So today I am going to talk about the Immune System! What on earth does it have to do with exercise though?
Well, as it turns out, a whole lot. The immune system likes to sit at a sort of baseline level. As we move through our days and weeks and are exposed to different things it fights to maintain it's steady balance to remain at your personal baseline.
When you add in exercise into your day you actually DEPRESS the immune system.
*Wait. What???? Why is this stuff being pushed on us all over the place if it depresses my immune system?!*
Don't despair!!!! When we exercise regularly we actually BOOST the baseline of our immune system!!! The trick is to keep it consistent. Working out every other day may be a good sweet spot for you to keep your immune system steady and working on beefing itself up. Similar to cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength training. Consistency is key.
Below is a super simplified, non-scientifically numbered graph. It's meant to give a simplified big picture so you can see what I'm talking about visually.
-Follow the Medium orange line at the bottom to see what happens when you work out once in a while. You drop deep below your baseline and it takes a long time for the immune system to pick back up again.
-Follow the dark orange line to see what baseline is like when you don't exercise and just maintain a similar day to day without any notable exertion.
-Follow the lighter line that starts above baseline to see how your immune system re-regulates to stay above the "normal" or previous baseline. This is where you want to be. Bounce back is faster and you keep your immune system stronger than your non-exercise baseline every day!
Here is a cool article with some more fun images for you.
If you'd like to read a nice review of literature looking at the body's immune response to exercise this one may be of interest to you. They also get into the question of exercise intensity and the immune response. Their findings seem to suggest that high intensity exercise is very beneficial and quite protective!
Moral of the story? Make exercise a regular and consistent part of your lifestyle.
Consistency. There is a word capable of striking fear into even the bravest of people! Or is that just me..?
Well, assuming I’m not alone, let’s just go ahead and validate those feelings. The thought of being consistent in something day in and day out feels really daunting sometimes. I hear you, I’m with you, I completely understand, and I want to run away too.
So, what can we do? Well, first let’s reflect on things we’ve done in the past and observe our actions, reactions, and feelings *WITHOUT JUDGEMENT*. I know that last bit is really really hard but if you allow yourself for observe with our judgement there is no end to the wonderful possibilities and changes coming your way. This, I promise you.
Next up, identify some behaviors you already are consistent in!!! “Wait, what? You think I’m already a consistent person?” Well, yes. Yes, I do.
1- Do you brush your teeth and hair every day?
2- Do you get dressed every day? (unless you have a newborn, then move along to the next one... seriously no need to liver here.)
3- Do you eat when you are hungry/at meal times each day?
4- Do you greet people when you see them in the morning, at work, in the checkout line? (Side note, if you don’t, no worries but I highly recommend you do. It has an uncanny ability to brighten everyone’s day!)
Ok, you get the point right? There are plenty of things we do every day and I probably missed some of the most obvious ones here. But you can add them to the comments!!!
So, now we have reflected, observed, and had the “Ohhhhh, that’s true.... I am a consistent human...” moment. Where can we expand and grow and add in more healthy things consistently?
Here are some pointers and ideas:
-Baby steps. Yup, babies learn a little at a time and they keep at the tiniest things until they master them. (They also take breaks when they are tired, just saying, we can learn a lot from babies...)
-Pick one thing for today or this week that you want to focus on. Maybe you have a list of 50, but for today, pick one.
-Work on one maybe two things a week, with gentle and attainable goals. Then each week reflect back on how you did, how you feel, and what you think might serve you best going into the next week.
-Find some accountability. Maybe you can hold yourself accountable. Maybe you journal to aid in that effort. Maybe you ask a friend to check in with you or start a buddy system. Maybe none of that works for you and you decide to hire a health coach/personal trainer.
-Whatever you decide, make sure it feels right for you!
I cannot say it enough, rest, is important. Rest is where the magic really happens. Rest is where our body does the work. Rest is our regulator, our memory, maker, and our mood modulator. Rest is where we grow and rest is not optional.
When we are talking about rest in relation to exercise there are a few things that may or may not pop up in your mind. For one thing we rest between intervals, sets, exercises. This allows us to catch our breath, our blood to flow without quite so much constriction, our waste to be removed from the working muscles, etc.
Then there are our rest days. These are the days when we take a load off and hang out. The day we don't go for our morning run or meet our bestie for HOT HIIT (Yes, that is a thing, as if High Intensity Intervals weren't enough already, now you can do them in the comfort of a hot studio. Needless to say I'm very interested to try it!). Rest days are in place to allow your body and mind to heal. Heal? Yes, heal. Because when we workout we are creating tiny little microfractures and micro-tears to our bone and muscle. No, there's no need to be alarmed, it's just the way the system works and when we give our bodies proper fuel and rest it heals even stronger than it was before. It's really pretty cool!
Rest, specifically sleep, is also incredibly important. When we sleep our bodies are literally put on the charger and all the ins and outs of our every system are restocked and restored. Trying to lose weight? Well, you had better get your sleep because that's the time when the hormone Leptin is produced and Leptin my friends is responsible for regulating hunger and therefore, how much we eat. I don't know about you but when I am over tired I could eat a house and Leptin isn't alone, there are a whole bunch of other proteins and hormones that all work together to manage how our bodies respond to food, exercise, etc. If you'd like to read a brainy article about Leptin: here you go!
Now, we have an honorable mention, mood. When we are not well rested we are more likely to be a bit more moody than usual. This can throw off our desire to stick to our plans, be pleasant to our fellow exercisers, and cause fights in the family. I've personally sabotaged more than a few workout sessions with my sleep deprived bad mood picking fights with my husband. So, don't skip rest days and don't skip sleep! Currently I'm reading about some really interesting findings on how lack of sleep makes us more susceptible to certain disease states and it's no joke!
How can we help you rest today? Well, here are a few of my go-tos:
-Diffuse Lavender, Serenity, or Petitgrain Essential Oils
-Eat a well balanced diet during the day with lots of fresh water
-Exercise! Of course ;-)
-Meditation, Prayer, Sacred Quiet Time. Here's a nice piece on WHY Meditation works.
-Want some ideas as to what to do on your rest days to help prepare you for your next workout? Here are 9, but I bet you can come up with some pretty fantastic ones of your own, do share in the comments!
So, there are 4 different types of exercise and you can read about them here. They include Stretching, Strength Training, Aerobics, and Balance. They are all equally important and Harvard can tell you all about why, but what I want to talk to you about today is finding what works best for YOU.
Some people LOVE running while others LOATH it and often the thought is that we SHOULD like something because we believe it is good for us; but that doesn't really help so much with actually getting on the treadmill...
So, let's take a moment and reflect on activities that we DO like, maybe things we have done in the past as kids or something we saw in the park and it sparked a bit of curiosity. Next let's take the judgement out of it. There is a lot of pressure to do what someone (or an inner voice) tells us to do and we need to take the time to allow ourselves to observe outside of any judgement that may be passing through. If it does pop up, "oh come on, that's ridiculous, there's no way you can do that," just recognize it for what it is and allow it to move on along.
Next, let's at the same time, be open to all the possibilities. For instance, I seriously disliked Yoga for YEARS, that is until I got real darn sick with Lyme. Now, my case was no walk in the park and I'm still working on rebuilding my immune system and while I can exercise quite a bit now, running and biking are still out. Last winter I was still feeling a bit under the weather but not so much that I felt I could just forgo all exercise so I dipped my toe into Yoga again. It has been life changing. My body is so much stronger and my mind is really feeling the perks as well. Something that I once avoided has become my hands down go to.
Now that we are allowing ourselves to dream a bit, removing the judgement (yes, yes you can start practicing the circus arts and no, people are not going to think you're crazy, trust me.), and being open to things even if you think you might not like them; let's look at some choices!
You have Choices in Movement:
*Personal Training (make it what you love!)
*Gardening, yes, I said gardening, do it right and it absolutely counts
*Online Classes of all kinds (there's nothing like working out in the comfort of your own home)
When you are trying to decide how best to become active, be gentle with yourself, be kind, release judgement, and go slow. It's all a process and it can be an enjoyable one if you let it!
Keep me posted! What exercise styles or classes have you tried? Do you think you've found something you love?!
Stay Safe, Stay Warm, Stay Well!
Winter time is here again and it mother nature has come at many of us fast and hard! Maybe she's making up for lost time from this unseasonably warm autumn...?
So, what are some things you can do to stay healthy this winter?
One Keep the relative humidity at a comfortable and therapeutic level. Somewhere around 40% is generally pretty good. You can add humidity to your air by using humidifiers, diffusers, a kettle on your wood burning stove, etc. Personally, I like to use my diffusers because I can also add my favorite oils. OnGuard to clean the air and keep sickness at bay, Citrus Bliss to lighten the mood, Siberian Fir or Breathe to promote feelings of ease and clear airways.
Two Keep moving! Yes, I said it again. Because I really do mean it! Did you know that your immune system gets built up just like your strength and endurance does? Have you ever noticed that just working out once a week or a few times a month leaves you sore for a few days but not a whole lot stronger? Well, that's where consistency comes in and it is just as important for your immune system. Just like soreness creeps into your muscles after a workout and brings you down a bit, your immune system becomes depressed after a bout of exercise leaving you a little bit vulnerable. BUT when you exercise consistently, your body starts to build your immunity as a result. Creating new immune cells to fight off infections and keep you healthier than you would be if you were more sporadic about your exercise. So, move your body and uplevel your immune system by keeping it consistent.
Three Eat what's good for you! For me I like to go the route of lots of fruits/veggies, followed by quality proteins and healthy carbs as a nice treat. To boost the effectiveness of a full belly I use my favorite supplements, Life Long Vitality pack from doTERRA along with their probiotics and food enzymes. I've tried a whole bunch of brands and these are my favorite. No matter what your particular diet consists of, try to keep the sugar to a minimum. It can create mood swings, lead to excess weight gain, and if you have a bacterial infection (like chronic lyme as I do...) those nasty spirochetes LOVE to feed on sugar and let me tell you, that's no fun.
Four SLEEP!!!! Yes, glorious sleep. Sleep is important for SO many reasons. It's when our memories are written for safe keeping, our hormones are regulated (trying to lose weight? Sleep can help with that!), and we finally have time to relax, If I'm having (or my kids are) a particularly amped up evening I'll often put some Lavender, Petitgrain or SERENITY in the diffuser and watch magic happen. If I want a little extra oomph for myself I'll take a Serenity softgel and enjoy a good night's sleep.
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Welcome to Day 1!
Ok, so we all know that there is A LOT that surrounds us creating "health" right? We all know that just as the foot bone is connected to the leg bone; that the energy level is connected to our nourishment and all of that is connected to our emotions right? Don't we? Well, maybe I'm being overly simplistic here but what we put in on, around and what we do with our bodies is completely related to how we feel physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. It just is.
So, that all being said, welcome to 15 days, 15 topics and if you watch my videos on YouTube they will take you about 15 minutes. Little bite sized pieces of my research and anecdotal insights to keep you warm in this blasted cold weather!
When you are watching these videos or reading my blog posts I invite you to keep an open mind and stick to what you are comfortable with while maybe taking the leap and researching some of the things that you might find a bit strange or scary to take on at first. We all have our own personal limitations and nothing is one size fits all, especially when it comes to keeping our bodies' and our minds' tip top shape! Some of us may long for earthy scents of Siberian Fir and Cypress to lift our moods, while others may crave the sweet scents of Ylang Ylang and Jasmine. Some of us use Yoga to move our bodies, keep our muscles toned, and joints lubricated while others prefer Zumba!
Ask questions, set goals, make small changes for the better and let me know what you think!
Want to learn about something I haven't mentioned yet? Squeaky wheel gets the grease! Want to join my facebook group for more community interaction?
Chocolate Black Bean Pancakes
Ok. So I recently joined the dōTERRA team and its one of the best decisions I've ever made. Seriously. Not only are their essential oils absolutely amazing but they also have a terrific blog for DIY and recipes!!! That is how this morning's breakfast was born.
A few weeks ago I hosted and Essential Oils 101 class. To make things even more awesome I selected a few recipes from the dōTERRA blog to have tastings of what it's like to cook with essential oils. I chose seltzer with wild orange EO, garlic hummus with lemon EO, and peppermint EO and black bean brownies. Take my word for it. It was all awesome.
This morning I tweaked the brownie recipe and make decisions pancakes topped with our own maple syrup, chia seeds, and strawberries. If I could find my Wild Orange EO, believe me, I'd have put that in too!
1 can Organic Black Beans, drained
1/2 cup Organic Cocoa Powder, or more if you like
1-2 Ripe Bananas (I love to use bananas to ass a little sweet to my batter, this way I can skip the sugar.)
1/4 t. Pink Himalayan Salt
3 Organic/Pastured Eggs
1/2 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Vanilla Extract
1/4c-1/2c Coconut Oil
Blend all ingredients in a blender and pour!
-Soak chia seeds in warm water 10min or so
-Add a table spoon or two maple syrup to the soaked chia seeds
-Chop or blend strawberries to the consistency you enjoy and add to the bowl
-Mix it all up and spoon it onto your stack of amazing fluffy chocolate pancakes.
It's officially a new year and once again health-mindedness is on the rise! It's a wonderful thing. Resolutions are in full swing and good intentions are starting anew. Now, the question is, how to set about accomplishing your goals? Right? After all, words and intentions are just that and goals cannot be achieved without action.
To start, learn a little bit more about yourself. What are you likes? Dislikes? What are your needs? What do you hope to gain when you reach your goal? And perhaps, most importantly what is your why? Your deepest "why," the most important reason- for you- that you hope to accomplish your goal.
These are all questions I ask my clients, they help me create a plan of action that suits the individual. They will help you to create a plan that works best for you too. But first you need to learn about yourself. Ask the questions above and then ask yourself what kind of help you might want or need. Maybe includes health and fitness professionals, therapists (physical or emotional), nutritionists, etc etc. Maybe all you need is you, and a good tracking app. But first ask the questions and be open and kind with yourself when your find your answers.
Conceptually weight loss is "simple" it's plain old math. You need to consume LESS calories than you use each day. In real life, weight loss proves to be very difficult for a lot of people and there are some definite twists to the process. So, here are a couple of questions I get and their answers:
Q: If I eat well for breakfast and lunch, do my 60 min of exercise but let loose for dinner will I still lose weight?
A: Maybe, but maybe not. I'm not saying you have to be perfect but you need to create a healthy calorie deficit. If your total consumed calories for the day are under your calorie max with your individualized plan then, yes you will. If letting loose on dinner means you go OVER your maximum desired calories then you will maintain or gain weight.
Q: But what about the exercise I mentioned?
A: If your calories for the day are calculated WITHOUT exercise then you MIGHT still have a caloric deficit. But you could also break even or go over. If your calorie count for the day does include your exercise, it's likely you've gone over your goal and could gain weight even though you are trying to do the right thing by exercising (and kudos for that! You are developing a healthy habit, keep it up!).
Ex. You burn 2,000cal/day + 500cal of exercise = 2,500cal burned
You eat 500cal Breakfast + 500cal Lunch + 500cal snacks +1000cal Dinner = 2,500cal ===> you break even.
Q: How do I know how many calories I need to eat a day?
A: To get exact as possible you would need a Basal Metabolic Rate test or to get your BMR. You can get the test done at SOME universities, doctors offices, hospitals or at institutions that offer VO2 max tests for athletes. (If you're interested contact me and I'll help you find one near you.)
For most people, though, a more general approach is to go to a site like this one, plug in your information and get a pretty decent idea of how many calories you should take in each day. What's cool about this calculator is that you can change it according to your daily activity. What's annoying about it is that there's no app and you can't log it.
Now for the kicker:
Q: I don't eat very much and I often skip meals, why am I still gaining weight?
A: Your body NEEDS a certain amount of calories per day to function. Within those calories it needs a blend of nutrients to allow your body's systems to do their jobs. So, if you are not taking in ENOUGH food your body holds on to the fat and maybe even brings more into storage to help you gain fat in an effort to avoid starving. Think of it like a panic reflex of your body; your body notices it's not getting enough of what it needs so when it does get something it sticks it into storage just in case it doesn't get the nutrients it needs in a timely manner.
Need help deciphering what is going on with your body? Contact me for a free 10-15 min consult and I can point you in the direction that will get you on your way to your goals.
Starting a training regimen can be quite overwhelming. I often get the question of, "how do you to it?" Which translates to, "how do *I* do it?" My first response is just about always, "baby steps".
The hardest thing about your training is most likely going to be motivating yourself to put your sweat-friendly clothes and shoes on; coupled with making it out the door or onto your treadmill. After that it gets much easier, I promise. Just be sure to take it slow....
Once you get in gear it's time to start getting active! If you are a go getter you might even need a friend or trainer to curb your enthusiasm, if your happy to go slow then you might need someone to coax you into pushing a little harder. Either way, it can be helpful to find a trainer/friend/family member to help motivate you; quick texts, phone calls, or maybe they'd even join you!
When you get started with your training program, whatever it is, you have to start from where you are. Not where you were in high school or 6 months ago, but from where you are NOW. If you have been sitting at a desk for the last 6 months and the most activity you've done is walking the grocery store then a good place for you to start may be something like walking for 20min a day most days of the week. If you are an avid walker already then you can push yourself to walk longer, faster *OR* start intermittent jogging.
Notice the *OR*, trust me, it's important. Too much too soon can lead to over-soreness, injury, frustration and feeling too overwhelmed to keep going with your plan.
So, if you'd like to get started, get out your clothes and put your shoes by the door, or the chair you sit in to get ready. When you find the day you are all suited up pick a comfortable distance or set the timer for an out and back 10-15min each way. Stretch gently, sleep, eat, repeat 3-5 times a week!
I am an Exercise Physiologist and mother of two lovely ladies. I love teaching my community about health and wellness and I love helping likeminded people implement natural solutions into their everyday lives.