Listening to Your Body

Listen To Your Body | Harmony Yoga Redondo Hermosa Manhattan Beach ...

Your body has a lot to say and is in constant communication with you.  Whether or not you are listening is the issue.  From waking up in the morning feeling tired to craving certain foods to feeling sore; your body is trying to tell you what it needs in order to be at its best.  I am going to try to cover these various messages your body is giving you in as succinct a way as possible, because each message could be a blog post in itself.

Let’s start with cravings.  Cravings can indicate anything from you aren’t taking in enough calories to support your expenditure, to some type of memory has been triggered that is making you want a certain food, to your hormones being at work, just to name a few reasons.  To avoid turning this into a psychology and physiology paper as I explain the interplay of memory and hormones on food cravings, I will just be talking about taking in calories to meet expenditure.  When you are undereating your body wants to get in energy as fast as possible in order to refuel.  This is why we tend to reach for the bag of chips or the cookies because our bodies have learned we can get a lot of calories in very quickly and often it is pretty tasty.  Learning to take in the proper number of calories to support your daily life is very important.  Your goals determine how you should be eating; when looking to lose weight and get leaner you will need to take in calories at a deficit, when you are looking to put on mass and get bigger you will need to take in calories at a surplus, and when just looking to stay where you are and support your daily life you should be eating at a balance.  This equation doesn’t look the same for everyone though, it isn’t as simple as just eat less than what you expend to lose weight and eat more than you expend to gain weight.  Each person is different and will respond to diets in a different way.

Waking up in the morning feeling tired can indicate that your quality of sleep during the night wasn’t that great or that you are not getting enough sleep.  Getting enough sleep is an easier correction to make than trying to figure out how to improve sleep quality.  Having a daily schedule and bed-time routine helps make getting the proper number of hours of sleep a little easier.  If you know you are going to wake up at say 6am every day, and that you want to get 8 hours of sleep then you should be in bed and asleep by 10pm every night. In order to make that happen you should develop a bed-time routine that allows you to be in bed and asleep at 10pm.  This can look something like finishing dinner by 8:30pm every night, turning off the television and putting away other screens (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.) by 9pm, having a book to read before you go to sleep, and maybe you have a white noise machine to help you fall asleep as well.  We as humans like structure, and by creating a routine for falling asleep it will help signal to your body over time that once ‘x,y,z’ happen you should be asleep.  Now waking up feeling tired due to poor sleep quality can be signs of not eating enough as well, having high levels of stress which causes your body to release cortisol outside the natural circadian rhythm, or you could have some illness present causing you to not get in a good sleep.  Depending on what the reason is for sleep quality determines what step you need to take next to improve the quality of sleep. (That is post for another time though)

Now to address being sore.  It is good to be sore because it means you have challenged your muscles enough be in a state of re-synthesis.  You worked out hard and now your muscles are repairing themselves.  It is not good to be so sore you can’t move every single day of the week.  Being in a constant state of muscle repair means that you never give your muscles a chance to fully recover and this can lend itself to injury.  Click here to read a previous post of mine on the benefits of resting and taking a day off from your training.

So, if you are reading this sentence, I am going to assume you clicked that link and read (or re-read s/o my loyal following) my previous blog post.  Taking a day off from anything is important to both physical and mental health.  You need to step back from whatever it is you do during the week in order to come back to it refreshed and excited to work at it again.  My fitness fanatics are probably thinking in their heads right now, but what about an active recovery day?  Yes, those are good but what are you calling active recovery?  For me an active recovery day is a leisurely walk or a casual bike ride.  It isn’t me jumping into the pool and swimming laps (no matter how slow I am going, swimming is actually a very interesting exercise modality when it comes to energy expenditure), or going for a long run, or going to the gym and doing accessory lifts.  Active recovery should be incredibly low impact compared to your weekly training.  There is nothing wrong with moving on an off day, but this movement shouldn’t be intense or high impact.  Off days are intended to be for taking your foot off the gas and giving your body the chance to recover and refresh.

This turned out to be longer than I intended, but the thoughts just kept flowing.  The sad part is I could have written even more, the science behind all of this are textbook chapters in exercise physiology.  What I want to be the takeaway here is listen to your body, it knows what it is saying and wants to support you as best as it can.  Taking a day off is fine, taking multiple days off is fine, you need to listen to what your body needs when it comes to rest.  Eat well and eat to support your goals, you get one chance and one body when it comes to living life, so live life well and treat your body right.

What COVID-19 Has Taught Me Expanded Edition

Some of you may have seen my short post from about a month ago about COVID-19 and things it taught me. When I posted that social distancing and school closures had just occurred, so it was pretty early on in this crazy “new normal”.  Now fast forward from that post to today, almost an entire month has passed, and I still stand by the things I said in that post, but I now have a little more to say.  I will repost below what I said in my previous post as a refresher for y’all and for those that didn’t see my post to get a chance to see what I had to say.

  1. I don’t appreciate the beautiful place I live nearly enough. Charleston is an amazing place to live and has some pretty great options to be outside and I don’t take advantage of that nearly enough.
  2. Supporting local businesses is so important. I love my coffee shops and local restaurants but didn’t even think how something like this would affect their livelihood.
  3. While I joke that I live most of my life like I’m in quarantine I’ve realized that a lot of the things I enjoy doing involves me being around other people. (going to the gym, sitting by my pool, sitting at a coffee shop, laying at the beach, etc)
  4. People can be selfish, and the internet/social media can be a toxic place, but I’ve seen a lot of people offering to help others in various ways which is an awesome thing to see. Overall things are getting pretty crazy, but it is nice to see people are trying to help one another through this, showing that there is still good out there.
  5. Now that we are quickly approaching a month of living our lives in isolation and quarantine, with an end not in sight I have begun to think about how I intend to live once life goes back to normal. This thought actually stems from a conversation some of my friends and I had after a very thought-provoking question was posed.  Individually we all had little things we brought up about how life was going and what we have been doing and are looking forward to when life returns to normal, but there was common theme we all seemed to share.  We all said we want to be present in the moment when we are with friends and enjoy the little things more now that we have seen what life looks like without them.  Just going out to dinner or sitting at the beach or in a coffee shop are things we missed being able to do and never realized how much we took for granted the ability to do that.
  6. Personally, I am going to work on making plans with friends more often and not saying no to going out and being with people as often as I did before COVID hit. I am doing my best to stay sane through exercise, getting some fresh air, and being in virtual contact with friends and family and these are things I want to carry over into my life when the quarantine lifts.
  7. I also found this has been a great time to do some personal reflection and figure out life (as best as I can because do you really ever truly get it all perfectly figured out). I’ve been doing some future planning, lots of reading, and some life hacking (basically trying to implement concepts from books I have been reading to live out my best life/self).

Yes, living life in quarantine has been and is still pretty wild/strange/annoying, but there have been some positive take-aways, and I am sure more to come being the end doesn’t seem to be insight.  I would just love to see a continued sense of community and willingness to lend a helping hand once life goes back to normal and people become “too busy” with their own lives to concern themselves with everyone else’s.  Stay safe everyone!

Eat Your Plants

I don’t want to sound like your doctor during your yearly physical, but eating your fruits and vegetables is very important to living a healthy life.  Last fall I took a very interesting class where I learned a lot about the powerful health benefits found in all plant foods(fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds).  This class made me take a step back from my eating habits (which was already fairly healthy) and made me start to really think about what I was eating everyday.  Eating ‘healthy’ is more than just eating salads and not eating fast foods/junk foods.  Eating healthy requires a mindfulness.  You need to be aware of the foods you are eating and what they have to offer you. 

In the class we talked about organic vs. non-organic fruits and veggies and it was very eye opening.  I know organic options are more expensive, but your health is worth the extra couple dollars spent on the organic options.  The non-organic fruits and veggies are either filled with GMOs or covered in pesticides/insecticides, which are harmful to health.  One way GMO foods can cause health issues is through the introduction of free radicals into your body.  Simply, free radicals are a form of stress placed on the body by introducing foreign substances to your cells.  These free radicals are very unstable molecules that steal an oxygen from our healthy cells (this is called oxidation) and they take over these cells and can cause damaging changes to the DNA of that cell.  Through this, free radicals can cause premature aging and increase cancer risk.  Luckily the best way to fight against free radicals is through antioxidants; and thankfully organic fruits like berries and veggies like broccoli, spinach, and kale are good sources of antioxidants.

So the next time you are at the grocery store take a peak at the labels and make the choice for organic.  It is a little extra, which is extremely upsetting because the foods that will give you a healthier life cost more than a bag of chips.  But honestly you can’t bring this money with you when it is time to leave this Earth, so why not spend a little extra money to make the time you have here as healthy and lively as possible?

That is my rant for this week.  Sorry I suck and haven’t posted in a while, I don’t have a good excuse for that.  I have been trying to enjoy my summer and time just gets away from me.  Thanks for reading!

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Hello:)

Hello lovely people! I wasn’t sure what to share with y’all today when my apple watch so kindly informed me that I should get active tomorrow to celebrate Earth Day.  So thank you to my apple watch for informing me that tomorrow is Earth Day and consequently giving me something to write about.  Like I said in a previous post about wellness, that it is more than just working out and eating good foods.  Wellness is about staying mentally healthy and what better way to keep your mental health than getting outside and enjoying nature?  Nothing brings me more happiness and calm than getting outside and enjoying a sunny day or a nice sunrise/sunset.  So I hope you all get outside tomorrow and get a chance to celebrate the beautiful world in which we live.  Go for a nice walk or run, or even just take sometime to sit outside and enjoy the little beauties of the world.  It is the only Earth we get and it does a pretty awesome job at suppling us with some yummy fruits and veggies and breathtaking sunrises, sunsets, oceans and mountains and more. 

Have a great Earth Day everyone!