The Health Benefits of Tea

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve no doubt seen lots of tea photos lately.  Yep, I’m on a bit of a tea kick since fighting a nasty cold for the past two weeks.

Tea is so comforting when you are sick!  It’s like a little cup of wellness 🙂  I also love all of the little “tea fortunes” I’m seeing on my teabags, too.  It’s like a fortune cookie (well, without the cookie) in every cup!

Feeling much better today (thank goodness!), so I wanted to share some of the Health Benefits of Tea.  Here’s what some studies have found about the potential health benefits of tea (the following if from WebMD):

Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
Oolong tea: In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol.  

What’s your favorite kind of tea?  Share under this post!

The Asian Superfood Series, Part Two

If you read my blog last week, then you know I started a series of posts about Asian superfoods – some with great healing benefits that we might not think about here in the US.  If you missed my first post, you can read it here.

This week, I’m going to give you the lowdown on four more Asian superfoods that are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and huge disease-healing and prevention powers.

First on the list is seaweed.  I know what you are thinking… it doesn’t sound very appetizing.  However, not all seaweed is created equal 🙂  There are edible types of seaweed used in soup stocks, Asian salads, and of course in sushi.  You might recognize the names nori, wakame, and kombu from Japanese menus.  One of my favorite things to order in a sushi restaurant is a wakame salad.  Honestly it didn’t look very edible the first time I tried it, but the flavors were delicious and kept me going back for more.  Nori is the type of seaweed that you’ll see wrapped around your sushi.  While likely an acquired taste for some, I find it provides a nice salty flavor.  A few months ago, I saw a toddler being pushed in a stroller eating what looked to me like dried seaweed.  I asked the mom, and that is exactly what it was.  I was shocked that a toddler would find that a suitable snack!  I easily found this snack on the shelves the next time I went to Trader Joe’s (who knew?!), and now I’m addicted.

Photo courtesy of Club Trader Joe's

It’s kind’ve like eating chips, but not as crunchy & without all of the fat & calories.  I definitely recommend giving it a try!  As for the benefits, seaweed is rich in iodine (good for the thyroid) and also contains vitamins A & E.  It also contains folate, which is necessary for repairing damaged DNA and forming healthy blood cells.

Next on the list is coriander.  I became very confused by the difference between coriander and cilantro while I was in Japan, so I had to do some research.  As it turns out, they are actually the same herb — however, when the leaves are used it is referred to as cilantro.  The seeds of the plant are called coriander.  Coriander is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C — two antioxidants that protect against age-related eye disease such as macular degeneration.  It also removes excess heavy metals from the body, such as mercury contained in the fish we are eating, other metals in our drinking water, and those we get from daily exposure to our environment.  Coriander is used in making curries, so if you are a curry fan then look no further!  I discovered something just this week that is a new favorite!  I am a huge fan of dark chocolate infused with spices.  I started out eating dark chocolate with cinnamon & chili peppers, and now I try it with any kind of spice.  This week, my local market had some new chocolate bars on offer.  I picked up this one.

It did NOT disappoint!  This is my new favorite after-dinner treat!!  Eating a square or two of dark chocolate every day is totally allowed.  Dark chocolate also has its share of antioxidants, so as long as you stick to a small portion it is good for you 🙂

Next on the list is almonds.  You might not think of almonds as an Asian superfood, but they are incorporated into Asian desserts more than I see here in the US.  Almonds are rich in vitamin E.  They are great for your skin and help lower HDL (bad cholesterol).  Almonds are also high in potassium, manganese, and riboflavin.  Raw unsalted almonds best, but when I eat them alone as a snack, I prefer them roasted.

Last on the list for today’s post is sesame seeds.  Sesame seeds are high in vitamin E like almonds, and keep your skin & heart healthy. Black sesame seeds are high in calcium.  These can be found in most Asian food markets, and are really good in marinades or sprinkled on top of plain rice.  Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds makes great dips and salad dressings.  Try this delicious recipe from Whole Living magazine that I have tried using tahini as a garnish for fruit salad.

Photo courtesy of Whole Living magazine

Stay tuned for next week, part 3 of 3 in the Asian Superfood series.  Don’t forget… if you missed last week, you can check it out here.

Leave me a comment below if you have any recipes or great snack ideas using these superfoods!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I was filming a video today that demonstrated exercises to release tension in the hands, wrists, and forearms, and I started to think about emotional stress and tension.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how difficult it can be to stand up for yourself when you are a people-pleaser by nature.  How is it that the fear and anxiety that comes from saying “no” to someone else can be greater than the stress and anxiety that we are placing on ourselves by saying “yes”?  I have wondered this for many years.

I decided to do some research on the “fight or flight” response.  While these days we aren’t typically running from wild animals who want to make us their dinner, emotional stressors such as being forced to work 60 – 80 hour weeks for fear of losing our jobs can illicit the same response — rapid heart beat, a surge of adrenaline, stress hormones pumping throughout our body.  All of the same things that would prepare us to fight or run away from a predator are engaged, and we lose the ability to thinking clearly and rationally during that time.

In most situations today, once our fight or flight response is activated, we can’t fight or run from these threatening situations.  We have to figure out how to regain control and deal with it.  In fact, there are so many of these modern day stressors – feeling overworked, missing a deadline, sitting in awful traffic every day – that our fight or flight response can stay triggered for days on end.  This leads to aggression (like road rage) and overreaction; every little thing feels like the LAST straw!
So what do we do?  How do we deal with this emotional stress?
I have to say, I absolutely learned this lesson the hard way.  As far as traffic is concerned … let’s just say I’m still working on that one. 🙂
One thing we can do is give ourselves a time-out.  Change your environment.  If possible, remove ourselves from the situation by going for a walk or stepping outside for a few moments until we feel calmer and our rational thinking returns.
Another option is to surround yourself with positive people, people who are grounded.  Discussing the situation with people in the same boat adds fuel to the fire and keeps your anxiety level high.  Try talking with someone you trust who is removed from the situation and can offer perspective.  Maybe you DO need to change jobs, so “no” to a new assignment that is going to keep you away from your family or go against your values.  A reality check from a positive supportive person can be just what you need.
When your nerve cells are not firing out of control, practice mindfulness.  Try techniques like taking deep, relaxing breaths or a short meditation.  Finding ways to promote relaxation are helpful, as you can cue them during stressful times.  You can read more about mindfulness in my post, “Multi-tasking vs. Mindfulness: The Science of Stress.”
How often do you feel your “fight or flight” response kick in?  Do you ever wonder if you should stay or go?  
I’m sure you have found other ways to deal with the anxiety-provoking feelings.  Tell me about it in the comments below — I want to hear from you!

Other posts you may like:

work-life-balance | how to have it

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Steps to Bring Wellness Into Your Life

 

5 Steps to Bring Wellness Into Your Life

Who couldn’t use a little more wellness in their lives?  It can be hard to prioritize self-care in our busy lives.

Here are five easy steps to start to bring wellness into your life:

  1.  When you wake up, give thanks!  Start off each day thinking of all of the wonderful things in your life.  Do your best think positive thoughts.  Positive thinking invites positivity into your life.  Try it, and see what happens.  It will change your whole day!
  2. Before you go to bed, write down the 5 best things that happened to you during the day.  If you make this part of your routine, you will find yourself looking for things to write about during the day.
  3. Discover your Inner Passion.  Did you used to dance but haven’t been on the dance floor in years?  Maybe its time to try a class?  Even you can only spend a few minutes a day doing what you feel passionate about, it can make a HUGE difference.
  4. Do 5 good deeds every day.  Doing nice things for other people is hugely rewarding.  It can be as simple as holding the door open for someone.  Any selfless, positive act can be included.
  5. Embrace a healthy, active lifestyle.  Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water every day.  Talk a walk with a friend or your spouse.  The more active you are, the more energy you will have.

 

Try these 5 steps, and you will invite wellness into your life.

 

“The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything but they make the most of everything.” – Sam Cawthorn

 

 

Prioritize Relationships That Matter Most

 

 

 

Finding true balance in life doesn’t just happen because you want it to. 

There’s a lot of work to do and time to be invested. Why should you do it?

 

Because you deserve to be happy!

 

In today’s post, I’m sharing information about Relationships that is addressed in more detail in my FREE Mini “Balance Inventory” Wellness Workbook

 

In our very busy lives, our Relationships are just one component where we need to have the right balance in order to be happy.  Not only do your friends, family, and loved ones deserve time with you, they deserve to spend time with a happy, healthy, peaceful you – with your BEST you.

As our lifestyles and our environments change, this *right* balance will also change.  For instance, if you are young and dedicated to growing your career, you may be willing to sacrifice going out with your friends in order to put your best foot forward professionally.  

If you have been working hard for years to be better financially prepared to start a family, you will likely re-evaluate your work schedule once you start your family.  

It is only natural to move through these stages, but it is important to periodically run through a list of questions to make sure that you actually know what your current priorities are!  Believe it or not, some people find themselves SO busy that they run on autopilot and years can pass by in what seems like the blink of an eye.

To make sure you are prioritizing the relationships that matter most to you at all times throughout your life, write down the answers to the following questions.

 

1)  What are the most important relationships in your life?  

 

2)  How much quality time are you spending doing what is most important to you?

 

3)  Is there any stress or strain going on with anyone or anything you listed in #1?

 

4)  Are you happy with your job or chosen career path?  What would you change?

 

5)  Do work demands overly interfere with your family and personal relationships?  

 

To read more about achieving balance and get more self-assessment questions related to your Body, your Mind, and your Environment, download my FREE Workbook here.

 

5 Sneaky Ways to Lose 10 Pounds Fast

 

Sometimes losing weight can feel like the most impossible task in the world, so I wanted to share these sneaky ways to lose 10 pounds QUICKLY, SAFELY, EASILY!!

1.  USE A SMALLER PLATE.  That’s it folks!  Just because its dinner time doesn’t mean that you need to use a dinner plate.  Try using a smaller plate to keep portion size in check.  Research shows that women who used larger sized dinner plates continued to eat long after they were hungry and even to a point of feeling overly full.  The American portion size is out of control compared to portions in other countries.  Do yourself a favor & start with a smaller plate.  You’ll be surprised!

2.  WHAT ARE YOU DRINKING?  If you eliminate soda from your diet, you will be shocked at how much weight you can lose.  Drinking diet soda is not going to help you lose weight, and some studies show that you may actually gain weight due to the effect that some artificial sweeteners have on your brain causing it to CRAVE other sweets.  When I eliminated diet soda from my diet, I lost 6-7 pounds in just a few weeks – and that happened without making any other modifications to my diet & exercise routine.  If you need caffeine, switch to iced tea with lemon (avoid artificial sweeteners).  Your best bet is to drink WATER, but it takes time to transition from drinking 10 Diet Cokes per day to drinking only water.  Set reasonable expectations, but STOP the sodas right away!

3.  EAT BREAKFAST.  It may seem like encouraging you to eat more rather than fewer meals works against you — it doesn’t!  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but choose wisely.  Rather than grabbing a bagel with cream cheese & a hot mocha, choose a breakfast with both fiber and protein.  My favorite breakfast is non-fat Greek yogurt with a few raspberries, natural granola, and a small serving to mixed nuts (like unsalted pistachios, almonds, and cashews) with a soy cappuccino.  This gives me plenty of protein and a healthy dose of fiber first thing in the morning.  Skipping breakfast causes you to make bad eating decisions for the rest of the day, and you could end up eating more food with little nutritional value.

4.  SHORTEN YOUR WORKOUTS.  You can burn more calories by doing short bursts of cardio throughout the day than by walking at your average pace on the treadmill for an hour.  Do you stop by Starbucks every day on your way in to work?  Instead of driving by on your way to the office, try starting off your day with a 15-20 minute walk to grab your morning coffee.  Ready for your second cardio burst?  Instead of sitting down gabbing with your colleagues for 30 minutes after you have finished eating lunch, grab one or two of them and take the talk outside!  A 20-minute mid-day walk will give you more energy in the afternoon than that extra cup of coffee you were thinking about.  Same thing in the evening — walk around your neighborhood after dinner or if you have a dog, try taking him out for a walk instead of just letting him out the back door.

5.  MEAL PLANNING.  Taking the time to plan healthy meals and snacks and make a grocery list can save you from eating a ton of extra fat & calories.  There are so many meal-planning websites out there, you don’t have to even come up with the ideas yourself!  Don’t forget to wash & cut fruits & veggies that you will use for snacks as soon as you get home from the store.  This way, they are super easy to throw into the blender for a healthy, tasty smoothie when you get hungry instead of going for that calorie-packed energy bar.

With these little tips, you can lose 10 pounds in no time without even realizing it.  If you slip up on your weight loss journey, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Give yourself the same kindness that you would offer to a friend, and just keep going.

I’d love to hear your comments if you enjoyed this post.  Have other sneaky ways to burn off 10 pounds with little to no effort?  Share those below too!

Controlling Stress May Be the Key to Fewer Age-Related Diseases

I’ve written about stress before, but I was compelled to write on this topic again after some of the interactions I’ve had this week.

Psychological stress and anxiety can’t be completely avoided, they are a part of life. Did you know that there is a 50% increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) for people who deal with chronic work stress? That’s a 50 percent greater chance than the average person has of developing CVD if you are stressed at work and don’t change your environment.

Stress can further increase the diseases associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Before running to the doctor for a prescription to make the symptoms disappear, it is important to identify your stressors. It may be work-related, family-related, or a combination of things. Stress is a reaction. The brain is involved in a person’s stress response (e.g., interprets what is threatening) and then regulates both how your body responds both physiologically and behaviorally.

Studies have found that the following can help decrease your body’s response to stress:

1) Exercise. Exercise increases the level of telomerase produced. Telomerase is an enzyme that protects loss of DNA from important end region of our chromosomes called telomeres. Think of a telomere like the protective piece at the end of a shoestring. Studies have found that elite athletes have very long telomeres.

2) Your Social Network. I’m not just taking about how many Facebook or Twitter followers you have! People with a strong partner relationship and close friendships have been found to be at lower risk for diseases associated with aging and to have less of a stress response to situations such as public speaking (which can evoke fear in many).

3) Better quality of sleep. The average person needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. People who got a better quality of sleep and woke up feeling rested have, on average, longer telomeres than those who suffered from poor quality sleep.

4) Nutrition. Individuals diagnosed with obesity and insulin resistance had shorter telomeres than others, whereas those who consumed a diet containing antioxidants and added supplements such as omega 3s had longer telomeres.

The lesson to take from this is that if we can embrace these preventive measures, we can increase our body’s resilience. As resilience increases, so does our ability to age well.

Comfort Food: Why Are You Seeking Comfort?

Millions of people use food as a way of seeking comfort from pain or hurt in their lives. Most are doing it without even realizing it.

Do you find yourself sitting at home, alone & bored watching TV and eating when you aren’t hungry? Do you suffer from insomnia and find yourself getting up during the night & cleaning out the pantry? They don’t call it comfort food for nothing!

In order to break through this unhealthy behavior, you have to dig deep and figure out what is really eating at you! It may be worry about something going on in your life or someone close to you. It may be an issue stemming from childhood that you never worked through and hoped to bury. You have to work your way through the pain in order to come out on the other side. This hurt and discomfort you are experiencing is good — it is showing you that you are due for a change.

You may have tried dieting in the past many times with no success. Don’t beat yourself up about past failures. You weren’t ready to make a change or you needed help! Sometimes the true difference between failure and success is getting the help you need and deserve!

I want to help you by giving you a FREE resource that you can use to finally make the change you’ve been longing for and end your feelings of hopelessness once and for all.

Visit my website and click to download our FREE Wellness Workbook here: goo.gl/qKo3j

Me and the Dalai Lama

One of the key elements to true health and happiness is an uncluttered mind. Do you ever notice that when someone tells you to breathe, you actually pause and take a full and deep inhale/exhale? This is how we should be breathing all of the time, though few of us actually do.

Most of us (including me!) engage in frequent stress-breathing that leads to tightness in our neck and shoulders. Add a few hours at the computer every day, and the result is pain! No wonder massage is nearly a 20 billion dollar/year industry!

The term meditation is used in many ways. For me, the word meditation used to bring to mind something spiritual or ritualistic. Don’t let the word itself scare you! It wasn’t until I spent a week at the famed Golden Door Spa in Escondido, California that I realized meditation can simply be about pausing for as little as sixty seconds to close your eyes and breathe.

Here are a few tips for beginners.

Start S-L-O-W-L-Y. Really, start with just one minute a day. You can be in line at the grocery store, sitting in your car in a parking lot… it doesn’t matter where you are. Sit, close your eyes, clear your mind as much as you can, and just take a few deep, slow breaths in and out. Try and focus on your chest expanding and contracting. You may want to add another minute the following day, find a quiet spot at home in the morning or just before bed. Do what is comfortable for you.

Stick with it. If you want to see a difference, consistency is key. Whether you feel like it or not, do it! Just think, it can be as little as one minute and you WILL see the health benefits from a relaxed mind. Sometimes, you can learn what is REALLY bothering you by sitting through a moment or two of uninterrupted time.

Don’t punish yourself. The goal of meditating is not to stop thinking altogether. It is to be aware and present with your thoughts. My trip to the Golden Door Spa was actually years ago, but I will never forget the wise words of a very wise woman at the Door, AnnHarriet Buck. While explaining how to meditate to a group of over-worked women, she shared a story about a conversation with the Dalai Lama. He shared that even HE had experienced his thoughts drifting from time to time while meditating. He said when this happened, he just laughed a little, forgave himself, and continued on. I’ll never forget AnnHarriet’s advice to us in the room. When she feels her mind wandering while meditating she simply smiles, forgives herself, and thinks, “me and the Dalai Lama.” Years later, I still remember this when I am in a yoga class and having trouble concentrating. I always have a private laugh with myself and keep going.

Good luck! I’d love to hear about your experience with yoga or meditation. Share them below this post in the Facebook comment box!