Get That Body Moving.. In just 15 min a day!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

One of the biggest reasons (excuses?) I hear for why people can’t work out regularly is TIME. Finding time to work out can be a challenge if you think of it as working out.  It’s a chore.  A bother.  Something to fit in.

What if instead of working out, you were simply making room for moving your body in a way that feels phenomenal, energizing, amazing?  What if this movement made you look and feel awesome in your body, and it was actually FUN for you to do?  What if it only took a time commitment of 15 minutes a day?  Would you do it then?

I imagine you would.

Who doesn’t want to look and feel amazing, and have fun doing it, right?

Well, this isn’t another fad or scheme.  This is just about you finding what feels good.

I used to drag myself to group fitness classes I hated, and force myself to get through cardio videos at home that made me miserable.  Working out was a punishment.  It was something I had to do OR ELSE.

Then I said screw it.  I decided that I would only do forms of movement that I love, and that feel amazing.  For me, that’s yoga, Pilates, and ballet/barre workouts.  I love those. I always feel more elegant, beautiful and slender.  I never feel drained or miserable, or like I’m punishing myself.

And guess what?  Once I decided to stop making myself do workouts I hated, and only did those I love, I found that I was moving my body more often, getting into awesome shape, and feeling phenomenal.

Now, I CRAVE my favorite forms of movement.  If I skip a few days, I feel it in my bones.  Not in a holy-crap-I’m-going-to-get-fat panicked way, but in a my-body-misses-feeling-amazing way.  And I’ll tell you what, that is some killer motivation.

Even if I don’t have time for a full yoga class (and lately, I don’t), I make a point of moving my body in the morning for at least 15 minutes, 5 days a week.  The other days, I’m out biking or walking or doing something else physical.  I never feel like I’m working out, and I never feel the pressure or weight of something I have to do.

So my advice is this: find what movement moves you, and do that, for just 15 minutes a day.

To help you along, I’ve created a YouTube playlist with a whole bunch of different workouts, all of them anywhere from 10-20 minutes long.

Check out my Youtube Playlist of Quick Awesome Movement!

 

—> For all you yoga lovers out there… Here are my playlists for Relaxing and Energizing Yoga routines you can do anytime!

—> For you total beginners, here’s my playlist for Beginner Movement!

—> Need some more help figuring out what kinds of movement you’d love?  Check out my article, What’s Your Exercise Personality? 

 

{Image: Pinterest}

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Sweat Outdoors for a Mood-Boosting, Stress-Busting Workout!

by Nkechi Njaka, Msc.

I am not a gym person. I cringe at the very thought of having a membership to sweat indoors. When I have belonged to health clubs, it was more for the hot tub, the sauna and the occasional yoga class (before I discovered studios, and before I was a yogi). But yeah, the gym? Soooo not my thing. Never has been.

As a runner, I’ve always enjoyed my cardio done outdoors. And studies are showing that there is something to that!

image

There have been several studies done where researchers found that their volunteers enjoyed outdoor activities more than indoor activities. Furthermore, when psychological tests were administered, these same volunteers scored significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem. All great, happy things! They also happened to display lowered  depression, tension and fatigue after their outdoor activity. [Source]

few small studies have found that individuals, after an outdoor activity, displayed lower levels of cortisol–a hormone we know to be related to stress– when compared with with an indoor activity. Another cool thing that happens when being outdoors is that we are directly exposed to sunlight (oh hey there, vitamin D!) which has been known to positively affect mood. [Source]

Perhaps I am spoiled. I live in San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the country and in the world. And in said beautiful city, I live in the woods near the beach. I mean, who needs a gym when there are trees and ocean? These are simple, natural things that our planet and our bodies need. Simple things that cannot be found indoors.

You know what would be cool?  An outdoor gym…

I live in a world (and a city) of possibility; I wonder if we can make that one happen.

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Sweat Outdoors for a Mood-Boosting, Stress-Busting Workout!

by Nkechi Njaka, Msc.

I am not a gym person. I cringe at the very thought of having a membership to sweat indoors. When I have belonged to health clubs, it was more for the hot tub, the sauna and the occasional yoga class (before I discovered studios, and before I was a yogi). But yeah, the gym? Soooo not my thing. Never has been.

As a runner, I’ve always enjoyed my cardio done outdoors. And studies are showing that there is something to that!

image

There have been several studies done where researchers found that their volunteers enjoyed outdoor activities more than indoor activities. Furthermore, when psychological tests were administered, these same volunteers scored significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem. All great, happy things! They also happened to display lowered  depression, tension and fatigue after their outdoor activity. [Source]

few small studies have found that individuals, after an outdoor activity, displayed lower levels of cortisol–a hormone we know to be related to stress– when compared with with an indoor activity. Another cool thing that happens when being outdoors is that we are directly exposed to sunlight (oh hey there, vitamin D!) which has been known to positively affect mood. [Source]

Perhaps I am spoiled. I live in San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the country and in the world. And in said beautiful city, I live in the woods near the beach. I mean, who needs a gym when there are trees and ocean? These are simple, natural things that our planet and our bodies need. Simple things that cannot be found indoors.

You know what would be cool?  An outdoor gym…

I live in a world (and a city) of possibility; I wonder if we can make that one happen.

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4 Surefire Election Day Stress-Busters

Still in line to vote after an hour and a half wait, I can personally attest to the need for some serious stress relief today! Check out this post I contributed to from The Daily Zeel for some ideas!

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After months of mudslinging politicians urging us to vote this way or that, Election Day is finally here. Off to the polls? Don’t forget to bring along these four surefire tips for relieving voter-related stress.

Yoga: Salute the Sun

If you need to relax after casting your ballot, try working off some of that nervous energy or tension with a simple yoga flow. Zeel Expert and SMARTer Bodies co-founder Melissa Gutierrez suggests something slightly rigorous, like a couple of sun salutations or, if you’re looking for a single pose, warrior 3. After holding the pose (which can create some muscle tension), Melissa recommends topping off the sequence with a few cat-cow poses to find fluidity in your movement and energy in the spine. “This little routine helps to get me to a more relaxed place,” says Melissa. “It forces me to focus and slow my breathing.”

Acupuncture: Point by Point

Endorsed by the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization, acupuncture may be just what you need to battle voting booth-induced anxiety. “There are specific points that help facilitate both an endorphin and serotonin (natural anti-depressants) release in the body,” explains licensed acupuncturist and Zeel Expert Bruce Mandelbaum. “The patient also is evaluated, and points are added to promote balance in the body as well. The treatments are pain-free and very relaxing. Change can often be felt within a half hour.”

Massage: What You Knead

Similar to acupuncture (only without the needles, of course!), massage therapy has the ability to balance hormone levels when your stress goes through the roof. “Massage has been known to reduce cortisol in the body and increase serotonin and dopamine levels,” confirms Zeel Expert Cory Moran, a nationally certified massage therapist. “Massage not only helps the body let go of physical issues but emotional and mental issues as well!”

Nutrition: In the Kitchen

“There are lots of foods that have a wonderful stress and anxiety-busting effect on the body and mind,” says Zeel Expert Natasha Uspensky. “In general, opting for grounding foods like whole grains, beans and root vegetables is great for staying calm, focused and firmly rooted. Foods rich in healthy fats like avocados, almonds or pistachios and omega-3′s like salmon and walnuts are also amazing for reversing the effects of stress. The combination of fat and vitamins B and E in these foods can have an almost immediate effect on a stressed out mind. They are also super stabilizing for blood sugar levels, which can be a major contributor to freak-outs when it gets low.”

In addition, Natasha touts the benefits of foods that are high in magnesium, like spinach and other leafy greens. Magnesium’s relaxing effect on the body and mind can “do wonders,” she explains.

Natasha adds: “A perfect stress-busting meal plan for a crazy day could be a bowl of grounding, fiber-rich oatmeal with some sliced bananas and a handful of nuts for breakfast; quinoa with roasted root veggies and salmon for lunch; and a creamy, calming tomato-avocado soup with rye toast for dinner.” On another note, she also cautions against raw veggies (“which although super energizing and creativity-boosting, can be too light and spacey for a stressful day”), coffee (“which can increase anxiety and trigger higher stress levels”) and sugar (“which can also increase anxiety, and lead to a blood-sugar crash later in the day”).

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Exercise for a Perfect Period

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

If you’re like most women, you reach a natural slump every month where it is just grueling to stick to your typical workout routine.  You drag yourself to boot camp, feel drained afterwards, and wonder what you’re doing wrong. Or you feel just too tired to stick to your routine, and end up skipping your workouts altogether for a week. This is because your body’s needs in terms of exercise vary pretty dramatically throughout your cycle.  In this installment of our Perfect Period Series we’ll be delving into the best forms of exercise to keep you in alignment with your natural hormonal patterns, which will decrease PMS symptoms, boost weight loss, balance your hormones, and help you feeling amazing and energized all month long.

Exercise in Your Follicular Phase

7-10 days from the end of your period to just before ovulation.

After your period ends, you will likely experience a gradual increase in energy, which corresponds to the rising levels of estrogen in your body.  Although you won’t be at your absolute peak energy, levels will be high, making this a great time for rocking some cardio.  Opt for running, swimming, group classes, dance cardio classes, or anything new.  In a few weeks, it will be much harder to motivate yourself to switch up your routine, so if you’ve been itching to try a new class or workout, now is the time!

Try Tracy Anderson’s Dance Cardio DVD for a super fun, challenging and sexy workout.

Exercise in Your Ovulatory Phase

3-4 days in the middle of your cycle around the time of ovulation.

As your body prepares to ovulate, your system gets flooded with all kinds of fun, energizing hormones like testosterone.  In addition to feeling sexier and being more attractive to the opposite sex, this phase also brings with it your highest energy levels.  This is the perfect time to rock some high intensity workouts like boot camp, plyometrics, Crossfit, or high intensity interval training (HIIT).  This is the time to really go for it, and luckily, your body will be craving the intensity, so it’ll be easier to motivate, and you’ll feel best afterward.

Try Insanity Fast & Furious for a quick and intense interval workout!

Exercise in Your Luteal Phase

10-12 days from after ovulation until the start of your period.

You may still be running on maximum energy for the first few days of your luteal phase, but as estrogen starts to decline, you may feel yourself getting a little more mellow.  It’s super important to stay in tune with your body and try not to fight against the signs it’s sending you.  If the thought of a hardcore workout is kind of a turn off to you in this part of your cycle, that’s a sign to take it down a notch.  Opt for workouts that are a bit slower and focus on strength training.  Pilates Reformer sessions, barre classes, ballet workouts, vinyasa yoga and weight training are going to feel really good in this phase, especially if you’re trying to conceive.  Stay away from anything high-impact that requires lots of jumping around.  As you move closer to your period, you may want to lighten up the workout even more– a Pilates mat class or yoga class might feel best! But do make sure to move your body in the weeks leading up to your period to minimize PMS symptoms (in combination with the awesome food choices we talked about in Eating for a Perfect Period)!

Try the Pure Barre Workout for an amazingly effective toning and fat burning routine!

Exercise in Your Menstrual Phase

3-7 days of your period.

The absolute worst thing you can do for your menstrual health is to ignore your body’s signals, scarf down some Advil and force yourself to hit your boot camp class or go running during your period.  With the sharp drops in estrogen and progesterone that correspond with getting your period, it is perfectly natural to feel a drop in energy and to need a little TLC.  Listen to your body, and hit a restorative yoga class (or better yet, do a little restorative yoga at home!) or simply do some walking.  Moving your body during your period can help to minimize symptoms, and it will simply help you feel better, more energized, and happier!  But if you’re in pain and need to take pills just to get to a class, you’ll serve your body better by staying home and showing yourself some love.

Try the Restorative Yoga Practice DVD for an awesome, calming at-home practice!

 

As with everything, be mindful of your body’s needs.  Some people just aren’t constitutionally suited for hardcore, boot camp-like workouts (people like me, for instance!), and that is totally fine!  Whatever your max is, your ovulatory phase is the time to do it.  Some people hate yoga (though I firmly believe that those are the people that need it most), and opting for Pilates and walking in the luteal and menstrual phase, respectively, is perfectly fine.  The key is to move through your cycle in harmony with your body, and not force it into any behaviors that are going to add up to fatigue, PMS, and the need for medication later on.

Happy exercising!

{Images: WeHeartIt, Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest}

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Fitness Trackers: Your New Fave Healthy Accessory

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

20140604-131458-47698269
All it takes is a peek at the wrists of your friends, coworkers and passersby on the street to see that fitness trackers are all the rage right now. And for good reason!

These unobtrusive bracelets track your steps, workouts, sleep, mood, food and more, and in the opinion of this holistic nutritionist, they can be an invaluable tool in understanding your body, setting and sticking with wellness goals, and getting (and staying) super healthy and fit.

For the last 4.5 months, my techie husband and I have been testing the UP24 Band ($127), and I have to tell you, it rocks.

The sleep tracker is top notch, better then most of the others on the market right now, in that it not only shows you how much sleep you’re getting, but also how much deep sleep and light sleep. I can tell you from UP Band experience, 8 hours of mostly light sleep can feel like getting just 3-4 hours of rest in a night, and leads to a very groggy, moody day. Whereas just 6 hours of mostly deep sleep can feel like a blissful, 9 hours of rest, leading to an energized, happy and productive day.

From tracking the detailed quality of my sleep, I can see how that 4pm green tea, late night Walking Dead marathon, big dinner out, or sedentary day at my computer effect my sleep, which gives me so much more insight into exactly what I need to do to ensure high quality, restful, energizing sleep. (Hint: no caffeine after 3pm; a light, veggie dinner; and being in bed by 10:45 with a great book are key)

The step and activity tracker is also awesome, and has really shed the harsh light of reality on what I thought was a pretty active lifestyle. On days when I work from home, I average just 4000 steps, wayyyy below the recommended 10,000 step goal that the program encourages. I now make sure to take my dog on longer walks, find myself taking the stairs way more, and yes, even dancing around my apartment or running in place during workday breaks to get me closer to my goal.

My UP Band has also transformed my attitude towards walking. Whereas before, I would count proximity and convenient above all else, now I don’t think twice about trekking the extra 7 blocks to the organic juice bar I love, or schlepping for 15 minutes from the train to a doctors appointment. If anything, I get excited about the steps I’m racking up, and eagerly await the positive reinforcement I receive from the app.

UP24 App on the Organic BeautyThe app does a great job of encouraging you to keep improving, with incremental increases to your steps, water intake, and sleep. It gives you great daily motivations, with health and nutrition factoids (most of which I actually agree with!), and comparative data on your past weeks. “You’ve walked 30,000 steps already this week, putting you in the top percentile for UP users in your age group! Keep up the great work!”

Perhaps the most useful tool in keeping me on track is the Team function, which allows you to share your feed and stats with other users you know. Though my team is just comprised of my husband and I, we’re a pretty competitive lot. Though he consistently beats my daily count by about 4,000-5,000 steps (he has a standing desk at work, and paces ALL day long — I swear!), knowing that someone else will know if I only leave the house once all day, and spend 8 hours straight in front of my computer is an excellent motivator to get moving.

We routinely leave comments and little emoticons of playful judgement or encouragement on each others feeds, making the whole thing so much more fun, interactive, and social.

The other features include a pretty comprehensive activity tracker, with tons of different forms of exercise and movement to choose from, as well as difficulty levels, and though I’m not into calorie tracking, it’s really interesting to see how many I burned off with that intensive yoga class, bike ride to Whole Foods, or dancing with my girlfriends.

The food tracker isn’t that great, admittedly. It has limited options to choose from, and although you can scan in bar codes, I find the whole process to be rather tedious. I much prefer taking beautiful Instagram photos of my food as a way to make sure that everything I’m eating is healthy and beautiful. But if you’re interested in tracking the nutritional value of your eating, the UP Band has you covered. It features a neat little breakdown of how your diet measure in terms of fat, sugar, salt, protein, carbs, fiber, etc.. Which can be super illuminating!

In short, I love my UP Band, and it definitely took my healthy lifestyle from great to supercharged. For anyone looking to make some measurable changes to their health, it’s an invaluable tool that makes getting healthy way more fun!

For a comprehensive comparison of the different fitness trackers out there,
click here.

Images: Pinterest & Pinterest

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Fitness Trackers: Your New Fave Healthy Accessory

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

20140604-131458-47698269
All it takes is a peek at the wrists of your friends, coworkers and passersby on the street to see that fitness trackers are all the rage right now. And for good reason!

These unobtrusive bracelets track your steps, workouts, sleep, mood, food and more, and in the opinion of this holistic nutritionist, they can be an invaluable tool in understanding your body, setting and sticking with wellness goals, and getting (and staying) super healthy and fit.

For the last 4.5 months, my techie husband and I have been testing the UP24 Band ($127), and I have to tell you, it rocks.

The sleep tracker is top notch, better then most of the others on the market right now, in that it not only shows you how much sleep you’re getting, but also how much deep sleep and light sleep. I can tell you from UP Band experience, 8 hours of mostly light sleep can feel like getting just 3-4 hours of rest in a night, and leads to a very groggy, moody day. Whereas just 6 hours of mostly deep sleep can feel like a blissful, 9 hours of rest, leading to an energized, happy and productive day.

From tracking the detailed quality of my sleep, I can see how that 4pm green tea, late night Walking Dead marathon, big dinner out, or sedentary day at my computer effect my sleep, which gives me so much more insight into exactly what I need to do to ensure high quality, restful, energizing sleep. (Hint: no caffeine after 3pm; a light, veggie dinner; and being in bed by 10:45 with a great book are key)

The step and activity tracker is also awesome, and has really shed the harsh light of reality on what I thought was a pretty active lifestyle. On days when I work from home, I average just 4000 steps, wayyyy below the recommended 10,000 step goal that the program encourages. I now make sure to take my dog on longer walks, find myself taking the stairs way more, and yes, even dancing around my apartment or running in place during workday breaks to get me closer to my goal.

My UP Band has also transformed my attitude towards walking. Whereas before, I would count proximity and convenient above all else, now I don’t think twice about trekking the extra 7 blocks to the organic juice bar I love, or schlepping for 15 minutes from the train to a doctors appointment. If anything, I get excited about the steps I’m racking up, and eagerly await the positive reinforcement I receive from the app.

UP24 App on the Organic BeautyThe app does a great job of encouraging you to keep improving, with incremental increases to your steps, water intake, and sleep. It gives you great daily motivations, with health and nutrition factoids (most of which I actually agree with!), and comparative data on your past weeks. “You’ve walked 30,000 steps already this week, putting you in the top percentile for UP users in your age group! Keep up the great work!”

Perhaps the most useful tool in keeping me on track is the Team function, which allows you to share your feed and stats with other users you know. Though my team is just comprised of my husband and I, we’re a pretty competitive lot. Though he consistently beats my daily count by about 4,000-5,000 steps (he has a standing desk at work, and paces ALL day long — I swear!), knowing that someone else will know if I only leave the house once all day, and spend 8 hours straight in front of my computer is an excellent motivator to get moving.

We routinely leave comments and little emoticons of playful judgement or encouragement on each others feeds, making the whole thing so much more fun, interactive, and social.

The other features include a pretty comprehensive activity tracker, with tons of different forms of exercise and movement to choose from, as well as difficulty levels, and though I’m not into calorie tracking, it’s really interesting to see how many I burned off with that intensive yoga class, bike ride to Whole Foods, or dancing with my girlfriends.

The food tracker isn’t that great, admittedly. It has limited options to choose from, and although you can scan in bar codes, I find the whole process to be rather tedious. I much prefer taking beautiful Instagram photos of my food as a way to make sure that everything I’m eating is healthy and beautiful. But if you’re interested in tracking the nutritional value of your eating, the UP Band has you covered. It features a neat little breakdown of how your diet measure in terms of fat, sugar, salt, protein, carbs, fiber, etc.. Which can be super illuminating!

In short, I love my UP Band, and it definitely took my healthy lifestyle from great to supercharged. For anyone looking to make some measurable changes to their health, it’s an invaluable tool that makes getting healthy way more fun!

For a comprehensive comparison of the different fitness trackers out there,
click here.

Images: Pinterest & Pinterest

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Naturally Beat Those Winter Blues!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Whether or not you actually suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it is pretty tough to not get bummed when it’s freezing and grey outside for days on end.  Our social lives take a major hit, and we are much more likely to crave getting all bundled up and cozy at home than a night on the town.  It’s harder to motivate ourselves to get to the gym, and those cravings for comfort food just don’t let up. But fear not!  With just a few daily steps, you can naturally beat the winter blues, improve your mood and energy, and keep your system on track.

Catch some daylight!  Especially when the days are shorter and darker, it is that much more important to get exposure to daylight.  Ideally, this would be direct light outside, but, when it’s frigid and miserable outside, getting some daylight through a window does the trick too!  Leave your blinds open at night, so the morning light can wake you up and help regulate your production of melatonin, and thereby, your sleep cycle!  Keeping a regular sleep-wake cycle is vital to staving off wintertime depression. If your bedroom doesn’t get much natural light, then stand dreamily in front of your brightest window for a couple of minutes right when you wake up!  It’s a nice little morning ritual with wonderful health benefits.Exercise!  I know it’s hard to get to the gym when it’s 0 degrees outside, but it’ll pay off in terms of your motivation and energy, which will help you tons in the long run.  If it’s super gross out, just work out at home!  Don’t let the weather be an excuse to skimp on exercise!  Find a dvd that you love, and sweat it out in the warmth and comfort of your living room.  Exercise is one of the best natural antidepressants out there!Take some fish oil.  Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA, are amazing for balancing mood and staving off depression.  Even if you eat fish regularly, supplement with 2-3 grams of high EPA fish oil every day.  My favorite is NOW Super EPA.. I take it every day!Take vitamin D.  In the dark of winter, especially in the northern parts of this fair country, it is impossible to get enough vitamin D from sunlight.  The result is that we’re all running around completely deficient in this important nutrient!  Low levels of vitamin D can cause depression, lowered immunity, anxiety, higher stress levels, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms.  It is absolutely crucial to supplement with a high quality vitamin D during the winter months, and for many of us, year round!  Opt for at least 3000-4000 IU of sublingual vitamin D daily.  My favorite is Biotics Bio-D-Mulsion Forte.. Just two drops under your tongue in the morning and you’re good to go!Load up on plant nutrients.  Plant foods are nature’s amazing natural mood-boosters, and it is super easy to eat your way to a fantastic mood even in the greyest of winters.  Whole grains like amaranth and quinoa are great for raising serotonin, which is your brain’s natural feel-good neurotransmitter.  Olive oil and other healthy fats like avocados and nuts are also wonderful natural antidepressants.  Green leafies like spinach and collards are loaded with folate, which along with other B vitamins, is vital for regulating mood.Treat yourself!  Plan a fun winter getaway weekend, a spa day, a fun party, or even some nights at the theater, a concert, or the opera!  Having some exciting things to look forward to is a great way to boost your mood and break up the monotony of a long winter.

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Cartoon Inspiration Brings Health Motivation

By Callie McBride

I find that some of my favorite motivation to stay healthy and happy comes from the Internet. Whether on Facebook or Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram, the constant progression of technology brings with it endless resources for support for, education toward, interaction with all things health and wellness.

Think about it: there are forums to join when you want to become vegan (thekindlife.com); there are Facebook pages to “like” to receive updates about health and wellness events (wellandgoodnyc.com); and there are plenty of Twitter accounts to follow and browse through feed for the latest trends and tips in holistic living (@NU_Health).

For me, cartoon images are what get the job done. They make me think, laugh, and become inspired to take my health to entirely new levels with unique recipes and challenging workouts. C’mon? How does that hilarious little broccoli man not make you smile?

What’s so fantastic about online resources is that so many people are attracted to them, so you will constantly find new content: foods and recipes, workouts and exercise classes, new information about health benefits, and even people to connect with. Events such as vegan meet-ups, central park running groups, and free cooking classes exist for a reason: they allow like-minded folks like us to experience the joys of healthy living as one big unit full of support and understanding.

Here are a few resources to peruse on your lunch break or lazy weekend:Facebook:

Facebook.com/nuhealthandwellness

https://www.facebook.com/FullyRawKristina

https://www.facebook.com/TaraStilesLiving

Twitter:

@nu_health

@MindBodyGreen

@HealthyLiving (Huffington Post)

Tumblr/Blogs:

tully-lou.tumblr.com (an Australian yoga clothing brand’s cute inspiration page)

The Chalkboard Mag (Pressed Juicery’s online vision board of health and wellness)

John Douillard’s LifeSpa (an awesomely nerdy and incredibly informative resource for ayurvedic health)

Okay, I think I’ve made my point. The real business here is the adorable and pleasant cartoon inspiration I found throughout the week that made me laugh and consider my relationship with food. Enjoy, and this weekend, spend some time finding your own motivation! Comment and share yourfavorite sources of inspiration.

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{All images via fitnessporn}

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Fitness Trackers: Your New Fave Healthy Accessory

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

20140604-131458-47698269
All it takes is a peek at the wrists of your friends, coworkers and passersby on the street to see that fitness trackers are all the rage right now. And for good reason!

These unobtrusive bracelets track your steps, workouts, sleep, mood, food and more, and in the opinion of this holistic nutritionist, they can be an invaluable tool in understanding your body, setting and sticking with wellness goals, and getting (and staying) super healthy and fit.

For the last 4.5 months, my techie husband and I have been testing the UP24 Band ($127), and I have to tell you, it rocks.

The sleep tracker is top notch, better then most of the others on the market right now, in that it not only shows you how much sleep you’re getting, but also how much deep sleep and light sleep. I can tell you from UP Band experience, 8 hours of mostly light sleep can feel like getting just 3-4 hours of rest in a night, and leads to a very groggy, moody day. Whereas just 6 hours of mostly deep sleep can feel like a blissful, 9 hours of rest, leading to an energized, happy and productive day.

From tracking the detailed quality of my sleep, I can see how that 4pm green tea, late night Walking Dead marathon, big dinner out, or sedentary day at my computer effect my sleep, which gives me so much more insight into exactly what I need to do to ensure high quality, restful, energizing sleep. (Hint: no caffeine after 3pm; a light, veggie dinner; and being in bed by 10:45 with a great book are key)

The step and activity tracker is also awesome, and has really shed the harsh light of reality on what I thought was a pretty active lifestyle. On days when I work from home, I average just 4000 steps, wayyyy below the recommended 10,000 step goal that the program encourages. I now make sure to take my dog on longer walks, find myself taking the stairs way more, and yes, even dancing around my apartment or running in place during workday breaks to get me closer to my goal.

My UP Band has also transformed my attitude towards walking. Whereas before, I would count proximity and convenient above all else, now I don’t think twice about trekking the extra 7 blocks to the organic juice bar I love, or schlepping for 15 minutes from the train to a doctors appointment. If anything, I get excited about the steps I’m racking up, and eagerly await the positive reinforcement I receive from the app.

UP24 App on the Organic BeautyThe app does a great job of encouraging you to keep improving, with incremental increases to your steps, water intake, and sleep. It gives you great daily motivations, with health and nutrition factoids (most of which I actually agree with!), and comparative data on your past weeks. “You’ve walked 30,000 steps already this week, putting you in the top percentile for UP users in your age group! Keep up the great work!”

Perhaps the most useful tool in keeping me on track is the Team function, which allows you to share your feed and stats with other users you know. Though my team is just comprised of my husband and I, we’re a pretty competitive lot. Though he consistently beats my daily count by about 4,000-5,000 steps (he has a standing desk at work, and paces ALL day long — I swear!), knowing that someone else will know if I only leave the house once all day, and spend 8 hours straight in front of my computer is an excellent motivator to get moving.

We routinely leave comments and little emoticons of playful judgement or encouragement on each others feeds, making the whole thing so much more fun, interactive, and social.

The other features include a pretty comprehensive activity tracker, with tons of different forms of exercise and movement to choose from, as well as difficulty levels, and though I’m not into calorie tracking, it’s really interesting to see how many I burned off with that intensive yoga class, bike ride to Whole Foods, or dancing with my girlfriends.

The food tracker isn’t that great, admittedly. It has limited options to choose from, and although you can scan in bar codes, I find the whole process to be rather tedious. I much prefer taking beautiful Instagram photos of my food as a way to make sure that everything I’m eating is healthy and beautiful. But if you’re interested in tracking the nutritional value of your eating, the UP Band has you covered. It features a neat little breakdown of how your diet measure in terms of fat, sugar, salt, protein, carbs, fiber, etc.. Which can be super illuminating!

In short, I love my UP Band, and it definitely took my healthy lifestyle from great to supercharged. For anyone looking to make some measurable changes to their health, it’s an invaluable tool that makes getting healthy way more fun!

For a comprehensive comparison of the different fitness trackers out there,
click here.

Images: Pinterest & Pinterest

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