Monday, October 16, 2017

Getting good sleep helps with weight loss

Sad but true and backed up by a U.S. study looking at sleep, metabolism and eating habits of men and women-Researchers at the University of Colorado found that when subjects came up short on sleep, they experienced almost immediate weight gain. As reported by the The New York Times reports, the study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found fast weight gain among the sleep-deprived regardless of gender.
       In the abstract, researchers note, "Our findings suggest that increased food intake during insufficient sleep is a physiological adaptation to provide energy needed to sustain additional wakefulness; yet when food is easily accessible, intake surpasses that needed." Wright suggested part of those extra pounds was a product of behavioral changes. “We found that when people weren’t getting enough sleep they overate carbohydrates,”. He added that  part of the change was behavioral. Staying up late and skimping on sleep led to not only more eating, but a shift in the type of foods a person consumed.
       Night owls managed to consume 6 per cent more calories. But once they started sleeping more, they began eating more healthfully, consuming fewer carbohydrates and fats.
       I think a lot of it can be caused when we are confused by our body signals. We are sleepy or cranky or worn out so we reach for a comfort food for a quick dose of energy. Later (feeling low energy from lack of sleep and nutritionless carbohydrates) we skip the gym and pick up takeout for dinner-- no time to cook.
       Additional problems are explained by Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Arizona, “It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly.” 
       The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. “Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin,” Breus says. “Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.” More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain. “You are eating more, plus your metabolism is slower when you are sleep-deprived,” Breus says.

Ackk so what does all of this news have to do with our challenge for this week?

For every day you do at least 3 things to contribute to getting a good night’s sleep you can claim your 5 points from the Weekly Challenge. (They can be the same 3 things each day- find what works for you) Ideas would include:

1. Clean your bedroom. Fresh linens, a beautifully made bed, a tidy end table, a cleared off dresser top, adorned with a favorite photo or fresh flowers- All of these help your bedroom to be a lovely and peaceful place that invites relaxation that contributes to sleep. Your bedroom should be a relaxing sanctuary. Every day that you take some steps toward this goal you can claim the bonus points.

2. Cut out the Caffeine- Caffeine (found in tea, coffee, sodas and some over the counter medications) can stay in your system as long as 14 hours, increases the number of times you awaken at night and decreases the total amount of sleep time. This may subsequently affect daytime anxiety and performance. Cut out the caffeine for bonus points.

3. Avoid working, eating, and discussing emotional issues in bed (I have a rule for my hubby that nothing stressful can be spoken of after 9:00 pm) The bed should be used for sleep and sex only. If not, we can associate the bed with other activities and it often becomes difficult to fall asleep.

4. Minimize noise, light, and temperature extremes during sleep with ear plugs, window blinds, or an electric blanket or air conditioner. Even the slightest nighttime noises or luminescent lights can disrupt the quality of your sleep. I can’t tell you how getting blackout curtains and shutters have increased the time I am able to stay asleep. I even have electrical tape over the small lights on my bedside modem.

5. Try not to drink fluids after 8 p.m. This may reduce awakenings due to a need to urinate.

6. Avoid naps, but if you do nap, make it no more than about 25 minutes. If you have problems falling asleep, then no naps for you.

7. Do not expose yourself to bright light if you do need to get up at night. Use a small night-light instead. I bought a motion activated night-light (on amazon) that turns on if I do need to walk in the bathroom at night and it is much calmer and more subtle than switching on the full overhead lights.

8. Avoid the light of televisions and computers late at night. My son has been using a program that dims the light emitted from his computer in the evening hours so as not to interfere with sleep. It’s a free program available at   Also your i-pad can be read with white letters on black instead of black on white (to switch it go to preferences then general then accessibility then choose white on black)

9. Consider some natural help aids. Certain herbal teas can help you relax and fall asleep. Chamomile is a popular tea that slows the nervous system and promotes relaxation. A new tea I’ve discovered is Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime - yum.  Other liquids, such as a small glass of warm milk, may also help. Melatonin (my favorite is Source Naturals Melatonin 1 mg. peppermint flavored sublingual also available from amazon helps many people sleep (though it can cause vivid and sometimes scary dreams). Essential oils can also have great power to aid your sleep. I love Lavender on my pillowcase, Doterra’s Serenity rubbed on the back of my neck and a drop of Clary Sage (Also Doterra) on my tongue. ZZZZZZZZZZ!! As always check with your health professional before trying natural remedies.

10. Take control of your worries. Most of us lead very stressful lives. Stress, surprises, and changes can take a toll on our sleep habits. I often find myself going over, over and over the same worries somehow thinking if I think about it long enough, an easy solution is going to somehow pop up. One way to decrease this endless cycle of worry before bed is to write down your concerns in a journal and close the book on the day. You might even want to note a specific time the following day that you will worry about those things you have listed.

10. If you must get up make it as quick and stress free as possible- I know some of you are young mothers with children that you still may need to get up with during the night. If you are getting up to change a diaper or give hugs and reassurance make sure the diaper and wipes and anything else needed are set out and ready the night before. If you are getting up to nurse or give a bottle likewise have things as ready as possible. Set your favorite cozy blanket in your favorite cozy chair. Have diapering items set out. If you want a cup of tea while nursing have the tea bag and cup set out and the tea pot full of water ready to switch on. Plan ahead to minimize any chores you must do during the night so that things are as quick, easy and relaxing as possible.

11. Create a bedtime ritual. It is calming to do the same things each night to signal your body it's time to wind down. This might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music — preferably with the lights dimmed. Relaxing activities can promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness. I have found great calming by listening to meditation CD’s and particularly like those guided by Stin Hansen. She shares several free ones at

12. Get comfortable. Sleeping clothes should be loose and comfortable and sheets should be fresh and clean. Your mattress and pillows should be those you find the coziest and most comfortable. Do you need any upgrades to sleeping clothes or bedding?

13. Avoid the snooze alarm. You might be surprised that I have NEVER hit snooze in my entire life. The reason? I set my alarm for the last possible moment I can rise and meet my daily obligations. Why would I want to get up any earlier than that? I surprised a friend recently when I shared that on the mornings I work at the temple I get up just 10 minutes before I walk out the door. The trick to being able to do that is my before bed preparation. Before I retire for the night my temple bag is packed and on the kitchen table with my purse, my breakfast bar and my water bottle. In my bathroom my dress, underclothing and shoes are selected and set out. I shower and wash and dry my hair right before bed. I get up, use the bathroom, quickly flat iron my hair and put on a couple of swipes of make up. Pull dress over my head, step into my shoes, grab my items from the table and I’m out the door. Now why would I set my alarm for 30 minutes before I leave and disturb my sleep in the morning by hitting snooze, then hitting snooze then hitting snooze until I REALLY need to get up. I set the alarm for when I REALLY need to get up.

So ladies work on sleeping longer and better this week to earn your daily bonus points!

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Fiber Filled Life

This week's challenge is a repeat from a previous round. I remember I decided to include it as a challenge because I had just listened to a podcast by Doctor Rhonda Patrick concerning the importance of fiber in our diets. I won’t require you to listen but I do heartily recommend it. It’s a great reminder of the importance of fiber not only for weight loss but also for providing what is needed to maintain a healthy gut microbiota which assists us to have a healthy immune system. The podcast can be found at  and her interview is with the Sondenbergs. 

Nutrition Diva (another of my favorite pod casters)  shares four reasons that including lots of fiber in your diet are of great benefit:
Reason #1 Fiber fills you up.
  If you're watching your weight, fiber is your best friend. High fiber foods fill you up with fewer calories because they are naturally bulky, which makes your stomach feel full. Fiber also slows down the digestive process so you can go longer without feeling hungry again. It even decreases the amount of fat and calories that are absorbed from the digestive tract! Trying to lose weight on a low-fiber diet is like parallel parking without power steering. Sure, it's possible, but why make things harder than they need to be?
Reason #2. Fiber prevents disease.
Fiber is your body's janitorial staff. It sweeps up digestive and cellular debris, mops up cholesterol, environmental toxins and surplus hormones, and takes out the trash. That's why a high-fiber diet reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and many kinds of cancer. If you've ever been in Manhattan during a garbage strike, you know that waste management is one municipal service you don't ever want to live without. Same with your body.
Reason #3. Life is better when you're regular
The only people who find the subject of irregularity funny are those who've never suffered from it. And the two of you can just keep your chuckles to yourself! The reason so many people suffer from occasional or chronic constipation is that most people don't eat anywhere near enough fiber. 'Nuff said.
Reason #4. Fiber hangs out with a cool crowd.
You can get more fiber by taking a fiber supplement every day. But you'll be much better off if you simply eat more foods that are naturally rich in fiber. That's because fiber tends to be found in foods that are also full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, lignans, phenols, and other good stuff. When you eat more high-fiber foods, your entire diet gets a nutritional upgrade.

See how much sexier fiber is than you ever imagined?

The USDA recommends that you get at least 25 grams of fiber a day. Nutrition Diva recommends 35-40 grams. The Sondenbergs would like you to eat 50-100. For this next week of our competition you will earn the 5 bonus points every day that you eat 25-35 grams (make sure and try to do more than you have been doing so far)  of fiber and by also including at least one serving this week of a fiber rich food you do not normally eat 
Some of the easiest ways to increase the fiber in your diet are to:
1. Include high fiber cereal in your diet.
2. Be sure to eat several servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
3. Eat more beans and legumes and choose whole grains over refined as often as possible.
4. Other foods high in fiber are avocados, sunflower seeds, tahini (sesame butter), dried figs, green peas, sun-dried tomatoes, and popcorn.

And here is my new and favorite way to get fiber 

I just love Trader Joe's JUST Coconut chunks.That is just what it is-delicious chunks of pure coconut with nothing added. Each bite size chunk has 1 gram of fiber and is 17 calories. I like to eat them plain right out of the bag but they would be yummy added to a smoothie as pictured. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Cleaning out the Pantry

I don’t know about you but I am AMAZED by friends that have a constant candy bowl in their home FULL of candy. Candy is one of my weaknesses and I can guarantee if I had ANY in my house it would be calling my name until ever morsel was gobbled up. So of course I don’t keep any candy in my home. I know that each of our weaknesses as far as food is concerned are different but one of the key steps to changing our eating habits is cleaning out the pantry.

(Many of the following ideas come from author Jenni Grover, MS RD LDN)

Tips for stocking a healthy pantry

Clean out the junk: It's all very well committing to eating less cookies or enjoying more fruits and vegetables, but unless you change what's in your cupboards, the chances are you'll find temptation catching up with you sooner or later. So take the time to do a thorough spring-cleaning of your pantry. Read food labels, and systematically clean out items that you know are your downfall. Get rid of products that are overly high in sodium, sugar or artificial colorings and preservatives or past their use-by date. Soda, crackers, candy, chips, cookies and high-sugar cereals are all likely items to purge from your pantry. That's not to say you can't leave a few treats — but be honest with yourself, and only allow those treats that you know you can maintain control over. 

Restock with healthier foods: At least as important as eliminating junk foods is restocking those cupboards with healthier alternatives. Whole grains, beans and other high-fiber foods, for example, are central to a healthy diet — and they are often easy go-to cupboard staples when the fridge is bare. If you know you like to snack (and who doesn't!), you can also explore healthier snack foods like nuts, whole-grain crackers, popcorn etc. You may even find that your taste buds enjoy the break from cookies and chips! And consider individually packaged snack foods if it helps with your portion control. Another option is to weigh and package snack foods yourself into pre-measured bags.

Reorganize and prioritize: We are creatures of habit and convenience. If cooking becomes too much of a hassle, we are that much more likely to order a pizza. So alongside buying healthy ingredients, make sure you also spend time to organize your cupboards so the good stuff is easy to get to.

Start a recipe file: This might seem unrelated to organizing your pantry, but it means little to stock your kitchen with healthy, whole foods if you don't have ideas on how to use them. You might add healthy recipes to an old-fashioned recipe box or notebook or begin a computer file or pinterest board to gather healthy meal ideas.

Organize equipment too: If your appliances that can help in healthy meal preparation are shoved way to the back of a cupboard gathering dust you will rarely think to use them. If you have a pressure cooker front and center it can help inspire you to cook chickpeas, black beans and other dried legumes without the need for presoaking. Similarly, if your juicer, food processor or slow cooker are crammed together in a chaotic mess, it makes the idea of preparing a fresh, home-cooked meal that much less appealing. So while you are organizing your pantry, take a moment to put your equipment in order too — sharpening your knives and replacing any broken items while you are at it.

For each day that you clean out one drawer or shelf in your kitchen or add 3 healthy recipes to your recipe box, computer file or pinboard you can claim the 5 daily bonus points.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Getting enough Protein

I hope that you have had a chance to study all of the data that MyFitnesspal generates as you enter what you have eaten each day. Did you know you can actually change what nutrients are tracked by going to the settings tab? It is good to change these out once in awhile so that you can monitor all of the various nutrients that are important to good health.

This week we are going to look more closely at one of these nutrient categories- PROTEIN. Protein is vital for building muscle and it can also help you lose weight. Current research shows that high-protein diets outshine low-protein diets when it comes to both building muscle and fat loss. No matter your age or background, meat-eater or vegetarian, protein is a must-have for healthy, sustainable weight loss.
Here's why protein is crucial when losing weight, and how you can make sure you're getting enough!

The Case For Protein
   1. A high-protein diet provides the building blocks (amino  acids) your body needs to maintain and build muscle and while I don’t imagine any of us are trying to build Popeye style muscles, muscle mass is crucial during fat loss! The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day. Muscle also enables you to engage in more physical activity, which in turn burns more calories.
   2. When you eat calories in the form of protein, your body burns through as much as 20-35 percent of those calories in the process of digestion. This is called the "thermic effect" of food (TEF). That is far more than the 5 percent of calories burned by fat or the 5-15 percent required for carbs.
3. Studies have also shown that a high-protein diet helps         suppress appetite and may be easier to stick with than other diets. You have probably noticed how quickly you feel hungry again after eating carbohydrates and how long you feel full after a high protein meal.
4. Protein may also help you with your weight-loss efforts by supporting healthy blood glucose levels, further helping you control hunger and feel clear-headed and functional, even when your calories might be relatively low

How much Protein do you need?
To get adequate protein you don't have to follow the stereotypical bodybuilder's diet—i.e., shakes and chicken breast three times a day. Getting adequate protein in your diet means you're consuming between 0.6-1.0 grams of protein for every pound you weigh. To put that another way, protein should make up about 25-45 percent of your daily caloric intake.

You should lean toward the higher end of that range if you're training on a regular basis, are fairly lean (less than 20% body fat for a female or 10 percent for a male), or are cutting calories more aggressively, such as 20 percent or more below your normal caloric intake.

You can shoot more toward the lower end of the range if you're not training regularly, have a higher body-fat percentage (more than 20% body fat for a female or 10% for a male), or are cutting calories more conservatively (less than 20 percent reduction from maintenance needs).

What Are The Best Sources Of Protein?
The best food sources of protein for fat loss are nutrient-rich and "complete." This means they contain all the essential amino acids in adequate amounts. It's also worth prioritizing proteins that are easily digested and fully absorbed in the body.
1 . Eggs
3 . Grass-fed beef, bison, and game meats
4 . Fish and seafood, especially wild salmon, wild cod, mackerel, sardines, shrimp, mussels, scallops, oysters, and tilapia
5 . Chicken and poultry
You may have heard that most plant-based protein sources aren't "complete," but that's not a difficult hurdle to overcome. They can still provide you with all of the necessary amino acids if you consume complementary, plant-based proteins. To maximize fat loss, choose plant-based sources that have the most protein per calorie and which provide the combination of amino acids your body needs.
 Good sources of plant protein include:
2 . Soy products like tempeh and tofu
3 . Seitan, textured vegetable protein (TVP), veggie burgers and dogs
4 . Beans, lentils, and peas
5 . Whole grains like bulgur, quinoa, and wheat
6 . Seeds like chia, hemp, pumpkin, squash, and sunflower

Spread your protein as evenly as you can throughout your meals to maintain continuous absorption and protein synthesis. And when possible, try to choose the most minimally processed protein sources available.

For this week I would like you to track your daily protein intake and for every day myfitnesspal tabulates that you have eaten enough protein you can claim your 5 daily bonus points.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Week #2 Self Care

For our challenge this week I wanted to share some information from an article entitled 6 Simple Self-Care Tips That Change My Life written by one of my favorite authors Rachel Macy Stafford. (I recommend all 3 of Rachel’s books:
Rachel begins by sharing the following story and then goes on to share some tips for self care. "Last spring, my body let me know something was wrong. I didn't feel like myself, and I wasn't acting like myself. In a moment of overwhelm, I actually smashed a casserole dish on my kitchen floor. After that I knew I needed to low down and make some change. I pledged to drink less soda, start running again, and log at least seven hours of sleep a night. And most importantly, I would finally get to the bottom of the bladder infection I had developed six months ago
The various antibiotics I’d tried hadn’t helped. So I made an appointment with a specialist—a highly skilled urologist, who discovered the underlying problem: I had a gargantuan-sized kidney stone.  She explained that left unattended, it could have been fatal. All I heard was: You could have lost your life.

Believe me when I say, I intend to be on this earth for a long, long time. I want to watch my kids grow up. I plan to write more books. So I was grateful for the reminder: If I want to stick around, I need to take care of myself the way I care for the people I love.”

Learn more
I’ve learned a lot in the last few months since that scare. These days, I think more clearly, handle frustration better, and sleep through the night—all thanks to minor tweaks in my perspective and daily habits. Below are six of the self-care tips that have truly worked wonders for me.

1. Acknowledge yourself

The first step: Remember that it isn’t selfish to look after yourself. It is critical for your happiness and well-being. You have limits, and they are crucial to help you honor your health. You have needs, and deserve affection, rest, sustenance, and grace—just like everyone else. And you have dreams, and are worthy of the time it takes to pursue what makes your heart come alive.
2. Gift yourself

When is the last time you did this? It’s important periodically to choose something that will add a bit of joy to your life to your life: A colorful water bottle to encourage proper hydration. A beautiful new journal to record your dreams. An extra hour of sleep, or exercise, or creative expression. If nothing else, give yourself a moment: We all need a moment of grace, forgiveness, or acceptance every now and then.

3. Restore yourself

Think back to what made you feel happy as a child. Was it the smell of a library book? Or listening to the crickets at night? Maybe it was strumming a guitar, or walking barefoot in the grass. Try to recreate those experiences of simple pleasure.

4. Speak up for yourself

Choose a trusted soul and voice the unspeakable: “I need help.” “I am afraid.” “I haven’t felt like myself in awhile.” There is something about voicing the burden that makes it lighter. Give the people close to you a chance to support you. (Note from Sandee (advice she needs to take as well as state)  “Be careful not to make assumptions that work against your own well being. Don’t assume everyone expects you to do more or to do it all by yourself. Don’t assume others are aware you need assistance, or acknowledgement or kind treatment but are denying you on purpose. Speak your needs to those that love you and clearly ask for what assistance or kindness you need.)

5. Take the pressure off yourself

What are you telling yourself about your parenting skills? What are you telling yourself about your appearance? What are you telling yourself about your long to-do list? Now try setting more realistic expectations. Lower the bar; let something go. Ban the word “should” from your vocabulary today. And when you lay down in bed tonight, ask yourself, “Did I show up?” If the answer is yes, that is enough. It’s more than enough.

6. Notice the good in yourself

Take a moment to recognize any tough obstacles you’ve overcome, or lessons you’ve learned—and think about how far you’ve come. Then try to see yourself through the eyes of those who love you. They don’t see imperfections, failings, and mistakes. They see love, never-failing love. Try to see it too.

So your challenge this week is to do something every day to administer self care and kindness. You can choose anything but some ideas:
1. Gift yourself something wonderful. Perhaps something to help you to better honor your own health. A pretty water bottle, a new pair of work out shorts or a pretty journal. Or ask your family’s cooperation to gift you an hour to work out, to sleep in, to play your instrument to do anything that renews and rejuvenates you. Another important self care gift you can give yourself is to make that doctor's appointment you have been putting off. Get a mammogram, a colonoscopy, a well women's check or a dental cleaning. (Note you can count this as your self care for the day if you just call and make the appointment) 
2. Gift yourself by doing something that brought you joy as a child. Go for a swim, go on a swing, listen to your favorite teenage music and dance like crazy. Whatever made you giggle as a kid do it now.
3. Speak up for yourself with those that care about you. My daughter is the queen of asking for compliments. Honestly I have hear her say to her cute hubby “Do I look cute in this?(He tells her she looks cute) “Really don’t you love how it fits me?”(He says yes it fits great) “Don’t you just love the color?” (He agrees it is his favorite color on her) etc. etc. etc. Especially if you feel like your co-workers or family don’t notice enough, help enough,, compliment enough. Kindly and with a sweet gentle tone ASK FOR IT!
4. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Someone told me once that everyone has their own “average”. I am a pretty good cook. But sometimes I am amazing and sometimes what I have made comes out awful. But I can give myself a break just by acknowledging that. Celebrate when my efforts in any area are above my average but when they are below my average be kind to myself as I would be to someone else when something doesn’t come out as well as they hope. Give yourself a break. You may need to do this OUT LOUD to and for yourself.
5. This kind of goes along with the one above but notice the good in yourself. It might help you to notice it as if you were someone that loves you looking for goodness and accomplishment in what you do or say.  Honestly-- either say it out loud or think it as if saying it. “That proposal I just turned it at work is really clearly written and well done.” “What I just cooked was delicious” “I am so good at showing up. I was the first one at work again today.” “The dog loves that I am so good at feeding him” It can be small things but honestly if you neglected to do them they would be big things. Applaud yourself; notice what you have done well. Give yourself some credit.

So that’s it ladies. For every day that you make an extra effort to do some type of self care you earn the 5 daily bonus points. And please do a different type of self care each day this week. This needs to become one of your life long healthy habits. This might work best for you if you plan your week out ahead of time and write what you are going to do for self care on your calendar! Good luck- you deserve it!

And just for fun ladies- google "Self care" and click on images-you will find some wonderful things there. You might want to choose something to print up and hang on your mirror!