Exercise for Mental Health

We all have our own reasons for exercising. Most of us want to look better, feel better, boost energy, and become stronger. But what about our mental health? Exercise does wonders for mental health, and I don’t even need scientific studies to prove it.

I lived it.

In my early twenties, my I neglected my health. I went though a bad break up, moved in with my parents after a few years of living on my own, and took up a bar tending job to finish my Psychology degree. I wasn’t exercising or eating healthy. I was just going though the motions until one day I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the reflection.

I blamed everyone else for not telling me what I looked like, although I would have probably bitten their heads off. I started to realize how long it had been since I wore something besides sweat pants and work clothes. I started to realize how crappy I really felt inside. I went to the gym thinking I would jump right back into the same exercises that I did with ease during my high-school lacrosse days and left 5 minutes later with my tail between my legs.

What happens next is most important….

I walked. I put on my favorite music and walked out the front door. I didn’t feel like it and I had every excuse in the world not to, but I did it. It was only for 15 minutes but I did it. And then I went again the next day. And the next. I didn’t drop an ounce at first, but it motivated me to eat a little healthier. So I did. Before you know it, I had a little pep in my step and felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It took time and I had to keep the motivation alive along the way, but the simple act of moving myself from the couch to the street was the beginning of a beautiful journey to health and happiness.

Your Brain On Exercise

Endorphins

Endorphin release creates a feeling of euphoria. Endorphins counteract pain receptors and trigger positive feelings, much in the same way as morphine.

I felt HAPPIER.   When I came home from my walks, I felt more positive. I went from being disappointed that I could only last 15 minutes to excited that I made it 1 mile.

 

Norepinephrine

 An increase in norepinephrine enhances the body’s ability to handle stress, which aids in anxiety and depression.

I felt more RELAXED. I stopped blaming others. I stopped eating or sleeping when I was overwhelmed. Instead, I walked out the door and didn’t look back.

 

Self confidence

I started to feel more COMFORTABLE in my own skin a little more each day. I stopped dodging pictures and family get togethers. I started becoming more social with each day, and it felt good.

 

Sound Sleep

When you exercise, your core temperature rises. As you continue to move around, you stay warm. When you wind down at the end of the day, your core temperature lowers signaling your body that its time to rest.

I didn’t realize how badly I slept until I woke up RESTED.

 

Inspiration

You start to realize that what you are doing is inspiring those around you and that is THE BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD!

I felt INSPIRED to share my healthy lifestyle with my loved ones which empowered me to keep going.

 

 

Regardless of what “moves” you, you will experience these wonderful things when you begin a healthy exercise regimen. So what are you waiting for? Get up and GO!

 

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Learning Paleo.

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Since opening the CrossFit gym, I have been hearing more and more about the Paleo diet.

Pa·le·o di·et
ˈpeɪlioʊ ˌdīət/
noun
  1. a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluding dairy or grain products and processed food.

Many people are convinced that eating Paleo is great way to avoid disease and achieve optimal health. Little by little, it has crept into the back of my mind that I need to give it a shot. For the past few years, I have opted for a healthier lifestyle by limiting my red meat intake, eating mostly fish, very little poultry, and vegetables. I will admit that I am NOT the best at avoiding dairy (especially cheese), and I love seeded/nutty breads and brown rice. This will be challenging!

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I am by no means an expert at this, so if I post something that doesn’t agree with the Paleo Diet please let me know. I am still learning! My goal is to try to incorporate new Paleo recipes into my diet for a few weeks with my husband and possibly start a Paleo Challenge if anyone becomes interested.

The simplest thing I have read so far to understand was eating Paleo “means” was to eat food in its most natural state. Not processed in any way; no unrecognizable ingredients.

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A few links that I have found helpful in learning about the Paleo lifestyle:

http://robbwolf.com/what-is-the-paleo-diet/

http://thepaleodiet.com/what-to-eat-on-the-paleo-diet/

http://paleoleap.com/paleo-101/

Our simple menu today was:

Breakfast: Mean Green juice and 3 hard boiled organic free range eggs

Snack: Mixed organic strawberries and blueberries + 1/4 cup whole almonds

Lunch: Large Salad (romaine, cucumbers, 1/2 avocado, tomatoes, fig balsamic/EVOO) + Seared Ahi Tuna (coconut oil,sesame seeds/seasonings)

Snack: Banana

Dinner: Cajun Rubbed Pork Chop + half sweet potato with coconut oil and black pepper

Tons of water!

I think we off to a good start. I will be trying out many recipes this week and keeping you posted!

-Leigh

http://www.fitfromflorida.com

PS.

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Oil Pulling: Does It Work?

Oil Pulling

 

A few months back, I kept seeing the headline “oil pulling”. At first I had NO clue what it was, I thought it had something to do with a car or the earth. 😉 One day, I finally decided to click and was surprised at what I saw….

I was all over it the topic and read multiple articles about oil pulling. There were mixed reviews: some called it a folk remedy with no proof, while others swore it was a miraculous health remedy.

I weighed the pros and cons, and there really were no cons. It was said to be harmless. What was the worst that could happen if I tried? Well, other than wasting 20 minutes of my life, nothing!

Below are the basics of what I have learned about oil pulling.

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What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is is an ancient remedy used for cleansing your body of harmful toxins and bacteria. It started in India thousands of years ago and was introduced to the US in the 90’s. There are many testimonials about how oil pulling has helped improve dental health and other issues such as acne and headaches. The main claim, among other many potential health benefits, is that it improves the health of your teeth and gums by capturing and removing bacteria and plaque.

What are the prospective benefits of oil pulling?

*whiter, more polished teeth

*TMJ relief (jaw pain)

*cavity prevention

*stronger teeth and gums; gingivitis prevention

*bad breath remedy

*headache relief

*skin clarification

*hangover remedy

*natural, harmless detoxification

What kind of oil is used for Oil Pulling?

In my research, I found that the two best oils available for oil pulling are sesame oil and unrefined coconut oil. Be sure not to confuse the sesame oil with “toasted” sesame oil, which is a specially oil used for flavor in Asian foods.

When and how do I use the oil? 

Oil Pulling is said to be most effective first thing in the morning. Before eating or drinking anything, gently swish 1 tbs of oil around your mouth. It doesn’t have to be vigorous to where your jaw and cheeks become fatigued afterwards. Gently move the oil around your mouth in order to make it through your teeth and around your gums.

How long do I “swish”?

It is recommended that you swish for 15-20 minutes. Supposedly, 15-20 minutes is long enough to remove the toxins from your mouth. Keeping the oil in your mouth for too long can have an adverse effect. If you swish for more than about 20 minutes, it is said that the bacteria can be re-released back into your mouth. So play it safe with a 20 minute time cap (you will probably be ready to spit by then anyway 😉 )

What do I do with the oil when I am done?

Whatever you do, do NOT spit it down the drain! Be sure to have a container ready to spit in and toss into the trash. I usually have a container with some tissue ready for safe disposal. It can clog your pipes and cause some major problems since the oil does turn into a solid when at room temperature.

 

 

My experience:

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I started out with sesame oil. I found the flavor a little funky, so I quickly switched to unrefined coconut oil. The texture was weird at first because it starts out as a solid, but it quickly turns to liquid (hang in there!).

At first, swishing for 15 minutes felt like a lifetime. I was watching the clock and could not WAIT to spit it out! After a few times, I got used to it just like anything else. Instead of counting down the seconds to spitting,  I just set my alarm while I made the bed and did other morning duties until the time was up.

I did find that the swishing relieved tension in my jaw. I guess the motion loosened it up after clenching at night (which I sometimes do when under stress). It became relaxing to me.

It is unknown to me if it actually pulled out any toxins or cleansed my mouth of harmful bacteria. However, I did notice that my teeth became a little whiter and felt more polished after brushing.

So, I generally oil pull about 3 times a week. I especially do it the morning after a cheat meal (or wine). I also make sure to oil pull if I feel a cold coming on just incase it really does get rid of bacteria and viruses…it can’t hurt! If nothing else, I can see the whitening benefits and I’m happy with a brighter smile! 🙂

P.S…

 

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Mean Green Juice

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If you have dabbled in juicing, you have most likely heard of the “Mean Green” juice. One of the many benefits of this particular concoction is the ingredient Kale. Kale is a superfood which I am sure you have seen on any top list of super foods out there. Due to its sort of bitter, pungent flavor, I would much rather extract its juicy goodness than munch on it all day long. This is my “old trusty”. I ALWAYS keep these ingredients on hand and juice this when I don’t necessarily feel like experimenting. I can count on this juice to give me a boost and satisfy my body’s need for nutrients

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My Version of the Mean Green: 3-4 large celery stalks 1-2 apples (depending on size, only 1 if large) 1 small cucumber 1/2 inch ginger root 1/2 lemon 6 large kale leaves Scrub all ingredients. Alternate ingredients when juicing to ensure an even mixture. Stir, shake, or pour over ice and enjoy! 20131121-123602.jpg

I prefer to:
Peel my ginger and citrus!
Use all organic ingredients!

Sometimes I:
Swap apples with pears or grapes for a change in flavor!
Use spinach if I run out of kale!

*If you have a really dirty batch of greens, you may want to mix a little vinegar into your water for extra cleaning.

No Excuses! Free yourself and stay active.

Does this sound familiar? 😉

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There is ALWAYS room to squeeze a little fitness into your day. I know that the majority of us have pretty realistic excuses such as busy schedules, tight bank accounts, injuries, or bad weather. Well, I hate to break it to you….but I can find a way around just about all of those things!! Don’t make excuses, you are only hurting yourself. Instead, be determined to find a solution and make yourself PROUD!

Busy schedules always seem to get in the way! Luckily, there are a variety of circuit workouts that only take a few minutes. If you are having a hard time pushing yourself without a visual, I know of a great 24 minute (yes, that’s under a half hour, people!) that will whip you into shape. It’s a great way to get started, with a little extra motivation from the instructors. There are 3 levels and modifications, so no intimidation necessary. $30 bucks and you’re on your way…excuse free. Check it out. Image

Click for more info.

Tight bank accounts are a stressor that can effect you in many ways. Can’t fork out the dough for a gym membership right now? Don’t have at home equipment? No biggie.There is no need to feel like you have to spend a bunch of money to get a decent workout. Actually, you don’t have to spend a dime! Well isn’t that peachy. 😉 There are plenty of body weight workouts that don’t require anything but YOU. So hop to it! Here are a few examples: href=”https://aspiringwellness.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/bodyweightworkout1.jpg”>Image Image

If you have any questions on these exercises click here to email me for advice.

Injuries are a big bummer! They can hold you back from MANY things, which can lead to depression. Don’t let your injuries trap you. Take every measure to find something that can accommodate your needs! Talk about it. Let people know what is going on. You never know what advice the people in your life may have to offer. Find a professional if necessary and let them know how much staying fit means to you. Ask for suggestions on how you can safely stay active. And remember….no matter what you are doing or how slow you go, doing something is better than nothing!! Which leads me to my favorite quote….

lapping couch

Weather. Wait just a darn minute! That’s no excuse! Suck it up. Either get a little wet in the rain, bundle up in the cold, de-layer and stay hydrated in the heat, or choose from the above workouts for an inside sweat session during hurricanes and blizzards. Did I cover everything? 🙂

SO get out there and get your workout on everyone!! You’ll thank me later 🙂

Have a healthy day!!

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PS. Have other excuses? Try me! I bet I can weasel my way around it. 

Create YOUR Motivation Board!

Staying in tune with social media can be really motivating. Between pinning, posting, and tweeting fitness quotes and other healthy ideas, we should be experts right?

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All of this stuff is fun to look at. We dream and wish that we could fit into that string bikini by summer time…but still never make the purchase. We relate to the quotes whole heartedly when they tell us to stay on top of things. But once we close the tabs and log off, life gets in the way. Our motivating material is tucked away somewhere on the world wide web as it fades from our minds. We may even be looking at so many different pictures and ideas that we don’t even know where to start!

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Let’s get old school! Needless to say, I love the Internet…but some things just have to be written out and posted in your REAL daily life. Out of all of those quotes and goals you are aimlessly scanning, choose some and get to it!

EWK_chalkboard

Make a personal Motivation Board!

No one has to see it but YOU. Hang it up on your bathroom mirror (or in another area where you will be forced to look at it daily)

Here’s how:

1. Buy a white board.

2. Pick a few goals. Ideas: Do you have an event coming up? Make it your goal to rock that special outfit. Are you trying to excel in a sport, such as running? Make it a goal to run 1 full mile.

3. Find a few quotes that hit home. Write them out.

4.  Think of a few daily tasks that you slack on. Examples could be drinking enough H2O, taking your vitamins, or cooking at home.

5. If you’re trying to lose weight, count down the pounds. Each few pounds lost, reward yourself! Write the rewards so that you have something to look forward to, such new gym clothes or a massage. 

6. Clip some motivational images from a magazine, or find that old photo of you when you felt the best in your life. Pin it up!

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The options for your board are ENDLESS! You can read quotes and look at motivational pictures all day long, but the real motivation comes from deep inside of YOURSELF. Take the time to find what is really important to you. It’s personal! When you write it out and read it daily, it becomes real. Make sure your goals are accessible and plant them into your mind. Once you truly envision them, just water the seeds daily and soon enough you will be making a fresh board!

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Take the ideas of others and use them only as building blocks as you create your own vision.

 

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My Motivation Board

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Lame or not, just try it. You might be surprised what it can do for YOU!

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SO…

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PS. Please share your boards with us on Facebook! I would LOVE to see your creation!

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Running Technique: Be Aware!

People enjoy running for a wide variety of reasons. Whether your reason to lace up is for health or fun, stress relief usually goes hand in hand. However, if you aren’t aware of your running technique things might turn out just the opposite.

Why do you run? Click to find what running means to you.

why run

Start off with some good ol’ people watching. Take a good look at 5-10 people and evaluate their stride. Can you guess what you might notice? Everyone has a very unique way of doing it. You can read articles galore about the “right” way to run, but the truth is that we all have distinctive qualities that set us apart. Some of us have short legs, long legs, flat feel, high arches, small hips, wide hips, my list is endless….but i’m sure you get the picture! What works for someone else may be uncomfortable to you. The key is to know a few simple rules to follow during each run. Complete a body scan every so often during your run to tweak yourself back into alignment.

runingoodform

Work your way from top to bottom:

Head

Be aware of your gaze.

-Don’t ever look down. Some people are very concentrated while running and may let their eyes fall to their feet. This could cause a lot of stress on your neck which leads to tightness and fatigue. Your gaze will guide you naturally, so keep it forward. Look ahead a good 50 feet or so toward the horizen.

-Pretend that you are hanging from an imaginary string from the top of your skull, keeping your head centered between your shoulders. Avoid leaning too much forward (or backward) by being aware of where your chin is pointing.

-Keep your jaw relaxed, don’t clench your teeth. Be aware of your automatic facial strains to avoid tension headaches.

Body

Good posture is key.

-Your shoulders should be low and relaxed. If you feel them raising to your ears and feeling tense, take a few seconds to shake it out. Treat yourself to a few forward shoulder rolls.

-Don’t be slouchy! Again, your your imaginary string to pull you up. Run tall and proud! By doing this, your torso and hips will be in optimal position. If you are hunching or tilting, take a recovery walk and correct it before continuing. Bad posture can lead to lower back issues.

-Engage your abs. Keeping a strong core will also help those pesky lower back twinges.

Stride

Keep it personal.

-You must perfect your stride to where it’s comfortable to YOUR  body and height. Try not to waste your energy by lifting your knees to far off the ground. A low, strong stride is better for running distance (versus sprinting). Keep your knees flexible and unlocked at all times.

-Your arms should be moving naturally. Be sure to keep a loose grip. It may be natural to close your hand, but don’t clench your fists. Lightly touch your middle finger to your palms at most.

-Don’t slam the ground with your feet! Your should land lightly. Briefly touch the ground and powerfully spring into your next step using your calf muscles. You should be landing mid foot and rolling onto your toes. A soft, quiet run is your goal. People should never be able to hear you coming.

 

Your simple checklist:

Looking ahead?                           Check! √

Loose neck/head/shoulders?   Check! √

Engaged abs?                     Check! √

Running tall with posture in alignment?   Check! √

Low strides?                      Check! √

Loose knees/ankles?       Check! √

Staying “sneaky”?   Check! √

chishoes

(is THAT why they call them sneakers?! Tee-hee :))

So there you go! Now you can complete your full body scan throughout your runs for an optimal experience. Keep running enjoyable! Avoid muscle strains, tension, and stress on your body.

And MOST importantly, stretch properly! You can scan yourself a million times, but without stretching you are asking for problems!

Read up on why stretching is so important and what you should be doing religiously.

Stretch (like Armstrong)

Mandatory Runner’s Stretches

Static Stretch Series