Haven't Changed Anything in Your Diet But You Feel Like You're Getting Fatter?

You are positive that you're not eating more food or “junkier” food but you're still gaining weight.

Is this possible?

Yes!  You are NOT crazy!

And here's why:

We both know that the whole “calories in, calories out” argument is an overly simplistic view of weight.

There's definitely more to the story than just what you're eating, right?

A lot of this comes right down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things like your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and even what you eat.

But, let's go beyond the “eat less and exercise more” advice and dive into some of the less obvious underlying reasons why you may be gaining weight even though you're eating the same.

Things like:

  • Aging
  • Hormones
  • Sleep
  • Stress

Aging

Funny things happen the older we get.  People commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, weight gain, as well as aches and pains.

Aging can result in hormonal changes for both men and women.  And these can contribute to loss of some lean muscle mass, as well as increases and changes in fat storage on our bodies.

The good thing is that, this is very common and not your fault one bit.

Hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a massive contributor to your weight gain.  There are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.

When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  And when your metabolism slows down you can gain weight.  Even though you're eating the same way you always have.

Pro Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your hormones tested.  Oh, and try the thyroid-friendly recipe that I created for you at the end of this post.

Sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate. 

And as we age it can become harder and harder to get a good night's sleep.

The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to help avoid weight gain.

It's true!  Lack of sleep is linked with weight gain.

Who ever thought you can sleep off your weight?

Pro Tip: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  The first place to start is by implementing a calming before bedtime routine.

Stress

It seems to be everywhere!  So many things that can cause stress responses in your body.

And you know that stress hormones are not going to help you sustain healthy habits or maintain a healthy weight, right?

While you can't necessarily change your stressors you can try to adjust your stress response to them.

Pro Tip:  Try meditation or yoga.  Or even mindful eating.  What about those new adult coloring books that are all the rage now?

Conclusion:

There are lots of factors that can affect your weight, even if you're eating the same way you always have.  Aging, hormones, stress, and sleep are all interconnected to each other and can all contribute to weight gain, even if you're eating the same way you always have.

Recipe (Thyroid-friendly iodine): Seaweed Sushi Bowl

Serves 2

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 avocado (thinly sliced)
  • ½ cucumber (diced)
  • ½ red pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1 green onion (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons dried seaweed (arame, wakame, or crumbled nori sheets)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ garlic clove
  • dash salt and pepper

Split the first seven ingredients into two bowls.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the sushi bowls.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip:  This is a great lunch to take on the go.  Keep dressing in a separate container so you can give it a shake before adding it onto the sushi bowl.

5 Reasons You Bloat More After Age 45

5 Reasons You Bloat More After Age 45

Yes, it's very possible that you are bloating more now that you're 45 or older.

Want to know one reason why?

Because our stomachs become less efficient at creating acid when we eat and that stomach acid is a critical step to proper digestion of foods.  Reduced stomach acid can have wide-ranging digestive effects, including the feeling of bloating.

And, while that may not be awesome you just know I have a bunch of great tips and a recipe that can help you out, right?

Menopausal Women: Try This Before Meds

Menopausal Women: Try This Before Meds

Have menopause symptoms?

I have seven solid ways you can easily improve your health and wellness right now.

The funny thing is you probably won't be surprised at most of them...but you'll probably be interested to know the health reasons why coloring books and blue blocker sunglasses are getting trendy!

Not to mention my amazing recipe to inspire you get more veggies into your day, even when you're out and about.  (Because you just knew that veggies would be one of those seven, right?)

The Active Souls Mission

It’s been about 18 months since Oasis became Active Souls.  I am happy with the decision; it brought more clarity about the mission of the business.  Oasis felt like someone else’s dream and didn’t clearly articulate what I had in mind for my business and the name wasn’t exciting to me.  As the leader, I wanted a name that identified what the business is and where we are going.

One of the first steps to changing the name was articulating the mission statement.  This task felt daunting.  I wanted it to clearly state what we are doing in the business.  I knew I wanted our mission to be inspirational, not only to the staff and me, but our members, guests, and the community.  I wanted it to be about more than fitness and Spa Services.  With help from a few close friends and colleagues, we finally came up with this mission:

At Active Souls we encourage the women of our community DREAM BIG and have the PHYSICAL, MENTAL, and EMOTIONAL energy to achieve their dreams.

Breaking it down, first and foremost it is about community.  We are happier when we know we have a support system that we can count on.  Active Souls is a place where you will find like-minded women on a similar path to yours.  Although we are different ages, body sizes, body shapes, education levels, and life stages, I feel we have more in common than we have differences.  It is our community that supports, encourages, and challenges us. 

The next part of he mission statement talks about DREAMS.  I am a proponent of goal setting and my goals always start from my dreams and desires.   Many times the goals I set for myself are based on a dream that I have.  Taking time away from being busy to being helps us focus on what our dreams are and could be.  I want Active Souls to cultivate a culture of dreaming and helping women manifest their dreams through goal setting, accountability, and options.

Physical, Mental, and Emotional Energy are the way we are able to go from dreaming to doing. 

I’ll start with physical energy.  When I think of physical energy I think of health.  There are 4 components to physical energy; nutrition, fitness, sleep, and renewal.  

Nutrition is about what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat.  

My advice is to keep it simple.  Focus on Macro Nutrients – Proteins, Carbs, and Fat.  Every time you eat, think about having a protein – lean meats, eggs, or dairy – a carb —fruits and vegetables, brown rice, bread – and a fat – olive oil, avocado, and nuts.  Watch your portion sizes, especially with carbs and fats.  By eating all 3 macronutrients at each meal and watching portion sizes, you’ll stay full longer and won’t have spikes in blood sugar normally associated with eating too many starchy carbs.

Next in terms of physical energy is fitness.  Exercise is about how fit you are meaning how much oxygen your blood can transport at any given time. As we all know, working on your fitness levels come with great health benefits and great confidence benefits.  And it can serve as the most important element to change your life into the one you want. 

Charles Duhigg, author of the Power of Habit, says out of all possible habits and routines, the gym habit is by far the most powerful.  The reason is simple – going to the gym creates a “cornerstone habit.”  That means you can build any other habit you want around this habit.  After you have a consistent fitness habit, it is easier to tackle any other challenge. 

Next on the physical energy scale is Sleep.  We need to recharge nightly and a good night’s sleep will help you do just that.  As adults we need anywhere from 7 – 9 hours of sleep.  The problem with not getting enough sleep is we don’t know were not getting enough sleep. 

Do you ever notice when you don’t get enough sleep, your motivation and energy are low?  Your body starts craving carbs and it’s harder to pass up the donuts in the break room?

Sleep is a natural state that is anabolic meaning it builds you up heightening the growth of the immune, skeletal, and muscular systems. Basically sleep rebuilds you and keeps you youthful. 

High quality sleep fortifies your immune system, balances your hormones, boosts your metabolism, increases physical energy, and improves the function of your brain. With all the essential benefits that sleep gives you, you will never, I repeat you will NEVER, have the body and life you want without giving your body the right amount of sleep.

Finally we need to recharge throughout the day.  Many of us are going all day and some don’t even take the time to go to the bathroom.  YIKES!  5 minutes every hour to get up and stretch, take a short walk, or just breathe deeply are great, short ways to recharge throughout the day. 

How well can you focus describes Mental Energy. How clear is your thinking?

Aristotle, the Greek Philosopher said “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” 

Mental energy helps increase not only focus and clarity; it is also linked to motivation, willpower, and productivity.  The mind has a huge effect on your physical energy.  Think about it, increased willpower and motivation often lead to healthier eating habits and less procrastination. 

The way we think has an astounding effect on the way others perceive us and how we perform.  When you feel confident, you look confident, and will perform more effectively increasing your likelihood of success. 

Some tips for increasing mental clarity besides the obvious eating right, exercising, and getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night are:

  • Declutter your mind – write down tasks and use your smart phone for reminders.  That way you don’t have to remember every single thing and you can focus on the task at hand
  • Keep your mind challenged but not fatigued.  Learn a new skill or try a new hobby, do crossword puzzles, or pick up a book that you wouldn’t normally choose
  • Break from your routine.  If you constantly get to work and don’t remember how you got there, maybe it’s time to try a new route!

Emotional energy is about how happy you are. The first step in emotional energy is taking responsibility for your emotions because they have a strong effect on your energy levels.  Taking responsibility for your emotions means your less dependent on external validation or circumstances to influence energy levels.

Stay in the present.  Thinking negatively about the past can cause anxiety and thinking about the future can cause anxiety.  Be in the present and accept the situation your in and take the best action your can.  Wishing for a different situation or wishing your had done something different in the past will only cause anxiety. 

Finally, surround yourself with positive people.  We are social creatures and building relationships and community makes us happy and gives us energy.  Spend time with people who think positively, have a lot of energy, and talk in a positive tone.  It will make you think more positively and give you energy.  There is a saying – you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.  If the four other people are negative nellies, guess what, you’re right there with them.  If your having trouble meeting positive people, listen to podcasts, read positive, affirming books and articles, and try being the positive force that attracts other positive people. 

The last part of the mission statement is achieving your dreams.  We are here to help.  Over the next few months we will be creating more programs to help you with motivation, accountability, community, and energy.  Stay tuned to Active Souls serving you, our community and all of us growing and getting better.

Three Must Eat Breakfast Foods

Three Must Eat Breakfast Foods

Are you a breakfast eater?  Or dare I ask are you a “healthy” breakfast eater? 

Maybe you need some inspiration for a few great breakfast foods.  Maybe you don't have time and you need some healthy ideas for “grab and go” mornings - who doesn't ever run short on time in the mornings?

Maybe you're ready to ditch the “desserts” that are marketed as being “part of a complete breakfast”.

Don't worry, I have you covered!

Five Cholesterol Myths and What to Eat Instead

Five Cholesterol Myths and What to Eat Instead

Are you just about done with everyone's “obsession” with cholesterol?  Do you already know that cholesterol is not all bad, in fact there is “good” cholesterol?

Well, here it is.  Let me bust some common cholesterol myths right now starting with the myth that “cholesterol is cholesterol” because it's not.  Depending on which of its buddies cholesterol is floating through your blood with makes a massive difference.  Not to mention the fact that cholesterol is essential to good health.  (Yes, you read that right!).

Why is my metabolism slow?

You may feel tired, cold or that you've gained weight.  Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.

You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.

Why does this happen?  Why do metabolic rates slow down?

What can slow my metabolism?

Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy.  And there are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

But don't worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”!  In fact it's so complicated I'm only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.

Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:

  • low thyroid hormone
  • your history of dieting
  • your size and body composition
  • your activity level
  • lack of sleep

We'll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active.   Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right.  But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.  Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example.

Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.

Your history of dieting

When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food. 

While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have.  As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.

Tip: Make sure you're eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it.

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. 

However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have. 

Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass.

Which leads us to...

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you're also getting hotter.

Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

Tip:  Incorporate movement into your day.  Also, exercise regularly.

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night. 

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Brazil nuts
  • 2 cups water
  • nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.  If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.

Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.  Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip:  Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries.

Why Your Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What You Weigh

Why Your Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What You Weigh

It can be too easy to think (or worry) about your weight.

But you know what?  There is something else that may be more important when it comes to real health.  That is your waist circumference.

Ahh, just a minute!  It's not just about the “pinchable” fat under the skin (you know, that “muffin top”), it's about the internal fat around your abdominal organs that can be the real issue.

That internal fat (AKA “visceral fat”) is known to release a bunch of hormones and inflammatory compounds that can mess with your blood sugar, blood fats (i.e triglycerides), and blood pressure.

In today's post I'll describe how to measure your waist circumference and then give you a bunch of actionable tips to help you reduce it.  And (of course) there's a super-nutritious recipe at the end.

BYE BYE Sleeping Through the Night

BYE BYE Sleeping Through the Night

Oh, that elusive sleep.  That time to relax and regenerate.  To heal and repair. 

If you need that coffee or two (or three) every morning you may get some very useful tips in this post.

Sleep isn't just important for your mind and body to have energy and be alert.  Lack of sleep can contribute to serious health issues which you don't want.

So let me have your attention for this “tip-filled” post on the importance of sleep and how you can get your fair share.  I'll even throw in an amazing caffeine-free latte recipe for your afternoon “pick me up”.