor choices!

Some may offer healthier options like grilled meats, but game days is the perfect day to stash an RX Bar, Dale’s Bar or Quest Bar in your pocket, purse, or sports bag. Keep some quick-grab goodies in your car’s center console: dried fruit, nuts, jerky, seeds, or protein balls all keep well in the car especially through the winter!

4. At the Grocery Store

Obviously healthy and then not-so-healthy options are both available at our local grocer. Here are some tips to help:

Shop the perimeter of the store. This avoids temptation to throw the dry, processed goods into our basket.
Find the pre-prepped vegetables – even if they cost more to make sure they will be used to munch on or for a quick meal.
Check out the salad bar and get more prepared fresh food. Purchase 2-4 days’ worth of food instead of a week’s worth to avoid spoilage and overeating. Drink a full glass of water before shopping. Shop on a full stomach as often as possible. Make a list and stick to it!

5. THEN in the Kitchen

We eat what we see, and we certainly can’t eat what we don’t have on hand! Keep fresh choices on the counter, and in the fridge, whenever possible. Have some meals pre-portioned and ready to go when you need to grab quickly on the way to work or come home starving!

Become the primary shopper and take control of the food in the house! Utilize Shipt and similar services for shopping if time is short. Your health is worth the extra cost! Put poor choices in the downstairs fridge or on a basement shelf. Out of sight, out of mind is true.

Meal plan. Meal prep. Make food commitments to yourself! It may be tough at first, but with repetition it becomes part of your routine.

6. Finally, ON YOUR PLATE!

What you put in your mouth…this is where the true magic happens. At least 50% of your plate should be vegetables! This may be the most important step towards fat loss and healthy nutrition in general.

What goes on our plate and in our mouth is 100% up to us. Accept full responsibility for this! Our bodies become our journals and the writing doesn’t lie!

Be honest with yourself, stay consistent, and you will be strong and healthy.

5 Ways to Boost Your Breakfast Protein for Better Results!

Breakfast.

Just the word brings about warm fuzzy feelings of coffee, toast, pancakes, potatoes, oatmeal, muffins, and more…carbohydrates.

You may be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t find breakfast to be their favorite meal of the day, but there is often one major problem with breakfast – the lack of protein! (and veggies for that matter)

Work to get a protein source at breakfast as well as a vegetable, or least a fruit to pack some extra nutrients in your “most important meal of the day”! This helps to set you up for recovery from your workouts and ensures you are giving your body what it needs to reap the benefits of all the hard work you put in at the gym!

1. Start Simple!

Start easy by making a homemade parfait with plain Greek yogurt, fruit, seeds, and perhaps a dollop of local honey or maple syrup.

Greek Yogurt is a great protein source, but be aware of flavored yogurts!! You wouldn’t believe how much sugar they add into even “healthy” brands.

2. Add Eggs!

Eggs can be as simple as hard-boiled eggs (an Instant-Pot makes these super easy by the way!) or as fancy as a breakfast casserole (think leftovers for the week!). Check out this recipe for a breakfast casserole that combines spinach, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, eggs, and hash browns for a nutrient packed and high protein breakfast!

3. Add Cottage Cheese!

Cottage cheese can be added to many dishes to add a protein kick, like shakes and baked goods. Especially for those who aren’t a big fan, adding to baked goods is quite good!

Have you tried our classic Ellipse Protein Pancakes with cottage cheese, oatmeal, and egg beaters as the main ingredients?

Or maybe even go as simple as serving cottage cheese and berries with some Kodiak Pancakes. If you haven’t found Kodiak cakes in the store yet, you’re missing out!

4. Add Protein Powder!

So many people count on that quick morning shake or smoothie. Try adding a scoop of protein powder (and even consider a greens powder) to give your breakfast a major nutrition boost!

See the cottage cheese suggestion above as well, because it makes a great add-in to shakes as well to thicken them up and add protein.

5. Add quinoa!

Quinoa? That’s right! Quinoa has 8g of protein per cup – the highest of any grain – and it’s a vegan/vegetarian source of protein!

Try this Cinnamon Toast Breakfast Quinoa with cinnamon, pecans, and maple syrup! YUM!!

Or try this Sweet Quinoa Breakfast Bowl!

Break The Fast with Protein

Choose breakfast consciously instead of mindlessly grabbing the same thing each morning! Plan it like any other meal throughout the day.

Try adding some beans to your breakfast burrito or it could be as simple as adding some vanilla protein powder to your coffee in place of creamer (TIP: make sure to cool a small cup of coffee to mix the powder in first so it doesn’t clump from too high of heat. then add the rest after it’s been emulsified).

The New-Agers were Right?? It’s All in Your Head?

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.

~ Henry Ford

Well not-so-new-age thinker Mr. Ford, it turns out, was more correct than he knew! We’ve gathered up several studies alongside our personal, experiential knowledge to draw a picture for you that truly puts YOU in the driver seat (pun definitely intended).

Mindset

“Mindset” is the established set of attitudes held by someone, whether it is either negative or positive. You cannot have a positive life with a negative mindset. Your mindset not only determines your entire outlook on life and how you handle situations, but it also carries heavy impact for your health and the type of people you attract in your life.

Do you have a positive or negative mindset? Want to know what you can do to change it?

• How Old is “Old”?

A 2003 study concluded that people who thought old age started at 60 or less actually had a higher risk of serious heart problems later in life! Avoid the negative self-talk, and surround yourself with positive people and environments.

• Do you THINK you exercise enough??

According to a 2017 Stanford study which looked at mortality rates of 61,000 people over 21 years, those that THOUGHT they did less exercise than their peers tended to have a shorter lifespan – even if they got plenty of exercise. Of course exercise is still very important, but it’s interesting to note that your perceptions of it and yourself may be just as important!

• Do you talk yourself into failing?

Negative self-talk can creep up easily and is often hard to notice. You might think, “I’m so bad at this” or “I shouldn’t have tried that.” But these thoughts turn into internalized feelings and can cement your conceptions of yourself; they can become reality. When you catch yourself doing this, stop and replace those negative messages with positive ones. For example, “I’m so bad at this” becomes “Once I get more practice, I’ll be way better at this.” Or “I shouldn’t have tried” becomes “That didn’t work out as planned — maybe next time I will try it differently.”

Why Work to Change My Mindset?

Did you know that a negative mentality literally brings harm to your body? When you think negatively, dread about the future, or otherwise distress about things outside of your control, signals from your brain are sent out and initiate the “fight-or-flight” stress response. When you enter this state, many of the body’s self-repair mechanisms don’t function properly, and the immune system is suppressed. This means you are predisposed to illness!

Your attitude largely determines your direction. More Positive Thinking = More Positive Outcome; Smile more, be optimistic, and remember you are in charge! Be thankful, let go of regrets, and be kind to yourself!

“Every day may not be good, but there is good in everyday”

Surround Yourself with the Right People

When you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll hear positive outlooks, positive stories and positive experiences. Their positive words will sink in and affect your own line of thinking, which then affects your words and similarly contributes back into to the group!

Eliminate negativity in your life; positive thinking offers compounding returns, so the more often you practice it, the greater benefits you’ll realize!

WHO: Up to 50% of Cancer Cases Preventable with Lifestyle Change

National Breast Cancer awareness month kicked off this week, so we thought it an appropriate time to discuss how lifestyle, nutrition and exercise can reduce your risk of developing different types of cancers.

Cancer in general is caused by genetic changes or mutations leading to uncontrolled cell growth and tumor formation. This is part of the reason that it is so difficult to treat and study, because the causal factors are not quite as black-and-white as bacterial or viral diseases.

The good news however, is that according to the World Health Organization between 30-50% of cancer cases are preventable, and most often with simply a lifestyle change! Even in high-risk women, lifestyle change has been shown to decrease risk of breast cancer as well as other cancers. Let’s talk about what you need to be aware of and what steps can be taken to potentially reduce your risk of developing cancer.

1. More More, Sit Less!

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week. That boils down to 30 minutes of activity daily! Activity also increases your immune defenses!

Limit screen time. Consider investing in a fitness tracker to see what an average day for you looks like for movement.

2. Eat Healthy!

The Mediterranean diet for instance has shown to be one good guide for nutrition since it focuses on mostly on plant-based foods – such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.

Limit sugars, processed food, and red meat. Oh and…EAT MORE VEGETABLES.

3. Don’t Smoke; Limit Alcohol

Worldwide, tobacco exposure (chewing, smoking and second-hand) is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality and kills
millions of people each year, from cancer and other diseases.

Tobacco smoke has more than 7000 chemicals, at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. Interestingly, Tobacco PLUS alcohol substantially increases the risk. Also, according to the CDC more than 100 studies have found an increased risk of breast cancer with increasing alcohol intake.

4. Strive for a Healthy Weight!

According to Wikipedia, in the United States excess body weight is associated with 14-20% of all cancer deaths. Although there are much better ways to figure out what weight is the right weight for your body type, a quick reference guide is the Body Mass Index. Although we know that weight is not a perfect indicator of health (because it doesn’t measure overall fat or lean tissue content) it is a good starting point in figuring your potential risks and determining health goals.

You can certainly get a more in-depth look by measuring body composition via Bioelectrical Impedance, Skin Folds, Hydrostatic Weighing or other methods. Do your research and seek out a certified professional!

5. Get Your Routine Check Ups!

When it comes to your health and prevention of cancers and other diseases, healthy food, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight play a big role in prevention. Even the healthiest of us however, should still see a doctor regularly to be proactive and ensure everything seems up to par. Prevention costs infinitely less than the cost (financially, physically, and emotionally) of treating disease.

Do These 3 Things to Lose 2 Pounds This Week!

Are you tired of starting a diet only to start it over again and miss out on all the results you were expecting or promised?

SO ARE WE!

Let’s keep this simple.

1. PFW – Fat loss happens when we pay attention to what goes in our mouths. Focus on Protein, Fiber, and Water.

 • Stop focusing on what to eliminate and focus on eating more proteins like chicken, eggs, and fish.
 • Forget the trendy headliner diet and enjoy the fiber found in fruits and vegetables. The more fibrous the food, the more it satisfies.
 • Drinking just 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water will do more than just hydrate. Drinking this, relatively small, amount of water will curb an appetite and ensure the mind doesn’t get thirst confused with hunger. We recommend drinking your bodyweight in ounces of water. Go the extra mile!

2. Move MORE!

 • Walking at a leisure pace for 30 minutes 3-4 times each week can significantly decrease the stress hormone cortisol and allow the body to focus on other functions besides stress management. Fat loss is one of those functions.
 • Already walking and not seeing results? Check that it is a true leisure walk. The kind of walk that is not measured on a tracking device and occurs at a speed that would allow you to hold a cup of coffee or tea in your hand. Slow down a little. Something tells us that your life is moving fast enough on its own.
 • Truly leisure walking and working out and STILL NOT SEEING RESULTS?? Go back to tip number 1 for a seven day stretch.

3. Get some ZZZZzzzzz’s

 • No, we are not suggesting a crazy supplement or product called ZZZZzzzzz’s. We are suggesting that quality sleep can allow your mind and body to fully recover from the day.
 • This should NOT be underestimated! This will set all your systems and faculties up for success. Start each day rested and ready for results.

Our resolve will be challenged every step of the way!

Efforts to consume more PFW may be compromised or sabotaged by quick-fix shakes that offer little more than flavor and expense. Moving more does not entail moving all the time to continue eating, sabotaging, and compromising one’s self to avoid change. Avoiding change nutritionally is the equivalent to avoiding change physically!

Know this: We promised simple. That doesn’t necessarily mean EASY! It is uncomfortable outside of the comfort zone. Declaring war means preparing to battle, holding your ground, and occasionally…fighting back!

If you’re excited about the simplicity of all this, but need a little extra guidance and motivation then let us help! It is literally what we live for!

Our 21-Day Ellipse Fitness Training Camp will give you all the tools you need to get on your way to making staggering change that can last you a lifetime.

21 days of unlimited training sessions PLUS one small group personal training session per week!

Nutrition Guidance, Ellipse Cookbook, Simple Meal Plan and Shopping List!

Before/After Weight, Pictures, Tape Measurements and Body Composition to give you a clear picture of your progress and results!

Welcoming, fantastically supportive group atmosphere, friendly and knowledgeable coaching staff, accountability, motivation, and MORE!

Why You Gorge on Junk Food and Not Broccoli

Why is it so easy to cruise through a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream, but when you get to pile of broccoli, cucumbers, or chicken, it’s hard to eat more than a cup or so? Well the truth is, it’s a little more complicated than not having self-control or even because chips or ice cream “taste so good!”

The food industry is one of the most competitive markets and there are tons of companies all clamoring for your business. Go into the center area of any grocery store and you are inundated with boxes and bags of processed food screaming for you to buy them with bright colors and million-dollar logos! Each one touting low-carb, fat-free, vegan, organic, etc all claiming to be just what you need and want. But are they?

Let’s talk about the lures of “junk food” and why it’s so easy to overeat.

Whole foods are harder to overeat because they contain more filling fiber. Whole foods usually also require more physical chewing than their processed counterparts, and this is huge! Chewing actually sends signals to your brain which help you feel more satisfied and full. Perform your own experiment! See how many chews it takes to eat a piece of carrot, chicken, or broccoli and compare that to your favorite processed food.

Beware! According to Precision Nutrition, there’s a major restaurant chain that injects chicken with sauce to flavor and tenderize it so it requires less chewing…allowing you to eat more than you need!

Money – most everyone likes to save a buck. You can walk into most fast food restaurants and pick a numbered combo meal that delivers a pile of food to munch on. To get the same volume of food in a vegetable and protein meal (like a salad or buddha bowl) you will likely pay twice as much! Even at restaurants the most healthy options on the menu are often the most expensive. But the trick is, you probably don’t need the same amount of food as that double burger with fries and soda!

Pro Tip: Creating healthy meals with veggies and lean protein at home is extremely inexpensive! In-season produce can often be picked up for fifty cents a pound, and 4 servings of organic chicken breast is likely to cost you less than $10, so get in the habit of preparing! Don’t get caught without a plan and forced to meander through the nearest fast food drive-thru.

When it comes to processed foods (something that doesn’t grow from the ground, walk, swim, or fly) a clear majority of health claims do little more for us than the traditional “junk food” brands. When grabbing that processed food with the halo, compare the label to the equivalent “not so healthy” box. Understand what you are buying. Evaluate your pantry and stick with whole foods that don’t need labels. Organic Macaroni and Cheese is not so different from the blue box brand…

Trigger Warning! Find your trigger foods, slow down your eating, and be kind to yourself! Jumping on the latest “crash diet” is not a good long-term plan. Try being honest with yourself, with how you perceive yourself, and then find a supportive environment. Look for triggers to your food choices. Are you stressed, tired, or anxious when you turn to food? When you feel the urge to overeat, from stress or otherwise, try going for a walk, spending time with a friend or pet, exercising, reading, listening to music, or anything else that will positively distract you.

Have you ever noticed it’s easier to overeat at a buffet? When “trying a little of everything” you expose yourself to more flavors and textures that your body will be more inclined to consume more. This same phenomenon applies to mix snack packages with things like pretzels, cheese crackers, etc all mixed together.

Stick with fewer food choices on your plate if you want to keep your waistline in check. A rule of thumb is to stop when you feel 80% full, because it takes time for your brain to get the signals that you have had enough to eat.

Get even more info like this from our friends at Precision Nutrition, and as always remember to…

5 Fitness Essentials from Ellipse Fitness

Whether you have been at Ellipse for some time or are newer to the fitness world, there are a few things you’ll want to do your homework on.

Get a good water bottle.

Find something that will encourage you to stay plenty hydrated and is convenient, keep in mind that if it is a burden to you – you will drink less. You can even find double-insulated bottles that are easy to fill, clean, and keep everything cool for up to 24 hours!

Get the right shoes!

This is a big one! Sometimes when our ankles, knees, etc bother us, it could very well be related to the shoes we wear. Make sure you do your homework on the best shoe for you. Many appreciate the feel of barefoot shoes, some feet need support for over pronation, supination, etc.
Next, you’ve got to acknowledge when those things are worn out! Be sure to replace your shoes regularly enough. The average running shoe needs to be replaced about every 400 miles for instance…watch the wear on the bottom and sides. Don’t wait until you are in pain. Also, be aware that it’s a myth that shoes need to be broken in!

Recovery

Set yourself up to recover properly with enough water, sleep, and movement! This last one can often be neglected. We finish a workout, give ourselves a job well done and then proceed to sit around for the rest of the day, but this will only lead to more soreness!
Your movements may include recovery tools such as a foam roller, tennis or lacrosse ball, or even a TENS unit (electric pulse massager). Try not to only use the foam rollers at the gym. It’s a great investment to use at home as well, and they are pretty cheap. Tennis balls can help with those hard to reach areas and so can specialty rollers, like a Rollga, can help with different pressure points. Ask your trainer for the best recovery tool/process for you!

Back to your feet again…Socks!

It’s not something we usually invest in as much as we may want to, but a good pair of socks can go a long way to keeping your feet healthy! Too small of a sock and your ankle can rub on the back of your shoe. Too big of a sock and you can cause blistering.
Try some of our favorite brands like Darn Tough (yes, they make a sport line AND they have a LIFE-TIME guarantee! No BS), Smart Wool, and/or socks made of a sweat wicking material.

Gloves!

Still have that same set of boxing gloves from 3 years ago? It may be time to purchase a new pair! When the padding wears down in your boxing gloves, your hands can begin to ache. Just like your shoes, you should replace your gloves when they start wearing unevenly.

*Side note: Lifting Gloves – Although your grip can be impacted, some people don’t appreciate the calluses that can occur from regular strength training due to occupation or personal preference. For those situations, find a proper fitted lifting glove and keep packed in your gym bag with your boxing gloves, water bottle, sweat towel, and shoes!

What fitness equipment can YOU not live without?? Leave us a comment with your favorites and why!

Concerned with the aesthetic side-effects of working out? Well, a few months ago we went over the differences between deodorant and antiperspirant. Find a deodorant that helps neutralize your underarm bacteria. Each body responds to ingredients differently. What works for your friend may not work for you! You may need to experiment with a few to find the right one for you. At the gym, as a courtesy to others (especially with asthma), avoid heavy body sprays and perfumes/colognes. Have to run to an appointment after a workout? Keep baby wipes, or your favorite microfiber washcloth, in your gym back for a last minute freshen up.

7 Major Ways to Train your Brain for Happiness!

Neil Pasricha states it perfectly in his book, “The Happiness Equation” – most people have their happiness model completely backwards. For instance, we think great work leads to big success which leads to happiness. Neil Pasricha challenges this model saying it doesn’t work like that in real life. That model is broken. We do great work, have a big success, but then instead of being happy we just set new goals. We never get to happiness! We just push it further and further away. But if we take “be happy” off the end of the equation and move it to the beginning? Everything changes.

If we start with being happy, then we feel great. We look great and we end up doing great work because we feel great doing it. There are seven big ways to ways to train your brain to be happy, and you may be surprised how simple these are! You don’t have to do all of them at once, do one a week, or find one you really enjoy and do it weekly!

#1 – Three Walks

Happy people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything. Be happy first.

Penn State researchers reported in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology that the more physically active people are, the greater their general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. How much? Just a half an hour of brisk walking three times a week. The American Psychosomatic Society published a study showing how Michael Babyak and a team of doctors found that three thirty-minute brisk walks or jogs even improve recovery from clinical depression! Yes, clinical depression. Their results were even stronger than studies using medication!

#2 – The 20-Minute Replay

Writing for twenty minutes about a positive experience dramatically improves happiness. Why? Because you actually relive the experience as you’re writing it and then relive it every time you read it or remember it! Your brain sends you back into the experience. In a University of Texas study called “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words,” researchers Richard Slatcher and James Pennebaker had one member of a couple write about their relationship for twenty minutes three times a day. Compared to the test group, the couple was more likely to engage in intimate dialogue afterward and the relationship was more likely to last. What does the 20-Minute Replay do? It helps us remember things we like about people and experiences in our lives. You don’t have to do this daily, you can of course, but try it once a week to begin with.

#3 – Random Acts of Kindness

Carrying out five random acts of kindness a week dramatically improves your happiness. Most of us don’t naturally think about paying for someone’s coffee, mowing our neighbor’s lawn, or writing a thank-you note to our apartment building security guard at Christmas. But Sonja Lyubomirsky did a study asking Stanford students to perform five random acts of kindness over a week. Not surprisingly, they reported much higher happiness levels than the control group. Why? They felt good about themselves! People appreciated them, and they had a greater sense of self-worth.

#4 – A Complete Unplug

“The richest, happiest and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal.” A Kansas State University study found that complete downtime after work helps us recharge for the next day. Turning your phone off after dinner [gasp!]. Not using the Internet on vacation. Be present in the moment…for more than one moment!

#5 – Hit Flow

Get into a groove. Be in the zone. Find your flow. However you characterize it, when you’re completely absorbed with what you’re doing, it means you’re being challenged and demonstrating skill at the same time. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this moment as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” Do you get that from playing drums? Lifting weights? Taking pictures? Make time for it!

#6 – 2 Minute Meditations

A research team from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at brain scans of people before and after they participated in a course on mindfulness meditation and published the results in Psychiatry Research. What happened? After the course, parts of the brain associated with compassion and self-awareness grew, while parts associated with stress shrank. Studies report that meditation can “permanently rewire” your brain to raise levels of happiness!

#7 – Five Gratitudes

Remember this: If you can be happy with simple things, then it will be simple to be happy. Find a book or a journal, and write down five things you’re grateful for from the past week. The key is actually writing them down! Back in 2003, researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough asked groups of students to write down five gratitudes, hassles, or events over the past week for ten weeks. Guess what happened? The students who wrote five gratitudes were happier and physically healthier! Charles Dickens puts this well: “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, not your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

This post is adapted from an article by Neil Pasricha titled, “7 Ways to be Happy Right Now”

Learn more at The Institute for Global Happiness!

Free Radicals, Your Health and How to Manage!

Free Radicals

Straight from Miriam Webster: an especially reactive atom or group of atoms that has one or more unpaired electrons; especially : one that is produced in the body by natural biological processes or introduced from an outside source (such as tobacco smoke, toxins, or pollutants) and that can damage cells, proteins, and DNA by altering their chemical structure.

BORING…

But the important words are ESPECIALLY REACTIVE. Free radicals are desperately seeking out an electron pair – and the WILL get it one way or another. So how do we handle free radicals in our body, and where do they come from?

Free radicals are the main reason behind the recommendations for increasing foods rich in antioxidants such as blackberries, blueberries, goji, etc. in your daily diet. These foods essentially pick up high numbers of free radicals from your body when being digested, but that’s not the only way!

To quote Dr. Carol Davis (Professor Emerita – University of Miami Miller School of Medicine): “Over time, free radicals build up in our bodies. In order for them to become stable, the radicals must find an electron to “connect” themselves to. Where are these electrons then? Beyond the sources found in certain foods, vitamins, etc, we have an abundant source of electrons right beneath us in the earth. If we fail to connect ourselves with these sources, free radicals attack our healthy tissue to rob the cells of their electrons. The result? A high potential for infection and inflammation, among other ailments.”

Earthing?

From a scientific perspective, the idea is that the earth has a mild negative charge to it. Over time, especially in modern life, our bodies build up a positive charge. Direct contact with the earth can even out this positive charge and return the body to a neutral state.

Many people don’t have this contact with the earth anymore, and some experts wonder if this is a contributor to the many rising health problems we face today. As a population, we wear rubber shoes and live indoors. In theory, many of us could go years without directly touching the earth at all, or even being in direct sunlight!

Antioxidants

Vitamin E and Vitamin C are great antioxidant sources, and can be found in high quantities in foods like nuts, seeds, fish oils (vitamin E), citrus, kale, strawberries, green peppers, etc (vitamin C).

Antioxidants are the polar opposite of free radicals and are especially adept at neutralizing these otherwise harmful byproducts.

Where do they come from?

While not much is known for sure about free radicals’ effects on the body, scientists have theorized that they may contribute to everything from wrinkles/aging signs to atherosclerosis to Alzheimer’s Disease!

While free radicals do occur due to natural body processes, high levels of free radicals are generally associated with people living in highly polluted areas, people who eat fried foods and/or trans fats, people who smoke cigarettes, or people exposed to pesticides.

Interesting Fact: “Weekend Warriors” (as opposed to people who exercise consistently) generate far more free radicals during endurance exercise. Consider a more consistent approach to conditioning which allows your body to manage the stress and not become overwhelmed by the unusual strain.