Winter is Still Here….

Winter is Still Here….

There are still 39 days, 6 hours and 17 minutes left until Spring 2017 is officially here. So, that means we still have a lot of time to deal with winter in many parts of the country.

I’m very fortunate to be living in Texas where it is 86 degrees and sunny so I already feel like spring has arrived. But, that can change at the drop of a hat around here and I know that in places like Chicago, Minneapolis and in many other cities, it is cold, blustery and the rhythms of winter are still if full force.

How do you stay balanced through the remainder of winter? What can you do to make the most of the season, protect your health keep from getting the winter blues for the next 39 days? There are some great Ayurvedic techniques you can adopt that will help you throughout the winter season and help you to flourish and not just cope with the days ahead.

Ayurveda blossomed thousands of years ago when the world was much different than it is today. People functioned more closely in tune with nature and their surroundings and slept and were awakened by their circadian rhythms and not by terrifying alarm clocks signaling the time to get up for work!

Ayurveda is based on the notion that there are three main doshas, vata (the energy of movement), pitta (the energy of digestion or metabolism and kappa (the energy of structure and lubricatio). The practice also says that every human body is in tune with one of these dosha and they correlate to the seasons with vata being winter, pitta being summer and kapha being spring.

That being the case, winter is the cycle of vata and by standing in harmony with the natural cycle of winter, you can help to build your health, energy and the ability to fight off cold and disease during the winter. How can you do that? By adjusting what you eat, the type of exercise you are doing or any type of herbs or supplements you may take can affect the way you feel during the winter months.

Here are some hints to make the remaining part of winter a bit easier to handle!
* Wake up a little bit later than in other seasons (extend your sleep by 30-60 minutes if possible)
* Have a warm cup of water with lemon first thing in the morning to get your digestive system moving
* Treat yourself to an extra long shower and towel scrub before work
* Add in some yoga or meditation before getting the day started to open the chest, throat and sinuses
* Eat a nutritious breakfast of oatmeal or grains like quinoa and add cinnamon for heating but sweet spice
* Drink tea instead of coffee and add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of clove to increase digestion
* Exercise regularly to increase blood flow and circulation when we naturally tend to be more sedate in the winter
* Get some sun! If you don’t want to walk out in the cold, sit by a nice window and soak up some rays. The vitamin D helps with mood
* Eat foods that are warming and nourishing like homemade soups, steamed veggies and add spices to them.
* Avoid dairy as it increases mucus and congestion which can already be a bother in winter when we are closed indoors
* Enjoy a glass or two of sweet or dry wine with dinner to help with digestive fire, improve appetite and circulation
* Get plenty of vitamin C, add ginger to tea if you feel a cold coming on. You can also add to a warm bath along with baking soda
* Use natural saline solution in your nose to keep your nasal passages moist and clear during the dry winter months
* Bundle up! You really do lose more than half your body heat through your head so wear a hat and keep warm.

The other thing I love to do is get out a calendar or print one out from your computer. Keep count of the days leading up to Spring’s arrival and plot out all the things you would like to get done prior to then. We all know that “Spring Cleaning” is on everyone’s list so begin with yourself and write down all the things you would like to “clean out” before

World Diabetes Day

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Started by the International Diabetes Foundation back in 1991, World Diabetes Day was created in response to the growing concern about diabetes and about the health threats posed by the disease. Coincidentally, today is also the birthday of Frederick Banting who discovered insulin back in 1921.

Did you know that 29.1 million Americans (9.3% of the population) had diabetes in 2012 and those numbers continue to grow. Of those, approximately 1.25 million had Type 1 diabetes. One in two adults with diabetes are undiagnosed. It is of vital importance to screen for diabetes if you have any of the risk factors and screening is at the forefront of the World Diabetes Day campaign to ensure early diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes and to help reduce the serious complications that can arise from this disease.

So what is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes? For those with Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, which eventually eliminates the production of insulin from the body completely. When a person does not have insult, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose) which they need to produce energy. This type has often been called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes. It accounts for somewhere between 5-10 in 100 people who have the disease.

In Type 2 diabetes, often called adult-onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes, this form of diabetes usually manifests during adulthood but can develop at any age. About 95 of 100 people with diabetes have Type 2. What this means is that a person’s body can no longer use insulin the right way which is also called insulin resistance. If Type 2 progresses and gets worse, a person’s pancreas makes less and less insulin, also called insulin deficiency.

The real difference between the two is that Type 1 diabetes is not preventable. You either have it or you don’t. Type 2 diabetes, can be prevented and/or reversed by eating heathy foods, exercising regularly and living a healthy lifestyle. The sad news about Type 2 diabetes is that more and more children are being diagnosed every year and much can be attributed to eating junk food in large amounts and having a mainly sedentary lifestyle. Time to focus people!

There are several similar consequences to having both types of diabetes and they all stem from possible complications from the disease. If diabetes is not managed on a daily basis, it can ultimately lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and potential limb amputation.

It may be natural to think that you must stop eating all forms of sugar when you have diabetes or to prevent diabetes but that is not the case. You have to be smart about how much sugar you take in each day and what kind of sugar you are eating.

Here are some foods to fill up on:

Healthy fats from raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, whole milk dairy, or avocados

Fruits and vegetables—ideally fresh, the more colorful the better; whole fruit rather than juices

High-fiber cereals and breads made from whole grains or legumes

Fish and shellfish, organic, free-range chicken or turkey

High-quality protein such as eggs, beans, milk, cheese, and unsweetened yogurt

Here are foods to eat less of or to avoid:

Trans-fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods

Packaged and fast foods, especially those high in sugar, baked goods, sweets, chips, desserts

White bread, sugary cereals, refined pastas or rice

Processed meat and red meat from animals fed with antibiotics, growth hormones, and GMO feed

Low-fat products that have replaced fat with added sugar, such as fat-free yogurt

It is also important to pay attention to the Glycemic Index (GI) of particular foods. Wikipedia defines the Glycemic Index as:

The glycemic index or glycaemic index (GI) is a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food’s effect on a person’s blood glucose (also called blood sugar) level. A value of 100 represents the standard, an equivalent amount of pure glucose.[1]

The GI represents the total rise in a person’s blood sugar level following consumption of the food; it may or may not represent the rapidity of the rise in blood sugar. The steepness of the rise can be influenced by a number of other factors, such as the quantity of fat eaten with the food. The GI is useful for understanding how the body breaks down carbohydrates[2] and only takes into account the available carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) in a food. Although the food may contain fats and other components that contribute to the total rise in blood sugar, these effects are not reflected in the GI.

A good dietary guidelines to follow may include the Mediterraean Diet and those close to that. If you would like more information on how to eat to either reverse or prevent diabetes, contact me at 832-777-6669 or heidismith@integrativewellnessstudio.net and I will create a customized program to meet your goals and needs.

Losing weight is hard at 50!

Good morning!!!

Lose weight concept with person on a scale measuring kilograms

It has been a while since I have posted on my blog and I am sorry for my absence. I’d fallen into a bit of writer’s block and am finally inspired to share something with y’all today!

My husband and I moved to Houston from Chicago almost a year ago. Relatively soon after we moved here, I noticed that I had been gaining some weight. Now, initially I thought it was the Texas BBQ, but I was not really indulging in it all that much. Then I thought it may have been because my elbow was injured badly and I could not work out like I had been back in Chicago so that must have been it. Had surgery to repair the injury and once released from rehab, I went back to working out again.

The New Year rolled around and I noticed that the weight was still coming on and I was eating clean as I normally do, watching my calories and I was working out as usual. Still, not losing any weight. During the spring, I was very busy with clients and was finishing my book and studying for another certification and just thought maybe it was too much stress with all that I had going on. May rolls around and then we went to Greece on vacation. I was walking at least 5 miles a day and eating an amazingly healthy Mediterranean diet and still, no weight loss. Super frustrated, as you can imagine!

Once we returned from holiday, I decided it was time to really get serious. I decided that I needed to restrict my calorie intake, really focus on eating the right foods for my body makeup and work out more and vary the type of exercises that I had been doing. For the last four weeks, I have been mixing up my exercise between running, walking, kickboxing, swimming and HIIT. I feel great and stronger than I have been pre-elbow surgery. My food intake has been super healthy and I’ve restricted my calories to about 1200 per day which has always been good for me when I needed to lose weight. The result is that I have lost 7 pounds! Sounds ok, right?

Well, what I have realized is that I am doing everything that I encourage my clients NOT to do! I always encourage my clients to be patient with themselves and their body, nothing happens overnight. I encourage my clients to eat a healthy and balanced diet and to take time at meals and chew their food so that their body can digest food properly. I encourage my clients to get plenty of sleep because sleep helps to regulate cortisol levels which can make your body store fat, particularly around your midsection. I encourage my clients to practice some type of relaxation such as meditation, yoga or tai chi as it helps your body to focus, breathe and relax. Some of these other very simple yet effective practices, I have not encouraged myself to do.

Between working with my clients, getting a new certification, handling the sales for my book and all my own marketing and social media – I still have to run my household and manage two dogs with various health issues. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Like most working mom’s or single professionals, we tend to be able to help and encourage others and not ourselves. My sleep habits are terrible and I average about 4 1/2 hours a night. I have not been to yoga in weeks because there is always something else to do or the class times are not convenient. I rush through meals because there is always another chore to get done around the house and time is short! Shame on me for not making myself and my health a priority.

How am I going to fix this? Well, truth be told, my body does not work today at 50 like it did when I was 30. I cannot just reduce my calories and expect to drop 20 pounds in a month. Doesn’t work like that. My metabolism is changing, my hormones are changing and I now have to reassess my own body makeup and function to be able to determine the RIGHT plan for myself to lose the extra pounds that I have put on.

Weight Loss Challenge Advice Guidance Humble Houston Texas TX

Most people would look at me and say that I am not overweight. For me, I am the heaviest that I have ever been. I am 5’5″ and very small boned so I can pack weight on before anyone will ever really notice. But, I notice the weight because clothes that I bought last summer no longer fit. My favorite jeans are so tight that I now have a muffin top and I am uncomfortable in my own skin.

When I began this weight loss journey four weeks ago I weighed 151 pounds which, for me, was bad. My normal “fighting weight” is around 126 and that is where I feel most comfortable. Today, as I got on the scale and saw 144, I felt discouraged. Why have I not lost more weight? Well, after taking some time to think and really understand where my body is, I realized that 7 pounds is a great start! My body does not lose weight as quickly as it once did and that is ok.

Now I am focused on identifying what I can do to get more sleep, balance my hormones and rev up my metabolism. What foods can I eat that will supplement the directions outlined previously to give me the right kind of energy and nutrition while supporting my need to avoid gluten and dairy. And, finally, what can I do to slow down a bit during the day and find more time to relax and reflect. All of those things together, with a focused exercise program will help me to reach my final weight goal. I am not delusional in thinking that I will ever get back to 126 pounds, nor am I sure that I want to. I do, however, think that another 10 pounds released would help me to feel great again, have more energy and fit back into the clothes I love and feel good in my own skin. That is really what it is all about. It is not what others think of what I weigh or how I look. It is about how I feel and at what weight and strength I feel most healthy and powerful.

If you have ever struggled with your weight, share your story with me and maybe you will help others to be encouraged to follow their own journey to sustainable health for life!

Gardens help humans grow….and plants too!

Gardening was not ever really something I had to good fortune to do while I was living in Chicago. I lived in condos and high-rises most of my adult life and had very little space to be able to have houseplants much less and outdoor garden.

Now that I am living in Houston, my husband and I have a home in the burbs with a good sized yard and I actually have a garden now. I inherited my garden from the previous owner so it is not the “format” I would normally have chosen and we will be changing things up for next growing season. For now, I have a fun little area where I am growing veggies and herbs and have some lovely flowers growing this year as well.

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Of course, having your own garden and growing your own fruits and veggies will improve your diet by giving you fresh, organically grown foods but it is also healthy for you in some other ways you may not have thought about!

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1) It can help to reduce fat by reducing cortisol – studies have shown that gardening can help to reduce cortisol levels in the body and cortisol, when elevated, can lead to obesity, heart disease, and problems with immune function.

2) Can increase strength and dexterity – even simple exercise like using a rake, hoe, edger and help to build muscle strength and things like digging and planting and help to build dexterity in your hands.

3) Helps to increase Vitamin D and heart health – it is important to get enough Vitamin D and we can get that through sunlight. Be sure to remember not to overdo it as just 10 minutes of midday gardening will give you enough exposure to Vitamin D to help reduce the risks of heart disease. If you plan to be out longer than 10 minutes but sure to use sunscreen so that you will not risk damage to your skin.

4) Gardening can help to reduce the risks of dementia – this one blew my mind! Research has found that it may help to reduce the incidence of dementia by 36%. It is thought that gardening includes critical functions like learning, problem solving, sensory awareness, strength and dexterity – all factors that can help to keep the brain healthy.

5) Helps to curb depression and lift mood – the process of nurturing plants from seedlings to full grown, thriving plants, has a tremendous impact on mood. Additionally the actual physical exertion your can expend in the garden is a natural mood enhancer much like that you would get as a “runner’s high”. Having the opportunity to look at a beautiful, lush garden is nourishing to all senses and just makes you feel good.

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So, today happens to be National Gardening Exercise Day so I encourage you to get out in your garden and do some exercises. I like to do arm curls and deadlifts with my watering can, it weighs about 10 pounds so it is good way to build arm strength. My garden area is very peaceful and I also have good walkways space and it is perfect to do lunges in the morning. However you plan to get your exercise done, try doing some of it in your garden today!

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