Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fall Into Health! - Getting Back Into Healthy!

For most of you reading this, September may no longer be “BACK TO SCHOOL” season, but that doesn't mean that your routine (or should I say LACK thereof) doesn't change with August end. 

As summer slowly turns to autumn, maybe its time to make a few positive changes (or simply back to our regular wellness routine) as a means of ‘falling’ back into a healthier you!

Summer typically gets us out of an optimal sleep routine. Longer hours of sunlight keep us busy until later in the evening. We eat later, our sleep routine starts later, but we still have to get up at the same time…Ugh! Why is sleep so important to our health? Sleep is necessary to sustain normal levels of cognitive skills such as speech, memory, and innovative, flexible thinking. It is also essential for growth and repair of tissues/cells. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle, causing sleepiness and lowering body temperature. When developing an optimal sleep routine, our goal should always be to optimize melatonin secretion. We can do this by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, aiming to be sleeping by 11pm. Darkness is also important. Melatonin is inhibited by light, and even the smallest amount of light (like that from a night light, digital clock, street lamp or TV screen) can alter melatonin secretion.

Did you know that the average person actually gains weight in the summer? Well, summer is almost over, darlin’… so time to get back to a regular workout routine. You’ll have to excuse me if I’ve mentioned this already, but… if weight loss is one of your health goals, exercise HAS TO BE part of your daily routine. That being said, that’s not the only reason we need to sweat. Cardiovascular exercise has a documented mood enhancing effect, and over the long term studies are showing it may play an important role in relieving chronic anxiety and depression. Weight bearing exercises can also help to preserve bone density, especially in women, along with balance, strength and joint health. Weight bearing exercises should always be performed under the guidance of a professional, who can ensure proper technique and reduce strain and injury.

Stop Drinking Your Calories!
Is an explanation really necessary? Summer is patio season, and we usually treat ourselves to something cold and delicious, maybe alcoholic? These ‘cocktails’ are almost always high in sugar, heavy in calories, and hard on our waistline, as well as our blood sugar (and livers, if you are consuming the alcoholic varieties). It’s time for a little autumn detox. Cut the refined sugar and calories by cutting out the beverages. Drink water, instead.

Dust Off Your Supplement Cabinet!
If supplements are part of your daily routine, and you have thrown your daily routine out the window, chances are your supplement intake is out there, as well. It’s absolutely okay to take a supplement holidays, as long as you can get back on track! Fall is an excellent time to focus on the immune system, preparing it for winter cold and flu season. Or maybe your looking to clean up your diet, and optimize digestion. Don’t forget your vitamin D needs are going to increase very soon! The change of season is an excellent opportunity to talk to you local ND about your health goals in relation to what the supplements you have been taking, or are considering. Find out which ones are needed daily, which ones are more suitable as for short term use, and which ones you can literally throw out the window for good (not literally, folks. Please don’t throw your old supplements out the window!)

If I See One More Bowl of Chips…
In many ways, summer ha the potential to be a time for healthier eating. We tend to eat more fruit and vegetables because they are in season, more delicious and more easily accessible. BUT (in capital letters… this means I’m serious!), it’s also time for weddings (insert tasty hors d'oeuvres, cupcakes and late night buffets here), campfires (s'mores anyone?), and backyard BBQ’s (I’ll have some chips and dip, hot dogs and ice cream, please!)... So, not the ideal diet, then! Take this opportunity to get back into a healthy routine. Start making a grocery list again, and keep chips off it for a few months. Focus less on the party and more on the hearty (healthy, that is) fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Here are a few summer habits you want to maintain all year round!

  •  Keep eating your fruit and vegetable. Freeze your own, if you are worried about buying out of season.
  • Stay outdoors – you may have to thrown on a sweater, but as fall approaches it doesn’t mean we need to stay hibernating indoors. Get outside. Breath in some fresh fall air!
  • Socialize! Summer seems to be a more social time for all of us. Winter, on the other hand, has fewer daylight hours, lower temperatures, and can be difficult to get around in… put together, this time of year can be isolating. Start making plans now! Plan a trip, party/get together to look forward to over the fall and winter months. You can calm your social calendar without having to put it away entirely.

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