Tagged "healthy tips"


How to Listen to Your Body

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we often reference the idea of “listening to your body.” It’s a concept that seems painfully simple and totally obscure: After all, you’re inhabiting your body 24/7: Of course you’re listening to it. Right? Wrong.

 

The reality is, we live in a world where our attention is constantly diverted. Just think about your day today – chances are you were paying more attention to the texts you were receiving during lunch than to the way you felt physically and emotionally while you were eating lunch. This is why we all need a little reminder of how to listen to our bodies – and while we’re still figuring that out ourselves, here is how we've learned to do so along the way.

 

Slow down.

It’s hard to pay attention to your body when you’re doing a million other things at once. So, one of the easiest ways to better listen to your body is to stop doing so much. Maybe this means taking a digital detox; perhaps it’s consciously focusing on one project at a time. Even doing the simplest thing like checking your email less can create some much-needed headspace to better hear what your body is telling you.

 

Be open to new possibilities.

Ever noticed how scheduled and/or “autopilot” your day-to-day existence is? Tomorrow, try being open to trying new foods, taking a different commute to work or testing out a new, random routine. The kicker: Let your body act as your guide. Maybe it will tell you it’s craving more water versus your usual morning coffee; perhaps it will take you on an ambling walk home from the office versus your usual efficient route. Be receptive, be unquestioning and enjoy the new possibilities your body is opening up for you.

 

Pay more attention around mealtimes.

If you’ve ever hungrily scarfed down dinner while watching the evening news – and then felt bloated and gross after – then this one is for you. Feeding your body is one of the most important ways you take care of it, but we often fail to pay attention to this critical act. As such, try being  more mindful before and after you eat, taking care to listen to what your body needs (“more greens, please”) while picking up on subtle cues (“you can stop eating, I’m full”). You’ll be amazed at what you begin to recognize and, chances are, you may address some nagging digestion issues, too.

 

Engage with it!

I find the most effective way to listen to my body is to get moving. Whether this means a long walk, a short sprint or a thoughtful yoga session, moving my body often puts me in the best position to hear what it is telling me and recognize underlying areas of tension, pain or even strength. But the key is doing this all “mindfully,” i.e., without outside distractions. So, if you can help it, avoid checking emails while on the elliptical and try to unplug from the news while on the treadmill. Ready? OK, dance party! 

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How To: Eat Out and Stay Healthy

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

We all know the perils of dining out while trying to be healthy. That innocuous salad? It's drenched in a sugary dressing. That simple piece of chicken? It's been cooked in about two pounds of butter. That single glass of wine? It suddenly turns into two... or three. As foodies who live in arguably the world's top culinary destination -- New York City -- we here at BHH love eating out. But we also love feeling and looking our best, which often can be opposing ideas. Ahead, we're sharing our tried-and-true tips for dining out and staying healthy. Read on! 

Make healthy suggestions.
Planning a work dinner or date? Jump in and offer suggestions for restaurants where you know have healthy and wholesome options available. Websites like Clean Plates are a great resource for finding healthy places to eat in your area.

Scope the menu ahead of time.
If you can’t pick select place, don’t fret. Look at the menu and see what options are aligned with your way of eating. If the menu doesn't have anything that looks remotely healthy, ask your server if they accommodate you with something special. Usually, restaurants have ingredients on hand and will be flexible if you're polite and honest about your dietary needs. 

Snack before you eat. 
I’m not suggesting you have a full-on meal beforehand but snacking on a handful of almonds or a lean piece of protein will ensure that you don't arrive at the restaurant ravenous. Preventing low blood sugar while heading out to a meal is great way to keep you on track -- and away from the french fries. 

Go for the 50% veggie ratio. 
When dining out (or anytime!) your goal should be to eat about 50 percent veggies accompanied by a nice lean protein and some complex (read: not highly processed) carbohydrates like quinoa. If you're desperate, hone in on any items that have greens and ask for the sauce on the side. 

Chew! 
Take time to chew your food properly. It not only encourages better etiquette, but it will also help you achieve satiation. That's to say, it takes about 20 minutes for our brains to realize we are full, so if you’re chowing down very quickly and without chewing properly, you may have a tendency to overeat.

Hydrate. 
Oftentimes we mistake dehydration for hunger, leading us to accidentally overeat. When in doubt, down a glass of water before diving into your meal. 

Count drinks and cap it at two. 
If you can skip the drinks, you’ll be doing your body and brain a favor. But if you absolutely must drink, make good choices and cap yourself at two drinks. Opt for a red wine (which has less sugar than white) or a clear, hard liquor without any sugary mixes added to it. Think: High-quality tequila with soda and a squeeze of lime.
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Could Skipping Out on Sleep Be the New Smoking?

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Okay. Real talk time.  We’ve all had to pull the occasional all-nighter, whether it’s to finish up work, take care of your children or play a video game ( I know who you are!!) In my twenties, I co-founded a marketing agency, and there were a few times where I slept in the office because I thought “I didn’t have time to go home.” So, instead of wasting 1.5 hours on commuting, I would stay at the office all night, sleep for 1.5 hours and then get back to business.

I can’t stress enough how terrible this is for your body. My lack of sleep and incredible amounts of stress were big contributors my worsening autoimmune conditions. What's more, studies have demonstrated that keeping your body awake for just 17 to 19 hours straight impacts performance more than a blood-alcohol level of .1 percent* (the legal limit in most Western European countries). This seemingly innocuous level of sleep deprivation slows a person’s reaction time down by 50 percent compared to a person who is well-rested.  So, if you’re driving your children around, or attempting to deliver a killer presentation, just keep in mind that you’re basically performing drunk.

So, what is the optimal amount of sleep?

It’s not the 8 hours the old adage would make you think. Though every body is different and needs varying levels of sleep and self-care Daniel Kripke, arguably the world’s most accomplished sleep researcher, says people that get between 6.5 and 7.5 hours of sleep per night are the happiest and most productive, and they live the longest. When we sleep, our body is focused on much-needed repair work. It’s the key to feeling energized, looking younger, staying slimmer and having a better functioning brain. On the flip side, too much sleep (anything in excess of eight hours per night) is actually correlated with significantly higher mortality rates.  Though, the research does point to lifestyle factors as contributors. So when it comes to sleep, balance is everything.  

Can we make up for lost sleep?

Many of my clients suffer from imbalanced sleep—they’ll get roughly 4-5 hours per week night and then attempt to “catch up” on the weekends. But, can we actually make up lost sleep?  A recent sleep study found that sleepiness, inflammation and stress hormones all returned to normal after weekend recovery sleep. However, measurements on performance tests that assessed participants ability to pay attention, significantly deteriorated after sleep deprivation and didn’t improve after recovery sleep. That is to suggest, weekday sleep debt can’t be recouped over just one weekend.

So what’s a busy professional to do in order to get the healthy amount of shut-eye?

  • Turn off all phones, computers, TVs, etc. an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from them tricks our brain into believing it’s time to be awake.
  • Keep your temperature between 65 and 69 degrees, as this is optimal for a sound slumber. Studies suggest that is where our bodies find the best sleep. Rachel Salas, MD, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University who specializes in sleep medicine, cites a National Sleep Foundation study that puts the magic number at 65 degrees. But this largely depends on your body and resting metabolic rate, so test temperatures in this range.
  • Cut out cured meats and cheese before bed. They trigger the release of norepinephrine which can make us feel alert and wired.
  • Try a few relaxing yoga poses such as corpse pose, relaxing hero pose or legs up the wall pose.
  • Enlist a professional. Acupuncture is proven to provide relief to insomniacs. If you’re in NYC, check out my dear friend and DAOM, Dr. Sarah Emily Sajdak.
  • Supplement! Melatonin, kava kava, Gabba and valerian root can also help to provide relief from sleepless nights. Don’t self-medicate though: Share your concerns with your doctor or healthcare professional for recommendations that are safest for you.
  • Set healthy boundaries. My clients who usually have to pull the all-nighters are often the ones who raise their hands first to volunteer for extra work.  While we know we might have to occasionally accommodate work at off hours, always self-sacrificing to “prove” yourself will only make you ill.  Set promises to yourself about what you’re willing to do and what you’re not.  If cutting into sleep consistently is on that list, make sure you have the necessary conversations to set you up for success in that way. 
  • Meditate or do some breathing. Another biggie with my insomniac clients is unmanaged stress.  They come home late and their minds are racing going through the day and all that took place.  When you’re trying to fall asleep it’s important to try and get out of your head and into your body.  A short meditation or breathing exercise like the 4-7-8 breath is a great place to start.  

 

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