Category Archives: Health

Let’s Talk Supplements

So this morning has been interesting. We had pretty bad storms last night with non-stop thunder which lead to quite the restless sleep.  Unfortunately I had to wake up at 5AM to get to work…with no power in my house.  Gotta love getting ready in the dark!

As you’d probably expect, I look completely glamorous today.

Staff Worker or Criminal?

Luckily I work in a gym setting so people don’t expect much from me (at least that’s what I tell myself).   This coffee is my best friend right now 🙂

On the positive side, I just read the weather forecast and we’re supposed to have a great stretch of sunny days coming up.

I need to soak em’ up while I can.  It is Cleveland, OH and soon enough it will be a winter wonderland!

Let’s Talk Supplements

Along with my coffee and breakfast (which was a mix of Shredded Wheat and Peanut Butter Puffins cereal with strawberries and soy milk), I also had my daily multivitamin.

Typically I take these specific brands that I talked about in a previous post.  I usually get them at the local Vitamin Shoppe or order online from them.

But when I ran out of multivitamins a couple of months ago, I figured I would try out a new brand.  I went with Trader Joe’s brand and I actually really like it.  It doesn’t have a full day of iron, which I also like.  Too much iron in a supplement does not agree with my stomach (which is common) and can ‘back me up’ so to speak. Not fun! 

Along with trying my best to eat a healthy diet full of variety and nutrients and exercising, I always try and remember to take my supplements.  I don’t know if they really do anything to be honest.  But I feel like it’s my “insurance” in a way.

Product Review

Recently I was asked to review some products by Sun Chlorella. I was familiar with the product since I did work in a supplement store for a few months while I was in between jobs, but I had never taken anything by this brand.

I was sent a package of Sun Eleuthero Tea along with some Sun Elethero Tablets.

From their Website:

Sun Eleuthero is an herb that can give your body a natural energy boost, decrease stress, and support your body’s fight against the ill-effects of modern living — without dangerous side effects. Eleuthero is an “adaptogen,” which is defined as “a non-toxic substance which reinforces the body’s ability to react to stress.” Eleuthero is considered one of nature’s most powerful, adaptogenic herbs.

When I worked in the supplement store last summer I learned a lot about vitamins and herbs and really found it all fascinating.  I had no idea so many herbs existed, eleuthero being one of them.

My Thoughts

I took the supplements daily (although I did forget a few times!) for the 20 days of tablets provided.  I also tried some of the tea.

I didn’t feel a difference in my energy, but that may be due to the fact that I already take a multivitamin, exercise regularly, eat well, and sleep enough.  I certainly didn’t feel anything extra, but I also don’t feel like I am lacking in energy to begin with (besides today of course!)

I liked the tea better than the tablets simply based on personal preference.  I love herbal teas.  Plus, the manufacturer recommends that you take 15 tablets a day.  Way too many for me. I’m a ‘one-a-day’ kinda gal.

I think the product is fine and the company seems reputable.  And although I would not personally buy this product in the future (mainly because supplements are expensive), I do think it can be useful for someone else who wants to use herbal products to supplement their diet.

Question:

What supplements do you use? Why?

Let's Talk Supplements

So this morning has been interesting. We had pretty bad storms last night with non-stop thunder which lead to quite the restless sleep.  Unfortunately I had to wake up at 5AM to get to work…with no power in my house.  Gotta love getting ready in the dark!

As you’d probably expect, I look completely glamorous today.

Staff Worker or Criminal?

Luckily I work in a gym setting so people don’t expect much from me (at least that’s what I tell myself).   This coffee is my best friend right now 🙂

On the positive side, I just read the weather forecast and we’re supposed to have a great stretch of sunny days coming up.

I need to soak em’ up while I can.  It is Cleveland, OH and soon enough it will be a winter wonderland!

Let’s Talk Supplements

Along with my coffee and breakfast (which was a mix of Shredded Wheat and Peanut Butter Puffins cereal with strawberries and soy milk), I also had my daily multivitamin.

Typically I take these specific brands that I talked about in a previous post.  I usually get them at the local Vitamin Shoppe or order online from them.

But when I ran out of multivitamins a couple of months ago, I figured I would try out a new brand.  I went with Trader Joe’s brand and I actually really like it.  It doesn’t have a full day of iron, which I also like.  Too much iron in a supplement does not agree with my stomach (which is common) and can ‘back me up’ so to speak. Not fun! 

Along with trying my best to eat a healthy diet full of variety and nutrients and exercising, I always try and remember to take my supplements.  I don’t know if they really do anything to be honest.  But I feel like it’s my “insurance” in a way.

Product Review

Recently I was asked to review some products by Sun Chlorella. I was familiar with the product since I did work in a supplement store for a few months while I was in between jobs, but I had never taken anything by this brand.

I was sent a package of Sun Eleuthero Tea along with some Sun Elethero Tablets.

From their Website:

Sun Eleuthero is an herb that can give your body a natural energy boost, decrease stress, and support your body’s fight against the ill-effects of modern living — without dangerous side effects. Eleuthero is an “adaptogen,” which is defined as “a non-toxic substance which reinforces the body’s ability to react to stress.” Eleuthero is considered one of nature’s most powerful, adaptogenic herbs.

When I worked in the supplement store last summer I learned a lot about vitamins and herbs and really found it all fascinating.  I had no idea so many herbs existed, eleuthero being one of them.

My Thoughts

I took the supplements daily (although I did forget a few times!) for the 20 days of tablets provided.  I also tried some of the tea.

I didn’t feel a difference in my energy, but that may be due to the fact that I already take a multivitamin, exercise regularly, eat well, and sleep enough.  I certainly didn’t feel anything extra, but I also don’t feel like I am lacking in energy to begin with (besides today of course!)

I liked the tea better than the tablets simply based on personal preference.  I love herbal teas.  Plus, the manufacturer recommends that you take 15 tablets a day.  Way too many for me. I’m a ‘one-a-day’ kinda gal.

I think the product is fine and the company seems reputable.  And although I would not personally buy this product in the future (mainly because supplements are expensive), I do think it can be useful for someone else who wants to use herbal products to supplement their diet.

Question:

What supplements do you use? Why?

Getting Back on the Healthy Track

When holiday weekends or vacations arrive sometimes my healthy habits can go out the window. For instance, when my girlfriends came over for a visit on Friday night I felt myself reverting back to the 21-year old me and stayed up late partying, bar hopping, and drinking way too much.  And when attending the 4th of July picnic at Andy’s parent’s house, I just about ate my weight in chips and salsa amongst other things.

And while I think this is completely healthy and fine for me to indulge often and let go of the reigns so to speak, I also feel it’s equally important to know when to get back on track and make healthier decisions.  What helps me from not totally giving up on my healthy lifestyle is getting right back on the healthy track after my vacation or holiday weekend.

Planning

For me, it all starts with planning.  For instance, on Monday night after the 4th of July picnic I made sure to pack my workout clothes to take to work the following day to get an exercise session in on my lunch break.


While at work, I completed this 30-minute interval treadmill run:

This workout was just what I needed to feel back on track with exercise.  Plus, with taking a couple of days off from working out on the weekend I felt that I had tons of energy.  The extra rest can certainly make a difference!

Along with packing my workout attire and getting right back on track with workouts, I also packed my lunch and snacks for the day and made sure to have a wholesome breakfast to start my day off on the right foot.

By taking these steps I seem to fall right back on track with my healthy lifestyle. Plus, I just feel so much better when I am exercising regularly and eating wholesome foods that it makes it easy to keep up with.

My Healthy Lifestyle

Everyone’s definition of a healthy lifestyle is different, but what I’ve come to learn is that for me I need to not feel like I have two different lives: A healthy one and a non-healthy one.   I have just one lifestyle and I consider it a healthy one.

For example, I don’t swear of ice cream or sweets during the week and eat myself into a coma come Saturday.   I’ve done this before (with the so-called cheat day) and it doesn’t work for me.  I still incorporate treats into my week no matter what day it is.  In fact, Andy and I enjoyed our beloved Dairy Queen hot fudge sundaes last night after dinner:

By “getting back on track” I mean that sometimes during a holiday or vacation I indulge a lot more than I typically do (like eating Taco Bell at midnight), but it’s OK! I find it all balances out if you have an easy going approach to food and exercise and you don’t totally abandon your exercise and nutrition habits after vacation. Trust in your self!

Question:

How do you get back on track after a vacation or holiday? Or do you stick to the same type of eating and exercise schedule?

Breaking the Pattern: Disordered Eating and Thinking

I clearly remember when I began having disordered thoughts and actions about food.  I was 17-years-old and was dealing with the tragic death of my best friend’s mother.  The death was shocking, and at 17, I didn’t know what to do, let alone how to be there for my friend.  If I was feeling this way, I couldn’t even imagine what she was feeling.  All I know is that during this time in my life, I felt myself shut down emotionally.

Control

Not long after the tragic news, I turned to food.  I had never done this before.  I had never given it a thought.  It just came to me.  I realized that food has always made me happy and therefore I can use it to my advantage now to feel better about life.  Food can be my friend, my confidant, and my way to control the world around me.  The fact is, I knew I couldn’t control everything in life, but I could control what I ate and how I ate.  It was my body and I was calling the shots.  I wanted control.

I started cutting back on what I ate and it didn’t take long for friends and family to realize something was up.  I was not the same person.  Luckily, my mom put me in counseling and for the first time I was able to understand how something tragic can make you turn to unhealthy patterns for comfort.  I stopped my disordered ways, and eventually, I felt like myself again.

The Pattern

Although I beat disordered thinking early on, it didn’t go away 100%. My past of disordered eating and thinking has come back to haunt me on a few occasions since then.  After about the third time of it rearing it’s ugly face again, I saw a pattern.

I realized that my negative self-talk and thinking would return when I was faced with extremely stressful situations.  High stress is my trigger. For instance, when my first boyfriend broke up with me while I was a freshman in college, I immediately wanted to go on a diet to feel better about myself.  And when I graduated college and had no clue what I was doing, I wanted my diet “friend” in my life.  Then there was just last year when I lived out of state and desperately wanted to be back in Ohio.  I started up a new diet plan to have my old pal back in my life.

With all of these instances, I was seeking control for what seemed like an out of control situation.  I wanted to call the shots in my life and food was how I could do it.

Breaking the Pattern

Most recently when I was in a minor car accident (that made me feel out of control and stressed), I felt the negative thoughts come creeping back.  I even started making a mental plan of how I can begin to restrict my intake and diet.  But before things got out of hand, I made a conscious decision to stop. 

I knew that going down this slippery slope of dieting was not fun.  Sure, in the beginning, I feel a great sense of control and accomplishment for being able to stick to a plan. But it doesn’t last long.  I begin to beat myself up when I slip up and go off plan.  My self esteem takes a dive and I feel even worse off than I did before.

Being Aware of the Problem

The first step in breaking the pattern of anything is to become aware that there actually is a problem.  So that’s exactly what I did.  I chose to become aware of what I was doing.

With this added awareness, I realized I was putting myself through my own self inflicted misery. I was choosing to deal with my emotions in a negative manor rather than actually feeling my emotions.

Stress Relief

Stress, I’ve come to realize, is a powerful thing.  If not dealt with properly, it can cause all sorts of mayhem in life.  Adequately dealing with my stress has been one of the ways I’ve effectively beaten my pattern of disordered thinking (which can lead me to disordered eating).

Exercise is one of my main stress relievers.  It’s essential for me to do.  Even just a walk outside allows me to decompress and let my mind rest and have my thoughts wonder.

Stress Relief

Nurturing my relationships with my family and friends is also another way I relieve stress. I love my family and friends so much and spending time with them, either in person or on the phone, automatically makes me feel better.  Even just anticipating a get together in the near future with friends and family makes me happy.   My relationships mean everything to me.

Nurture Relationships

Another way that I relieve stress is through reading.  I love to read and recently I can’t get enough of it.  I even find going to the bookstore to be stress relieving.  I love being around books and stories and I love getting lost in a story of characters.

Find Your Outlet

These are all things that relax me and help me be a better person who can adequately deal with the stress of life.  My point in sharing these examples is to say that everyone needs to find positive outlets in life to deal with stress. I truly believe it’s essential to living a healthy and happy life.

My Outlet

Self Love

Having self love is another factor that has allowed me to break the pattern of disordered thinking.  Love is a powerful thing and I’d go as far to say that it is the most powerful thing in life.  Loving yourself is absolutely crucial in life.   I’ve written posts on how to stop food obsession and really, they all boil down to having self love.

Loving yourself to me means being kind to your mind, body and soul.  Living out your dreams and passions in life, taking time out to relax and unwind, eating well and exercising, spending time with loved ones, and having fun are all ways to be kind to your mind, body and soul.

Take time out to enjoy nature

It’s OK to do things for yourself and for your own well being.  When I became more aware of the importance of self-love, my disordered thoughts have almost diminished.  I can say with confidence that I go many days without a negative thought about myself. This is a huge accomplishment coming from someone who would go weeks on a restricted diet and demand my body to become something it clearly isn’t.  Those days are long gone and I’m a much happier person because of it.

Not Seeking Perfection

Am I 100% happy and positive all of the time? No, I still get stressed and still have negative feelings. I’m not seeking perfection here. Heck, just a couple of months ago I was starting to fill myself with doubt about my weight. I thought that this doubt was coming from my weekly weigh-ins and being number obsessed.

After taking the scale away, I realized it wasn’t the scale I was angry at.  I was feeling negative towards myself because I thought I shouldn’t be at that number. Those pesky negative body thoughts were creeping back in and I was for whatever reason attaching my worth to a number.  When I made the decision to accept that this is where my body functions optimally and where I feel great health-wise, I realized my thoughts were silly.  It really is just a number and it’s where my body likes to be.   I chose to accept it and to not worry about it anymore.

With having more love and acceptance of myself I am much more aware of how to deal with the negativity that can arise in me. I am able to turn things around much quicker and see the greater picture in life rather than sweat the small stuff.

Making the Choice

The most important thing I’ve done in breaking the pattern is to make a conscious choice to do so. I’m the creator of my own happiness and I choose to live my life in a positive way, not wrapped up in my own negativity.  Making this choice has made my life much more enjoyable and full of wonder.

Make the Choice to be Happy

Source

Question:

How do you handle negative self-talk?

An Unspoken Topic

Did you know May is Mental Health Month?  I had no idea.  But May is also a bunch of other things such as Asparagus Month (something I won’t be celebrating, I’m not a fan of asparagus),  Egg Month (over easy please!), and a slew of other random celebrations.  But we’ll keep the discussion to mental health today.

Since May is Mental Health Month, I thought it would a great time to discuss the importance of becoming more aware and knowledgeable of mental illness and to recognize that there are millions of people who struggle with mental illness daily.

I often feel as though mental illness is such an unspoken topic because we don’t know enough about it or what exactly causes it.  When we don’t know much about something we tend to turn the other way and pretend it doesn’t exist, when really, it’s happening all around us.

Close To Home

Mental illness hits home for me because my older brother is mentally ill.  He was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder last year after years of my family and I trying to get him help.  Eventually the state had to step in and my brother was actually admitted to a psychiatric ward and evaluated.

Often times people with mental illness have no idea they are sick, which was my brother’s case.  To be honest, I still don’t know if he knows he’s ill because he lives in a different reality than most of us do.

Knowledge is Power

I didn’t give mental illness much thought until I was faced with it.  I didn’t see illness like Bipolar Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety Disorder as severe illnesses because I didn’t know much about them.  I figured we all had mood changes from time to time or we all get anxious in life. 

But the reality is that some people are truly debilitated by mental illness.  There are levels of severity, like any illness, and some people will struggle all of their lives managing it through therapy, medication, and support from others.  My brother is one of those people.  He is unable to live on his own and function without the help of my parents.  He can not work at the moment due to the severity of his illness.

Is it Real?

When people ask me how my brother is doing that knew him from high school or college, it’s really hard to explain.  It’s not easy saying, “my brother is losing his mind” or “He’s mentally ill”.

To be quite honest, it would be easier to explain if he had a physical illness, such as cancer, than to say he has a mental illness.  The stigma and lack of understanding is brutal. 

Some people simply do not believe in mental illness. There are even some in our own family who don’t believe he is really ill.   But they don’t see him day to day or even live in the same state, so how can they make such a statement? It’s easy to say something isn’t real when you don’t see it or experience it yourself. It’s called ignorance.

Is it real? Yes.  Seeing my brother live the way he does makes it certain in my mind that mental illness is real and it can be life altering.  One day my brother was “normal” and living a “normal” life.  He had friends, a girlfriend, and a college degree.

But slowly he started to lose who he was and he was  slipping away.  One day I had my brother and the next he was literally gone.  Sure, he’s here physically, but his personality is almost demolished and buried in his own mind.

His days were once filled with with the daily joys of life, such as family get togethers, dates with girls, and hopes for the future.  Instead, those days are filled with endless hours of staring at a blank TV screen, laughing to himself, and not speaking at all to the ones he loves.  He no longer travels and spends holidays with family.  He no longer talks about the future and he no longer experiences those every day joys that we all take for granted.

The one “normal” thing I see him do is run.  He runs and I pray to God that it gives him peace of mind, as I know his mind seems to be his worst enemy at the moment.

Reality

It’s a sad reality to know that I may never see my brother have a “real” job or get married and have children.  I don’t get to have weekly phone conversations with my own sibling or bring him over to meet Andy’s family (he avoids most social situations).  It’s a new reality that I’ve had to accept.  Things will never be “normal” in our family again.

In honor of Mental Health Month and the millions of people and family members who deal with it closely in their lives, let’s take some time to educate ourselves and become more compassionate about this unspoken topic. Let’s not turn our back to those in need.  Let’s not avoid this topic as if it doesn’t exist.

Walk to Help

I found this site and organization where you can participate in a walk to help raise money for mental illness.  Is there one in your area? I found one for Cleveland in September, which I will plan to do!

Empowerment

I’ve just recently begun talking about my brother’s condition openly and it has not been easy to do.  For a long time I avoided the reality that was around me.  When I go home to Cincinnati for the weekend I am hit head on with the life that my parents lead taking care of my brother.  I always leave sad and heartbroken seeing him the way he is and seeing my parents stress.  You can literally see the heart ache on their faces.  This was not how they dreamed their son’s life would be.

On the positive side, the more I talk about mental illness and learn about his disorder, the more empowered I become and the more determined I get to fight for this cause.  There is no cure for mental illness and we don’t know nearly as much as we should about it.  With speaking openly about it I at least hope to encourage others to learn about it themselves and to be more comfortable with the topic of mental illness.

Instead of worrying about your body and fitting into size 2 jeans today, take some time to think about your mental health.  Give thanks that you are mentally healthy and appreciate your mind and have some compassion towards others that struggle with mental illness.

My Number One Energy Pick Me Up

I was reading the new May issue of Real Simple magazine during my lunch the other day and the editor described what her day would consist of to give her just the right amount of energy to tackle all there is to do in 24 hours.

That got me thinking as to what I need to have just the right amount of energy for the day.

Here’s what I would love to have happen daily:

  • Get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep (9 or 10 hours would be great too!)
  • Read a few pages of an uplifting book to set the tone for positive thoughts throughout my day
  • Take my dogs on a leisurely walk and have them walk like the little angels I know they’re capable of being (opposed to stalking squirrels and picking up garbage)
  • Eat a wholesome breakfast while catching some of the Today Show or Regis and Kelly
  • Sip a hot mug of tea or coffee
  • Get in a 60-minute challenging workout while listening to my I-Pod and zoning out
  • Take a few minutes to meditate and relax my mind after the workout
  • Take a hot shower and relax in the sauna (we have one at work, but I have yet to set aside time to use it)
  • Eat nutritious snacks and meals throughout the work day
  • Enjoy a nice glass of wine with Andy while eating dinner and watching some of the shows we’ve recently become obsessed with on Showtime (like Shameless and United States of Tara!)
  • Play with the pups
  • Watch an episode of mindless, trashy reality TV (this strangely relaxes me!)
  • Read a good book before bed and snuggle up with Andy

What would your day look like?

Here are some tips from Real Simple Magazine on how to renew your energy:

  • Let the sun in and stretch when you wake up
  • Look at something you love, such as a photo of family
  • Scent your shower with products that contain citrus, eucalyptus or mint
  • Get moving
  • Eat a colorful breakfast
  • Take your vitamins
  • Take time to breathe deeply and relax during the day
  • Play for at least a few minutes
  • Take time for lunch instead of working through it
  • Find something to look forward to
  • Make tomorrow’s to-do list today
  • Have a snack
  • Commute with music
  • Sleep well
  • Take a hot bath

Do you do any of these?

I almost always sleep really well, I listen to music on my 35-minute commute to and from work, I try to look forward to things on my weekends or in the near future (like upcoming trips!), I exercise daily, and I try to eat colorful meals, like baked tofu stir-fry (which I need to make again soon!)

Colorful Meal

I could always include more of these  tips, such as using some scented products and looking at something I love when I wake up.  Great ideas from Real Simple this month!

My Number One Energy Pick Me Up

I have to say that my number one energy pick me up is playing with my dogs Boo and Sophia.  There is just something amazing about animals that lifts my spirit and my energy and just makes me feel better.  I love my pups!

Me and my pups!

Boo

Sophia

Even when Boo gets in one of his crazy, hyper moods…he makes my heart melt!  We love our crazy dogs!

Gimme that Hat!

Good thing we have a back yard so they can expend what seems to be their endless amounts of energy.

Endless Energy!

Seriously, Boo or Sophia can be in a dead sleep and if I squeak a toy, they’ll come running out ready to play.  Don’t you wish we had energy like dogs?! Now that would be all day energy for sure! No need for coffee or scented shower products 😉

Giveaway Reminder

Don’t forget to enter the Larabar Giveaway! I’ll pick a winner sometime tomorrow!

Have a great weekend everyone!  Tonight is Pizza Friday, which means I’ll be enjoying some deliciousness and relaxing with a nice glass of wine or a Skinny Girl Margarita (Which I love even more each time I drink it!)

Question:

What is your number one tip to increase your energy for the day?

Wake Up Call: Overtrained!

Thank you all for wishing me well from being sick! 🙂 I’m still not 100% better, but definitely on my way.

I’m finally back at work today after having to take a couple of days off (plus the whole weekend).  I literally sat on the couch for 4 days straight! It was beginning to get a bit maddening, but I knew that I needed it.  I also didn’t have the energy to do much else anyway.

I had a sore throat, bad cough, chest congestion, and just overall achy. I also had no appetite, and still don’t have much of one.  I think that is one of the worst things about being sick! I hate not enjoying my food!

The only things that sounded somewhat appetizing were toast and butter, Kraft macaroni and cheese, and soup.  So that’s what I ate!

Kraft

Overtrained

I have to come clean. I think something that contributed to my sickness was over training. I was doing too much activity and way too much cardio. Sure, I might have gotten sick anyways, but I think that it played a role.

Tired

At work we are doing a “100 Miles Challenge” where you have a certain amount of time to log 100 miles.  You can run, walk, bike, swim, or use cardio equipment.  Basically anything that can be tracked by miles.  I thought I’d participate in the challenge and upped my cardio on my elliptical to get some extra miles each day.

Sounds innocent enough, but I added that on top of teaching cardio classes each day.  Some days I was working out three times. That’s too much and just not needed.

I guess even I get caught up in thinking that my body can handle it and that I need to be pushed more. I think that just because I’ve been working out consistently for nearly a decade that my body can handle the extra load.  But I’m not a super human and my body falls trap to over training.

I began to feel sick last week on Tuesday, but decided to workout anyways.  I still felt sick on Wednesday and Thursday but again, I worked out. Then Friday came and I felt like crap.  I could barely get out of bed.  Sometimes people say it’s OK to workout if your symptoms are ‘above the neck’, which mine were.  But that isn’t always true.

Perhaps if I truly listened to my body and how I was feeling and took days off earlier I would have recovered sooner.  And maybe I wouldn’t have.  But I know that getting sick this past week has caused me to reevaluate my workout schedule and cut back on the extra cardio.  I don’t need it.  I get more than enough as it is.

Wake Up Call

Sometimes when we don’t listen to ourselves, we get sick or we get hurt or injured.  It’s a way to make us “wake up” and pay attention.  I think I had plenty of chances to listen, but I chose not too.  And then I was forced to listen by not being able to get off the couch.  It’s life’s wake up call I guess!

Pay Attention!

And sometimes a wake up call is what we need! No more extra cardio for this girl. More is NOT always better and it certainly wasn’t in my case!

For more information see ACE’s website for the Top 10 Signs you’re Overtraining.

Question:

Have you had any health or exercise wake up calls before?