Sleeping Better, Together in September

“Wake me up when September ends” – Green Day

While the song is about grief, and we don’t desire to hurry this month along, it makes us think about how most of us struggle with getting enough sleep. So, today we are going to get serious about sleeping better, all together, in September.

Kids are back in school, and, for most of us, the summer activities are dwindling down. The sun is setting a bit earlier and now is one of the best times for us to follow the natural rhythm of the season by getting to bed a wee bit earlier.

The problem is, even if we know we should prioritize sleep, there are a couple tricky things that get in the way. Here are some common issues and ideas to help thwart them:

  1. The ‘Gremlin’ or ‘Inner Child’. This one got us good over the past weekend. It was date night and Netflix paraded a German post-war mystery/thriller show in front of us. Why not give it a try? Turns out that it was a series and, as our normal bedtime rolled around, the Inner Child trickster was all ready to protest “but I don’t wanna go to bed! I want to see what happens AND I’m learning/practicing my German AND tomorrow is Sunday so I can sleep in…” on and on, the rationalizations went. Long story short, staying up until 3am not only messed up our sleep but the tired, slow, foggy thinking and lack of motivation to do anything the next day led to more of the same on behavior on Sunday night. Thank goodness we got back on track on Monday. How to solve this: the first step involves awareness that the voice in your head is one of your inner child or gremlin. How will you be able to tell? Well, generally the thoughts you’ll have are about very short-term, false pleasure and how you “deserve” to do, or eat something. There’s a ton of rationalizing and usually done in a way that fools you into thinking the bad choice is a benefit (i.e. “I’m learning German with this show!”). The inner child doesn’t care about tomorrow’s hangover – it’s all about getting the candy, staying up late, partying and playing NOW – without evaluating potential consequences. Whether it’s with sleep, food choice, or something else, evaluate where the gremlin or inner child tends to pop up for you.

2. Rely less on Willpower and more upon Routines. The former you can only do for a certain amount of time until it either becomes a habit or falls apart. Routines can help create easy, automatic behaviors – just like brushing one’s teeth doesn’t require as much will to execute as it is just following part of the morning or evening ritual. When we turn off our devices at 11:30pm and expect good, deep sleep we are skipping the transition time our brains and bodies need to make before going to sleep. By creating an effective bedtime routine, you’ll signal to yourself that you’re moving into restorative, restful sleep time and you’ll likely see an improvement in both quality and quantity of sleep. Stay tuned for our bedtime routine in a future blog.

3. Don’t “Should” yourself – be Realistic. You might have ideals of going to sleep at 9pm and getting up to be a productive, early bird at 5 or 6am; however, it’s important to be realistic about your evening activities and how late they run (this is why our Experiment in Early Rising & Exercise didn’t work out so well). If you’ve been a night owl for most of your life, part of it could be genetics or your particular cronotype (and is unlikely to change), or you’re going to need to set up some small improvements first (e.g. going to bed at 12:45am instead of 1am). When you put the kids down for bed, do the hours afterward get stretched out as you enjoy some much-needed alone or self-care time? Don’t give up your me-time; adjust the dial a bit and consider watching one or two episodes of your favorite show instead of four before bed. You don’t have to sleep when your kids do, but if you stay up too late, no one will be happy the next morning.

4. Track your Progress and Celebrate your Wins. Remember how the teacher would give you a gold star for reading a book and after 20 stars you got a reward? We can do the same thing for ourselves by tracking and celebrating our own progress. One of the best tools we use, and share with clients, is our Habit Tracker. With a simple sticker or “x” you can see how many days out of the month you had enough water or sleep, got in some exercise or meditation practice. Consider tracking ONLY sleep for this month, in order to not overwhelm yourself. Perhaps a simple prompt “in bed before 11pm” is a place to start tracking your success this month. Celebrate as you see the row of stickers or “x” marks build and reflect to see how the habit has served you (e.g. more energy, etc) well. This will help reinforce the change you’re making.

Let’s create a movement to reclaim our rest as we all sleep better, together, in September.

Health Trends & Predictions 🔮

We’ve been approached by a couple of companies this week to consult about health trends and the future of nutrition and wellness. Would you like to take a peek into the now and what’s to come? No crystal ball nor clairvoyance needed.

#1 – Personalized medicine and nutrition. We’re all so used to customizing our license plates, shoes, clothes and the like…and when it comes to health and dietary advice we know there’s no-one-size-fits-all. What works for a celebrity, your best friend, or even cousin may not work for you. We all want to know what we should be eating to best fuel our bodies for performance, heal our guts, and be genetically appropriate to help prevent cardiovascular disease or even improve our memory and brain health. Enter food sensitivity testing and DNA testing to fill a gap in the market that helps figure out the best foods to avoid, and incorporate, for your unique body.

#2 – CBD products. Many of us are interested to see what CBD can do for our pain, our poor sleep, and even to help with anxiety. From gummies to tinctures and pain patches, there’s a lot of research and people experimenting on themselves with these substances to alleviate health issues.

#3 – Herbs & Botanical Medicine. Plants have been used to help our species deal with all sorts of maladies since time immemorial. During the Middle Ages, folk healers were called upon to help people in the community with their health issues. However, sharing generations of herbal knowledge was parti-cu-larly dangerous during this time as a church in power not only had strict roles for women, but also condemned the pagan practice of herbalism. This sent herbalism underground and it nearly died out. Fortunately some pioneers in the 1960’s and 70’s brought this ancient knowledge back into ‘mainstream’ attention. Depending on the plants used, and the knowledge of the herbalist, this can be an effective, low-cost option, and generally one without so many of the dangerous side effects mentioned in pharmaceutal drug ads.

#4 – Plant-based diets and Intuitive Eating. There are many specialty diets floating around these days: keto, gluten-free, low FODMAP, vegan, paleo…and interest in plant-based eating is growing. Whether for health, animal or environmental reasons, many people are looking to incorporate more plant-based meals. Meatless Mondays are a good start, if that’s something of interest to you. Intuitive eating, or mindful eating, really is different than just letting your inner two-year-old run your diet. It’s about paying attention to your thoughts and feelings around your meals and after. How do you feel physically after your meal? How full or stuffed are you and what does that feel like? Part of Intuitive Eating is about slowing down, which creates a little bit of tension in a world that seems to demand that we eat quickly while we do any other number of activities – including driving, working, or watching TV.

#5 – In, out, and all-around Health & Wellness Changes. A typical progression when making healthy changes is starting by changing what one is putting into their bodies – mainly their food and drink. After having spent time reading through ingredients lists on food, the next common change is that people will take a look at their personal care products and/or cosmetics – the ingredients put on the body (which, of course, get absorbed through the body’s largest organ, the skin). The next progression tends to look more at changing the environment closest to one’s individual bubble – such as the home – and then thinking more globally. This could initially look like changing the cleaning products used in the house and adjusting laundry detergents, fragrance sticks and plug-ins, or water quality. Thinking globally, one might start looking the company practices behind their favorite coffee, chocolate, and more to see if they value fair trade practices, organic or sustainable farming practices.

While some of these are certainly not new, they were definitely more fringe ideas back a decade or so ago. Which ones do you think will trend into the future? What are some other changes you anticipate seeing in health and wellness?

10 Things I Hate About You 😠

We’re not referring to the 1999 movie, loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, though it’s a fairly timeless movie. We also don’t hate you; in fact, we are quite fond of you…but are you fond of yourself?

Today, we’re bringing to light negative self-talk, the ways in which we show unkindness or even hatred toward ourselves. Have you ever thought…

1. Ugh! How do I weigh this much? I hate my body!

2. No wonder no one likes me. I’m so boring.

3. I give up. I can’t do this.

4. Sooner or later, I always mess up anyway.

5. You’re such a fat loser, how could you eat a second piece of cake?

6. Here we go again, me and my ‘thunder thighs’ won’t get to wear shorts this summer.

7. Others won’t like me. They’re better than I am.

8. I’m not good enough. I have to strive to be perfect and please everyone else.

9. What’s the use in trying? I’m not worth it.

10. How could you have said something so stupid? You’re such an idiot.

Each of these statements has been a part of the soliloquy playing through a person’s head. Many of them are universally shared.

Sometimes the saying “you are your own worst enemy” is very true. Most people can name 10 ways in which they hate themselves easier than they can list their positive qualities. Here’s the twist: if we are capable of being our own worst enemies, then we are also able to be our own best friends. Don’t expect your inner dialogue to change overnight though, these conversation patterns will need to be disrupted and then practiced.

How to transform negative self-talk

1. Start with awareness – “oh, I just had a thought that I always mess up” and gently probe to see what triggered the thought: “I got scared because my co-worker asked me to use new software to run reports and I don’t know how.”

2. Label the thought and evaluate it to see if it’s even true. If so, you can choose another thought that is also true on for size. Practice this, it likely won’t immediately replace the negative self-talk.

3. Sometimes you have to go into neutral before moving into the positive thoughts and affirmations. Otherwise, the chasm between what your brain believes is true (the negative “you’re a fat slob”) and the thoughts you’re trying to adopt (the affirmation “you are a beautiful goddess”) will be too great to cross. So, instead of trying to move from a thought about hating your body to loving your body, you may need to focus on the neutral fact that you have a body.

4. Give your brain a duty – it could be to search your memories to find 3 times in your life when you were most proud of yourself for overcoming adversity or to seek out 5 things you appreciate about your body. When you give your mind a job, like code in a program ordering the computer to find a file, it will do it.

Have your HATED yourself into Weight Loss?

Chances are, you’ve likely used the disgust and the fury of hating your body as the fuel to starve and beat yourself into losing some weight. Instead of 500-calorie deprivation diets and over-exercising, there is another way…

Curious to see how you can love yourself into a healthier lifestyle and happier body?

Check out Lose the ‘Quarantine 15’ this Quarter; it’s not a competitive, bootcamp-style program. It’s a group training and coaching program designed to help you build a better relationship with yourself, your body, and with food.

It’s not just focused on weight. We have metrics we’ll be tracking for body composition, tips to improve sleep and digestion, along with organizational tips for your time and home so you’ll make time for self-care and have handy essentials available to make quick and delicious meals.

Have more questions or want to get acquainted before grabbing your seat? Schedule your introductory “Ready to Lose the ‘Quarantine 15’ – let’s talk!” call. We’re happy to answer questions and help ensure that this program is a great fit for you and your needs.

Recipe: Jackfruit Peanut Noodles

Our first instinct was to call this recipe “Jolly Jackfruit” for two reasons: the red and green vibrant colors are reminiscent of the holidays AND it’s a meal that promotes feeling jolly afterward, fueled with plant-proteins and bright vegetables. It doesn’t hurt that the peanut sauce is to-die-for delicious. Use this meal for your new year’s resolutions of eating healthier and/or more plant-based. Enjoy!

Prep time: about 20 minutes

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Ingredients

2 cans of young jackfruit

2 tbsp olive oil (coconut oil works too)

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups kale, chopped

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or use soy sauce or tamari)

2 tsp toasted sesame seed oil

1 Tbsp fresh ginger

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (1-2 limes needed)

1/2 Tbsp maple syrup (optional, to help provide a multi-dimensional flavor to the peanut sauce)

8oz rice noodles, prepared according to package instructions

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat then add garlic, kale, and red bell pepper to cook for 4-6 minutes. Stir regularly. Drain the jackfruit and remove hard core. Use your hands to pull, or ‘shred’ the jackfruit. Add it to the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes.

Now it’s time to prepare the peanut sauce. In a blender, add the coconut milk, peanut butter, coconut aminos, lime juice, maple syrup, toasted sesame oil and ginger. Blend until smooth then taste and add seasonings or spice until it’s to your liking.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and then add the rice noodles and cook according to the package instructions While waiting, pour the peanut sauce into the skillet to coat the jackfruit and veggies with the peanut sauce. Stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes before removing mixture from heat. Serve by placing noodles in a bowl and topping with the jackfruit and veggies. Add cilantro, peanuts, or red pepper flakes for additional flavor and garnish, if desired. This dish is best served fresh but can be easily heated up the next day for a delicious lunch.

If you are allergic to peanuts, take heart – almond butter worked just as well for this recipe.

Recipe: Savory Tahini Sauce

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Savory Tahini Sauce

Tahini, made from sesame seed paste, is a surprisingly versatile condiment to have in the kitchen. You can often eat and use it the way you would peanut butter – right out of the jar or with celery sticks. This five-ingredient savory sauce an be drizzled on top of salad, falafel, soup, roasted veggies or any number or dishes.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Yield: ~1 cup

Ingredients

1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt

Instructions

Combine tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic and salt in blender or food processor. Pulse or blend until smooth. Enjoy it fresh though it does keep for about a week in the refrigerator.