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Holistic Wellness

You hear alot the word “Holistic” and “Wellness” on social media or the internet, but what exactly does it all mean?

I know you might instantly think of herbs, smudging or incense, alternative meditations, aromatherapy, and so on when you hear the word Holistic. 

BUT, Holistic actually means addressing a person as a “WHOLE”….physically, emotionally, socially, and their well-being. Looking beyond one thing like just exercise or just nutrition but focusing on the Whole Person’s mind, body, & soul, taking every aspect of a person’s life into account in order to find a place of healing, balance, and positive energy. (1)

AND Wellness means the state of being in good health, especially the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving.

Wellness focuses on you mentally, physically, socially, spiritually, emotionally, environmentally, and existentially. When one dimension of our well-being is out of balance, the other dimensions are affected. (2)

Why is this important? If you just focus on working out or exercising and maybe start a diet you saw online, you are not working on Yourself as a WHOLE, making sure to promote a balance in factors such as your lifestyle, mental health, sleep habits, recovery, stress level and so much more.

For example, you could be doing that cleanse you saw someone promoting online and doing your BootCamp workouts to make sure you burn that fat you desire, BUT you may be suffering from lack of sleep or insomnia, or your hormones have gotten out of balanced, OR your stress levels at work have increased, leading your cortisol levels up.

Guess what? That cleanse and BootCamp will not get you the results you are looking for and actually could lead up to the opposite of what you are trying to achieve because you were not working on yourself as a whole and keeping all aspects of your Wellness in harmony.

As you can see, Holistic and Wellness are similar as they are both focusing on more than one thing. Holistic wellness promotes wellness in all areas of life and strives to bring a person’s mind, body, environment, and spirit into balance. (3)

We tend to have blinders on and just focus on one or two things in our Health, which typically is losing weight or eating better so that we don’t look deep into the root cause of what is going on as a WHOLE within our bodies, minds, and soul.

You want to keep a synergy with your body. Start listening to your body, writing down, and taking note of everything that is going on in your life to make sure you are not overlooking certain dimensions within your Health & Wellness.

So, don’t forget to work on your stress management, or sleep, recovery or self-care, healthy habits, or mental health when you are working on your goals for 2023.

At Erin Wheless Wellness, I work with you in a complete Holistic Wellness approach to provide a customized program for you that gives you precisely what you need when you need it and helps you reach your goals, no matter how those needs may change. I work with you one-on-one, coaching you in health, nutrition, healthy habits + mindset, and fitness wrapped all in one excellent package. All of these elements work in perfect harmony. Whether you seek sleep and stress management guidance, better nutrition or lifestyle choices, get healthier overall, or improve your fitness or recovery, I’ve got you covered. I believe in coaching the body and the mind from the inside out to help you become a healthier, happier, and better version of yourself.

If you would like to have a FREE 30-min Coaching Call or have more questions about how you can improve your overall Wellness, book a FREE call with me below.

Sleeping into Positive Benefits

Do you feel like no matter how healthy you eat, try to stay active, or try to reduce stress and work on yourself, you just can’t seem to reach those goals? Frustrating, isn’t it?

Stop trying to blame yourself and start evaluating what might be stalling you from reaching those goals, whatever they may be.

One main problem is your sleep, especially the quality of your sleep which is affecting your health, wellness, and mental health.

Sleep affects everything in our bodies literally.

If you are not getting a night of good sleep, you could struggle with weight gain and find it harder to lose weight, even if you are eating healthy and exercising. Lack of sleep also messes with your metabolism and hormones, and if you are in midlife or menopause, you may notice problems sleeping as well. Not getting enough Zzzz has even been shown to decrease your body’s ability to build muscle, athletic performance, and recovery.  Sleep is where your body recovers, heal, strengthens your immune system, keeps your brain healthy, improves mood, helps clean and get rid of body waste. And so much more. (1) (2)

Make sure to strive to get at least 7+ hours of sleep a night and make sure you are getting quality sleep, and you are not waking up alot at night. 

Working on a bedtime routine an hour before you go to sleep can help you strive closer to getting better sleep.

So what is a Bedtime Routine?

This a routine you perform at least an hour before you go to bed every night that helps prepare you for sleep.

  • It could be taking be warm bath (I love soaking in lavender epsom salt),
  • Reading a book (not on a digital device) can help relax you and reduce stress. There have even been studies showing reading 30 min before bed or longer can help you fall asleep, improve the quality of sleep, and help you to be able to sleep for a longer duration. (4)
  • Make sure to set up a sleep schedule by going to bed near the same time every night to set your body up with a natural circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle).
  • If you feel you are always racing with thoughts, thinking about work, replaying your day, or feeling anxious. Start journaling or brain-dumping everything in your head at the moment during your bedtime routine. That way, you are getting everything out onto paper, so you do not bring it to bed.
  • Performing light stretching or doing restorative yoga during your bedtime routine releases any tension or stress, promotes a sense of calm, and activates our “rest-and-digest” response, preparing us for a good night of sleep. Yoga Nidra, which is a meditative state of a deep relaxation type of yoga, affects melatonin levels and helps restore energy and calms the mind.
  • Meditating, breathing exercises, and drinking chamomile or herbal tea will relax your body and mind. helping in aiding sleep.
  • Make sure your bedroom is set at a cooler temperature, removed from any distractions or noises, and is dark. (3)

What should you AVOID for a good night’s Sleep?

Just like your bedtime routine preparing your body for sleep, you also need to be aware of things that will disturb your sleep and the quality of sleep.

  • Avoid ALL Electronic Devices. Make sure you avoid any blue-light devices like your phone or smart tablets an hour before sleep or during your bedtime routine. that blue light floods your brain, tricking it into thinking it’s daytime. As a result, your brain suppresses melatonin, your circadian rhyme, and works to stay awake.
  • Avoid Caffeine after 3 pm. Caffeine can disrupt your sleep for up to six hours after consuming it.
  • Reducing or avoiding alcohol. Having 1-2 drinks in the evening can interfere with your REM sleep or deep sleep and have you waking up in the middle of the night at times, so your quality of sleep becomes poor. Try to avoid drinking alcohol 3-4 hours before you plan on going to sleep.
  • Omit Large Meals Before Bed. Do not eat a large or heavy meal before bed, which makes it harder to fall asleep. If you must, eat a light snack containing protein, low-digesting carbs, and fat. Bananas with peanut butter or yogurt are a great snack, as bananas are rich in magnesium and have been found to increase melatonin significantly. Cherries are also a natural source of melatonin, and adding them with yogurt makes another great snack.
  • Watch Liquids before Bed. Make sure to cut off water and liquids right before bed. Nothing is worse than waking from a good sleep a few times a night and running to the bathroom.

Here is What Happens When You Get Enough Sleep Each Day,

  1. Improves our mood and the ability to manage our emotions;
  2. Make us less impulsive (which helps us make better decisions..including foods choices);
  3. Boost memory, helps us learn and remember;
  4. Improves cognition, concentration, and attention;
  5. Keeps our brains healthy;
  6. Helps us lose fat and build valuable lean tissue like muscle and bone;
  7. Helps repair tissues;
  8. Helps regulates our blood sugar and lipids ;
  9. Several hormones are involved in sleep and circadian rhythmicity. Cortisol and melatonin are the two main hormones that regulate your sleep pattern. Sleep is a vital part of maintaining your metabolism and your hunger hormones (Leptin, Insulin, & Ghrelin). Your growth hormone levels are also increased during sleep. (5)
  10. Regulates our hunger, appetite, and satiety (which helps us make wise food choices, eat the right amount for our bodies, and eliminate cravings);
  11. Helps clean up and get rid of our body’s waste products
  12. Helps boost energy levels, athletic performance, and recovery

What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?

  1. Affects our emotional well-being, our cognitive abilities, and our physical health.
  2. Our mood (increased irritability, mood fluctuations, feeling low or depressed, blah)
  3. Lack of Motivation and feeling negative
  4. Less able to manage our feelings and behaviors
  5. Decrease performance at work, home, and exercise
  6. Unable to concentrate or focus and brain fog
  7. Drowsiness, low energy, and tired
  8. Compromising immune system
  9. Lack of willpower, cravings, and hunger increase
  10. Weight gain and problem losing weight
  11. Hormonal imbalances and changes in metabolism
  12. Prone to more injuries
  13. Risk of many health issues or diseases

“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” — Thomas Dekker

As you can sleep is extremely important in your overall health, wellness, and mental health. It is time to prioritize your sleep more, just like you do with your diet and physical activity.

If you need help with sleep, stress management, or any part of your Wellness, I can HELP! Book a FREE 30 min Breakthrough Coaching Call with me below!

Habits + Mindset Crushes Resolutions

Happy NEW YEAR! 2023 is HERE!! It’s a New chapter, a New Day and a Fresh start to the year.

Are you ready to take on the year like an Empowered Warrior!

On my last Blog, we talked about setting Intentions and not Resolutions….today we are going to talk about tweaking and building your Habits + Mindset, Not Resolutions for this year.

Why should we not focus on the Resolutions or Goals as we have in the past? We talked about before some of the negatives that Resolutions can bring….BUT, let’s talk about something else you don’t think about.

When you jump into that all-or-nothing Resolution of strict eating, fad diets, detoxes, and cleanses……you are NOT WORKING on the underlying issues that have brought you to want to improve your health or change.

So what am I talking about? I am talking about your Habits & Mindset. That restrictive eating or detoxes will NOT help you if you have a sugar addiction, or you are an emotional eater, or maybe extremely stressed, you are always busy helping others but never take time for yourself, you don’t get sleep during the week, you only workout for 30min-1hr but sit the rest of the day, or you tend to self-sabotage yourself without even realizing. 

Do you see where I am going with this? All you are doing to yourself is getting on the Yo-Yo wheel in life.

What happens is your habits and mindset go back to the same routine as before because you never really worked on building them or even working consistently for them to stick into a routine. 

It is NOT YOUR FAULT or your Lack of Willpower if you fail on that fad diet, detox, or stop working out at the gym, or go back to eating sugar or bread after a detox or cleanse. Those all easily set you up to FAIL, no matter how much you try.

One of the top reasons habits work is that they are on autopilot – you don’t have to give them much thought or energy.

They’re actions you take automatically every single day and can be small steps you take that lead you to bigger and better results.

In fact, research shows that right now, as many as 45% of the things you do each day are done out of HABIT. So time to Build Habits instead of Resolutions!

Here are some ideas of some Habits to start incorporating to work on every 3-4 weeks.

  • Exercise or Move for 15+ min (Walking is Great) 
  • Stand and Move more throughout the day.
  • Eat less Sugar and Processed Food.
  • Eat out Less weekly
  • Eat more BALANCED Whole Foods meals daily
  • Eat more Fruits and Vegetables Daily
  • Watch your portions and eat until Satisfied (Don’t Overeat or to Fullness)
  • Watch your Sodium Intake
  • HYDRATE-Drink at least 8 (8 oz) glasses of water 
  • Sleep for at least 7-8 hours every night
  • Practice 10-15 mins of Stress management + Mindset work: meditating, breathing exercises, journaling, self-care, etc. (Pick one & stick with it for 3-4 weeks!) 
  • Have 5-10 min of “ME” TIME 
  • Digital & Social Detox
  • Work on a Morning & Evening Routine
  • Be NICE to yourself and practice more self-talk and self-love (and that includes loving your body)
  • Start every day with a Positive thought.

Now, please DO NOT overhaul your life by doing all habits at once. The best and easiest ways to work on your habits and make them stick is to pick 1-3 and start slowly incorporating and working on them Consistently for 3-4 weeks so they can become a routine. 

Then, when you have them down as a normal routine, you can work on another habit.

Remember that consistency WINS the race, so even incorporating things in slowly and keep moving forward is far better than an all-or-nothing approach.



“Good habits once established are just as hard to break as bad habits, and bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow.” 

― Lucas Remmerswaal

What ONE Habit are you going to work on this week?

Unsure where to start with working on your Habits, Mindset, or Nutrition? Need help with your Fitness? Looking for Motivation and Accountability? I’ve got you COVERED!  I offer a FULL Holistic approach focusing on YOU AS A WHOLE, Mind-Body-Soul! 

Book a FREE 30-minute Breakthrough Call TODAY!





Set Intentions Not Resolutions

Let’s set Intentions, Not Resolutions, for January 1st!

Happy New Year! As we approach 2023 in a few days, we are always so eager to focus on Resolutions and Goals for the New Year, right?

BUT have you thought about this year setting Intentions instead of those Resolutions that are usually lackluster in a few months?

Don’t get me wrong, setting those Resolutions are not bad, but they are usually filled with all-or-nothing and drastic approaches that usually only last til February or March, leaving you feeling defeated.

Did you know that, in fact, research shows that only 10% of people successfully stick to their New Year’s resolutions?

So this year, focus on your intentions for 2023. Make a list and write them down this weekend.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SETTING INTENTIONS & RESOLUTIONS?

You hear before or after yoga practice to set an intention for the day, and yes, it can easily be thought of as a goal for the day.

Now, I know what you are thinking, what is the difference between a goal and intention? I thought they were the same thing a while back as well.

Setting an Intention focuses on the present and internal state of being, a feeling you want to achieve, and your relationship with yourself, setting more compassion with yourself. Like I want to feel happier, I want to feel heard at my company, I want to feel more at peace and not so anxious, I want to feel confident, or I want to Thrive and not just survive in my health. (1) (2)

Setting a Resolution can focus on the Negative, while intentions focus on the Positive. Like setting a Resolution I want to lose weight or be skinny, I want to make more money, etc. Setting Resolutions can end up focusing on what you lack, leading to issues within your mental health, but Intentions actually highlight what you have and a more positive aspect of thinking.

Unlike setting your resolution or goal, which can be accomplished sometime in the future, setting your intention is a state of being that can start the moment you decide to make it happen.

Other ways you can work on your intentions daily is also setting positive affirmations to say out loud to yourself or writing them down, or even practicing daily gratitude.

So how do you even start with setting your intention this weekend for the New Year? 

Think of those goals or resolutions you have been thinking of since October. 😉 Now, think of how you want to feel when you accomplish them. 

There you go; that is your Intention to set. Keep it somewhere you can view daily and make sure what you do or say each day aligns with those Intentions you are setting.

Remember, setting an intention is something you want to live by that you can carry with you throughout the year, which will help you reach those goals you want to set and have a feeling of enlightenment.  When you set an intention, you choose to live more mindfully and open to new outcomes.

And later, we will talk about those Habits & Mindsets to start working on at the beginning of 2023 instead of those drastic approaches and detoxes or cleanses that do not work on underly issues or set up structures for you not to fail and actually achieve your intentions and even goals for the year.

Let us know what your Intention is for 2023.

Not As Healthy As You Think

We all know some of the basics of staying healthy, like staying active and eating a healthy diet. But you may not be eating as healthy as you think. So, how Healthy is your diet, really?

Did you know that NEARLY 9 IN 10 PEOPLE THINK THEIR DIET IS HEALTHIER THAN IT REALLY IS? According to a new study, almost everyone thinks their diet is far healthier than it actually is. In fact, of the nearly 10,000 people researchers looked at, only 15 percent could accurately tell how healthy their diet was. Interestingly, those with the worst diets had the best idea of how unhealthy it was. (1)(2)

Researchers said the difference between the ideal healthy diet and what people were actually eating was typically a lack of whole grains, greens, legumes, seafood, and plant-based protein, and too much sodium and saturated fat. 

How can this be? Many people overestimate the quality and quantity of their food. They also are unsure what is actually healthy and what is claimed to be healthy.

So, what is actually considered a Healthy diet for most adults? Here are some helpful tips to ensure you are eating a healthy diet.

EAT DAILY

  • Fruits & Veggies: Consuming at least 4-5 servings of whole fruit and vegetables daily. Make sure to eat the RAINBOW because not one fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need.
  • Legumes: Consume up to 1 cup or less of legumes daily (like lentils and beans).
  • Healthy Fats: Consume healthy fats (like nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and avocado oil.) The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating around 20 % to 35 % of your total daily calories in the form of healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats. 
  • Whole Grains: Consume at least 6 oz of whole grains daily (like rolled oats, millet, barley, buckwheat, whole wheat, and brown rice).
  • Lean Protein: Consume a variety of protein foods such as seafood, lean meats and poultry, and eggs, including the legumes, nuts, and seeds from earlier.
  • Omega 3s: Eat more Omega 3s Fatty Acids. Consume Your body doesn’t produce fatty acids; researchers recommend that healthy people consume 500 milligrams of EPA plus DHA daily. Excellent sources are fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, sardines, atlantic mackerel, cod, herring, lake trout, tuna, oysters, seaweed, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
  • HYDRATE! Make sure you are consuming 8 glasses daily, or at least a minimum of 6 glasses. This includes fluids from water, beverages like teas and juice, and from food. BUT remember, you may need more water if you are working out or out in the heat. Bonus tip, eat more cucumbers, watermelon, celery, watercress, apples, tomatoes, peaches, zucchini, and lettuce as these foods are very high in water. Not to mention you will also get your fruit and veggies servings in as well.
  • AND STAY ACTIVE! Making sure you are being active with regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can be as simple as walking more or standing more and moving around. Did you know that a new study by Simon Fraser University reveals that sitting six to eight hours a day at a desk increases the risk of early death and heart disease? Researchers studied 100,000 people and found those who sit for more than eight hours a day have a 20% higher risk of early death and heart disease. (3)

REDUCE OR ELIMINATE

  • Reduce Sugar Consumption; start slowly reducing or eliminating sugars added to foods you buy, sugary drinks by the manufacturer, or specialty coffee drinks, cane juice, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit nectars, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, brown sugar, sucrose. As well as sugars naturally present in honey, maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates. Even though those are natural sugars and best to use, moderation and reduction is the key. Need help reducing sugar in your diet? I have a FREE 7-day Sugar detox that helps educate you on the hidden sugars you might be unaware of and will help you reduce cravings.
  • Less Processed Foods, Saturated Fats, and Trans-fats. Start reducing consumption of fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee, lard, baked and fried foods, and pre-packaged snacks and foods, such as frozen pizza, pies, cookies, biscuits, wafers, and cooking oils, spreads, and particular high-fat dairy foods. (4).
  • Reduce sodium consumption. Less than 5  g of salt (equivalent to about one teaspoon) per day (8).  Salt should be iodized. Be careful when consuming processed foods as they are high in sodium, ready-to-eat meals, processed meats (such as bacon, ham, and salami; cheese; and salty snacks), or from eating out.

Remember when eating to be more mindful of the quality of your food. Think to yourself, How close is it to a whole food?

The bottom line is to slowly start incorporating more of the foods you should eat daily and slowly reduce the ones to eliminate. This will help ease you into better healthy habits and able to make it a part of your daily routine.

6 Dimensions of Stress

Did you know that there are actually 6 dimensions of stress that can appear in your life? Yep, you read that right. SIX!

Stress can come out of nowhere when you least expect it, and when stress gets out of control, every time you make a move, it keeps smacking you down.

This is why it’s SO IMPORTANT to have a plan to manage stress before it manages you. 

Because when stress is in control, you feel out of control, and reaching your goals is tough. It can affect your sleep, recovery, appetite, hormones, relationships, performance, and so much more! Stress is cumulative like a snowball. One type of stressor can affect another, compounding, getting bigger, and picking up speed.

Since most of us deal with more than one kind of stress at a time, you can see how it adds up to take a toll on your health!

So what are the 6 dimensions of Stress? Here is a list to see how stress can appear in your life:

  1. Physical stress: bad night of sleep, being sick or an illness, injury, being dehydrated, calorie or nutrient deficient, overtraining, or hungry.
  2. Mental stress: rough day at work, too many decisions to make (decision fatigue), multitasking or task switching, anxiety, overwhelmed.
  3. Emotional stress: the feeling of guilt, grief, anger, hate, frustration, shame, fear, or mood disorders (such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Emotional stressors can be particularly challenging because we feel them in our body, mind, and soul. 
  4. Social stress: disagreements with others, feeling lonely, neglected, abandoned, harmed, harassed, bullied, lack of community, or rejected by others
  5. Existential stress: feeling hopeless, wondering what it all means, not feeling in control, identity transitions, or not meeting expectations. 
  6. Environmental stress: loud noises, unsafe surroundings, hot or cold temperatures, stuck in traffic, dark or light, disease or pandemic, chaos, climate change, and pollution or smells.

Creating a healthy lifestyle and habits can help you prevent and manage those stressors, so you can become more resilient and even stop stress from getting in the way of your life.

PLUS BONUS, the same steps that help you manage stress will also move you CLOSER to your health and wellness goals.

That means finding ways to:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Move your body during the day
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet 
  • Work on more recovery and self-care
  • Practice stress management techniques that work with you (meditation, prayer, journaling, yoga, pause more, breathing exercises, etc.)

Your challenge, if you accept, is to start focusing on the things you can control or have some control over. Slowly start implementing better healthy habits and mindset so that you can take back control of your life and not let stress control you. Go ahead and make yourself a PRIORITY Today!

Need help working on your healthy habits and mindset to reduce your stressors and improve your health and well-being? I can HELP! Book a FREE 15min call NOW to see how or ask away any questions you may have!

Knee-Friendly Foods

Whole Foods play a major role in a healthy diet, and they also contain nutrients that can help with knee pain.

It is important to beat inflammation wherever possible for optimal joint function. Inflammation is the primary source of cartilage breakdown.

Here is a list of whole foods and items to incorporate into a daily routine to help with knee pain or arthritis symptoms.

  • Legumes (Beans, Peas, & Peanut) Legumes, like Lentils, have anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, because collagen is a protein, the protein content of legumes is helpful in replenishing the collagen necessary to rebuild cartilage. (1)
  • Vitamin C Abundant Foods (Oranges or other citrus, kiwis, red peppers, kale, and strawberries) Vitamin C promotes the building of collagen, which is one of the primary components of cartilage.
  • Pomegranates-The pomegranate fruit is great for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Green Tea- Green tea has many health benefits. One thing is the compounds in green tea, like catechins and polyphenols, help with other conditions and may also be important in protecting and restoring cartilage.
  • Turmeric-This spice has long been used in herbal and traditional medicine and is also known for its anti-inflammatory.
  • Avocados- are high in anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat, and they are also a good source of Vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory effects. Eating a diet high in these compounds has been linked to a decreased risk of joint damage. (2)
  • Brown Rice- Brown rice may aid the body in the production of hyaluronic acid. This substance acts to lubricate joints and as a shock absorber.
  • Antioxidants (Berries, Grapes, Greens, Beets, etc) – Foods high in antioxidants help support the immune system and fight inflammation.
  • Vitamin A& K (Leafy Greens & Green Veggies)- is essential for bone and joint health. Foods high in Vitamin A & K help reduce inflammation and protect cells from free radical damage from attacking the joint.
  • Nuts (especially Brazil Nuts & Almonds) are excellent sources of magnesium which helps your body absorb hyaluronic acid from your food.
  • Omega 3 (Fish Oil , Fatty Fish like Salmon or Tuna, or Flaxseed, or Chia Seeds) Omega-3s help the body respond to inflammation by interfering with certain cells. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help stop inflammation before it damages the joints. View more foods that are High in Omega 3’s in my Omega 3 Blog
  • Cruciferous vegetables (Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, and Cauliflower)- These vegetables contain sulforaphane and glucosinate, which can block the inflammatory process and slow down cartilage damage.
  • STAY HYDRATED! Proper hydration can help reduce pain and protect your joints and muscles by keeping the cartilage soft and pliable. Dehydration pulls fluid out of your tissues, which causes overall body aches and pains. Make sure to drink a minimum of 64 oz of water (more if you are outside or exercising) and even hit more watermelon to keep you hydrated! 🍉

Yet another reason to make sure you are eating a healthy whole foods diet daily.

FOODS TO AVOID

Did you know that eating or drinking certain foods can make your knee pain worse, especially if you have inflammation or arthritis?

Eliminating certain foods and beverages may reduce symptom severity with inflammation, especially within people who suffer from arthritis, and will also improve their overall quality of life.

Here are foods to avoid that can worsen knee pain or arthritis:

  • Processed and Added Sugars. You know you need to reduce your sugar for many health problems and weight gain, but sugar can also trigger the release of cells that can increase inflammation.
  • Transfats and saturated fats. Transfats can be found easily in a lot of processed foods and fried foods, margarine, and shortening. Saturated fats can be found in red meats, full-fat dairy, butter, ice cream, cured meats, biscuits, and fatty meats. These fats can trigger inflammation and worsen knee pain, especially in arthritis.
  • Processed Meats and Red Meats. Research has shown that processed meats and red meats are linked to inflammation, which may increase arthritis symptoms.
  • Highly Processed Foods. Processed foods are contributors to many health issues and obesity, but they also have inflammatory ingredients, which may worsen arthritis symptoms. This applies to fast foods, chips, baked goods, sugary cereals, commercial baked goods and bread, candy, soft drinks, hot dogs, and frozen dinners.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol may worsen arthritis symptoms as it depletes your body water and nutrients, increasing inflammation, and it might also interact with pain-reducing medication. Try reducing consumption or avoiding it.
  • Omega 6 from Certain Vegetable Oils. A healthy diet has essential fatty acids of Omega 3 & 6, but there are a few Omega 6 you might want to avoid with knee pain and arthritis corn, canola, and sunflower oils as they might boost the production of inflammatory chemicals and may worsen symptoms. (1)
  • High Salt Foods. We discussed why you should hydrate to protect your knees; consuming too much salt can worsen joint swelling. (2)

As you see, most of the foods above to avoid are also on a list of items you should reduce in a healthy diet.

If you eat a lot of the foods above, don’t try eliminating them all at once, try slowly reducing consumption at first, and then slowly eliminate them.

The bottom line is if you have arthritis or knee pain, a healthy diet and lifestyle may help improve your symptoms and help improve the quality of your life.

Looking to knock out knee pain and gain mobility? Sign up for my 21-Day Knee Pain Solution program!

Knee-Friendly Exercises

We all have experienced some knee pain or injury at one point in our life or are experiencing arthritis are our knees.

Did you know that your knees absorb a huge amount of pressure and weight with every step, which is typically one-and-a-half times your body weight? Wow, your knees are the biggest and strongest joints in your body. 

Our knees are the one body part that doesn’t get any love (let’s face they are not pretty) and the one we abuse the most even with our daily routines like walking, going upstairs, carrying heavy items….then throw in overuse, running/jogging, lifting heavy, doing HIIT with jumping, and not strengthen muscles around nor working on flexibility moves.

Let’s talk more about the many options of low-impact knee-friendly cardiovascular exercises to keep you active.

Many people suffering from knee pain may not be exercising properly or not exercising at all. 

When you have a knee injury or arthritis, many people have an assumption that doing knee-friendly low-impact exercises will not give them a fat-burning or a high-intensity cardio workout. This way of thinking discourages people from working out altogether and is likely to cause further injury.

The truth of the matter is you can find a number of ways to get a good cardio workout without causing additional pain or damage to your knees. This will keep you active and healthy and help you keep reaching your goals.

  1. Walking. Walking is an easy and free form of aerobic exercise you can perform daily. Just walking for 20-30 minutes a day can offer numerous health benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels. If you wish to advance your walking, try walking a little fast and pumping your hands back and forth. Always make sure that you wear shoes that give you good support and that are not expired past their mileage. Also, do not forget to stretch before beginning your walk and after. Want to read more about all the great benefits of just walking? Read more on my blog, Walking into Surprising Benefits
  2. Recumbent Bike Using a recumbent bike is nicer on the knees since it takes weight load off as you are sitting and at a better angle for petaling than a regular bike or spin bike. These bikes are more stable and comfortable, so they’re a better option for people with balance or mobility issues. They also strengthen the muscles without strain on your knee.
  3. Swimming or Pool Exercises like Water Aerobics. Swimming is actually one of the best forms of exercise for people with knee problems. You can burn a lot of calories quickly and work all of your muscles at once as well. Just be sure to avoid kicks that place stress on your knees, and don’t push off from the wall. Try also walking in the water, freestyle or the backstroke, or water aerobic class.
  4. Elliptical Machine. When you are at the gym, go for the Ellipticals. You can burn the same amount of calories on an elliptical machine as if jogging but with far less impact. Since your feet remain on the pedals, you’re far less likely to injure yourself. You’ll also get your heart rate up, making you work up a sweat! (1)

What to AVOID: running, jogging, jumping, stair climbing, walking up on high inclines, kickboxing, and high-impact aerobics.

As you can see, you do have options to get in a good cardio workout and work up in that fat-burning zone. Knee pain is challenging for anyone to endure, but with modifications, you can tailor workouts to your body’s needs.

What cardio exercises do you perform when you have knee pain?

Knee-Friendly Strength Training

We talked about knee-friendly cardio exercises, now, let’s talk about a few knee-friendly strength exercises you can do in your weekly routine.

Why should I strength train if I have knee pain or arthritis? I know that is what you are thinking, but strength training can enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Strength training can also protect your joints from injury and build the muscles around your knee for support. Building muscle also can contribute to better balance and may reduce your risk of falls. This can help you maintain independence as you age.

AND girls, the more muscle you gain, the more calories you burn at rest….not to mention it transforms your body in a good way. 😉

I know you are worried that working out could cause more knee damage or pain, right? As long as you get the clearance from your doctor, then you are good to go. Besides, the best thing you can do is to strengthen the muscles that support your knee and keep them lubricated and flexible. 

Just make sure you start slowly and build up over time. Try starting bodyweight first and always stop if you feel uncomfortable or in pain.

Below are exercises you can start trying in lieu of squats or lunges.

Warm-up.

Always warm-up 1st for 3min. This can be walking, cycling, or doing dynamic stretches like leg swings, arm hugs, windmills, etc.

Below are a few lower body exercises that will help you work the all-important knee-supporting muscles in a low-impact way.

  1. Wall Sit. Start with your back against a wall with your feet shoulder-width and about 2 feet from the wall. Make sure to engage your abs and slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground or you feel comfortable. You do not have to go down too far. Do make sure your knees are not going over your toes. Hold for 10, 20, or 30 secs.
  2. Dumbell, Mini Band, or Bodyweight Deadlift. Stand and hold two dumbbells with palms facing in. Keep your back straight and knees softened, not locked; hip hinge bending your body at your waist and lower down to the floor with weights in front of you. If down bodyweight, place your hand in front and touch the floor or put your hands lightly behind your head. Then straighten up while still holding the dumbbells at arm’s length. Make sure you are not doing a squat (keep legs straight with a soft bend). *You can also use a mini-band by the one end under your feet and grab the other end with your hands coming up and back.
  3. Mini Band Moster Walk. Start by placing mini bands around your calves or above ankles on both feet. Soften your knees, and step one foot out to the side, then slowly step your opposite foot in the same direction. Keep an upright posture and try to avoid dragging your feet. And Repeat on the other side.
  4. Glute Bridge. Lie on your back. 2) Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the floor as high as you can go. Keep your tummy tight throughout and then slowly lower. To focus more on the glutes, then your toes off the floor and have only heels on the floor. You can also advance this move by doing single-leg going up at a time.
  5. Glute Kickbacks standing. Stand up and grab the wall or chair for support and keep your body and back straight Slowly kick one leg back out, keeping your glute engaged, and then slowly lower your leg back at starting position. Try not to lean back or forward. To advance this move, add a mini band above your ankles.
  6. Lying leg raise. Get on the floor, lying down on a mat with your back flat on the ground and your legs extended in front of you. Keep your core engaged, especially when you’re lifting your feet up off the floor but also while they’re returning and getting close to the ground again. Place your hands on your sides with your palms down. As you keep your legs extended, straight as possible, raise your legs until they make a 90-degree angle with the floor. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement and hold the contraction at the top for a second. As you inhale, slowly lower your legs back down to the starting position. You can also do this single leg instead of both.
  7. Lying Hip Abduction. Lay down on your side with your elbow supporting your head and your feet out straight. Then slowly raise the top leg- foot up towards the ceiling, without rocking your body forwards or backward, and then come back down.
  8. Dumbell or Bodyweight Calf Raises. Stand up straight with a soft bend in the knees, then push through the balls of your feet and raise your heel until you are standing on your toes. Then lower slowly back to the start. You can do this off the floor or from the bottom of the stairs.
  9. Dumbell Farmers Walk. Stand upright, holding dumbbells with your arms straight by your sides. Then walk forward as far as you can while holding the dumbbell for a given distance, typically 50-100 feet, as fast as possible and then back to starting position.
  10. Foam Roller Or Pillow Leg Extension. Lay down on the floor with a foam roller, firm pillow, or rolled-up towel placed under your knee. Then lift your leg up and lower back down. Make sure that your leg from knee to hip is not moving, only your leg from your knee to ankles is moving up. It is s slight movement.

And of course, you can perform a large variety of upper body exercises standing or sitting, and core exercises with no problem.

What to AVOID with knee injuries, pain, or arthritis: squats (especially weighted), lunges, machine leg extensions, and any jumping HIIT exercise.

*Make sure always to stretch afterward AND incorporate a day just as a stretching day.

*As always, it is important to get clearance from your doctor or physical therapist for any kind of physical activity

Looking to knock out knee pain and gain mobility? Sign up for my 21-Day Knee Pain Solution program!

Breathing into Positive Benefits

We all know breathing is important, but did you know there are many positive health benefits to breathing deeply and slowly?

Breathing is probably something you don’t think about much. We breathe about 22,000-25,000 times a day. Our bodies are powered by breathing. Your lungs fuel your body with oxygen, which is our body’s life-sustaining gas. The job of our lungs is to breathe in air, then remove the oxygen and pass it through our bloodstream, where it’s carried off to the tissues and organs that allow us to walk, talk, and move (1)

But I bet you didn’t realize that you actually hold your breath involuntarily at times throughout the day or week? Start trying to be mindful more of your breathing and see when you might hold your breath at times during the day. It could be from concentrating hard, stressed or mad. Now pay attention to your natural breathing. Is it shallow, erratic, or irregular? Paying more attention to how you’re breathing can make a big impact on your stress levels.

Step in Breathing Practices. Focusing on practicing deep breathing or breathing exercises and/or meditation daily can help you feel calmer, centered, focused, and less anxious or irritable.

You might be surprised that it can even help reduce blood pressure. Ever notice if you are at a doctor’s office, your blood pressure might be higher than normal due to stress or anxiety of being there? Try doing some deep breathing exercises while waiting in the doctor’s office or before, as this will help control your blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, blood vessel tension, and the “fight-or-flight” response in stressful situations (2)

When you start practicing meditation breathing, it can help quiet the busy mind and also helps when your brain gets stuck in an unproductive thought loop and helps lengthens your attention span.

And it’s also a great tool for becoming more RESILIENT and enhances self-awareness which helps you become stronger and grow as a person along with being able to roll with life’s changes without skipping a beat.

This is something I practice with my clients a lot by incorporating meditation breathing or having them focus on breathing exercises while we are working on their mindset and healthy habits. 

There are a lot of breathing exercises and meditations you can practice, but the two most popular is to do deep breathing or body scans. These two are SIMPLE and nothing too out there. 

Your challenge is to try a breathing exercise or meditation EVERY DAY.

BASIC BREATHING MEDITATION

  • Sit comfortably on a stable surface – inside or outside. Even lay down if you feel more comfortable.
  • Relax your body to release any tension you are feeling.
  • Let your hands drop naturally to your lap and relax/soften your shoulders.
  • Drop your chin slightly and close your eyes.
  • Clear your mind of any racing thoughts, todos or worries, and just focus on your breath and the here and now.
  • Inhale S-L-O-W-L-Y through your nose for 4 counts. 
  • HOLD your breath for 4 counts. 
  • Exhale S-L-O-W-L-Y through your nose for 4 counts. (your mouth should be closed or slightly open)
  • Hold your breath for 4 counts.
  • Continue for a total of 4 TIMES through, focusing on your breath.

You can go a little more deeply into the breathing by switching up and practicing alternate nostril breathing, coherent breathing, lion breathing, tapping, and much more.

BODY SCAN MEDITATION

  • Sit comfortably on a stable surface – inside or outside. Even lay down if you feel more comfortable.
  • Relax your body to release any tension you are feeling.
  • Let your hands drop naturally to your lap and relax/soften your shoulders.
  • Drop your chin slightly and close your eyes.
  • Clear your mind of any racing thoughts, todos or worries, and just focus on your breath and the here and now.
  • Focus on your breathing. Notice the sensation of your breath filling and leaving your lungs as you inhale and exhale. Notice how you are breathing
  • Now move your attention to whatever part of the body you want to investigate. You can start scanning your body from bottom to top or wherever you might want to start.
  • Scan your entire body. Open your awareness to sensations of pain, tension, discomfort, or anything out of the ordinary.
  • If you notice your thoughts bouncing or wandering around, just let them pass and don’t hang on to them. And return your focus to your breathing.
  • As you are scanning, notice how you feel and where you might be holding your stress. If there’s any tightness, pain, or pressure, continue to breathe into any tension you’re feeling. This can help you release tension in your body now and also be more aware of it in the future 
  • Focus on that spot you are feeling stress, pain, or tension, and then visualize the pain, stress, discomfort, or tension leaving your body through your breath and evaporating into the air.
  • Move on when you feel ready to the next spot.
  • After you have scanned your entire body, continue with a few full deep breaths in and out. And relax your entire body.
  • Slowly release your focus and bring your attention back to your surroundings

You can find many great guided meditations to help you with your practice that are Free or low cost with many types to try. I also have meditations within my Wellness app I use in my Holistic Wellness coaching.

If you’re having a hard time getting into the meditation zone or sitting still practicing breathing, try doing a walking meditation. This is something I do and call my walking therapy.

Wear comfy shoes & leave your phone if you can.

Here’s how to do it:

Start walking at a comfortable pace, it doesn’t have to be a race. As you are walking, try doing the followings:

  • Spend 1 minute focusing on the feeling of your body moving
  • Take in a deep breath in and out.
  • Then 1 minute focusing on the air, wind, and sunlight on your skin. How great it feels
  • Take in a deep breath in and out.
  • Then 1 minute focusing on what you hear (birding chirping, etc)
  • Take in a deep breath in and out.
  • Then 1 minute focusing on what you see (explore the scenery and nature)
  • Take in a deep breath in and out.

The idea is to focus on very specific things so that you’re not focusing on your thoughts and instead on what you are doing and experiencing. This helps you be more mindful and able just to PAUSE.

Bottomline is that focusing on your breathing by doing breathing exercises or meditation breathing can improve your mental, physical, and emotional health. It only takes a few minutes out of your day to reap the amazing benefits.

If you feel like you need help improving your mindset or healthy habits, I can HELP! Book a FREE Success Call TODAY to find out more or ask any questions!

Iron Boosting Plant foods

Are you incorporating iron boosting plant foods into your diet? Did you know that there are many other foods you can eat besides meat or other animal products that are high in iron?

As a plant-eater myself, I get asked many times how do you get your iron intake?

Believe it or not, there are tons of delicious iron-rich plant foods that you can incorporate when eating a balanced whole foods diet.

We all know that Iron is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in many bodily functions, but how much Iron should we consume? The recommended daily value (%DV) for iron is 18mg per day. Most adults only need 8-18mg, women, during pregnancy, iron needs increase to 27 mg daily. However, plant-based eaters should aim to consume 15-32mg per day due to nonheme iron is not as easily absorbed (1) AND besides plant-based eaters need more iron daily, and so do Athletes, even more, if you are a Woman Athlete. WHY? It is because iron is lost through sweat, skin, urine, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and menstruation. Did you know that Workouts or Exercise, particularly high intensity (HIIT) and Endurance types, increase the loss of iron by as much as 70% when compared to sedentary populations? (2)

Below is a helpful list of plant foods you can incorporate into eating to boost your daily iron intake.

  • Tofu, Tempeh, or Soybeans – Soybeans and foods derived from soybeans like tofu and tempeh are packed with iron. Soybeans contain around 8.8 mg of it per cup or 49% of the RDI. Tofu and tempeh offer 3–3.6 mg of iron for 6oz.
  • Lentils & Legumes – Lentils are great iron-rich food, providing 6.6 mg per cup cooked, or 37% of the RDI. Other legumes that are a good source of iron are white, lima, red kidney, black, and navy beans contain 4.4–6.6 mg of iron per cup cooked.
  • Green Peas and other Peas – Besides green peas containing 2.46 mg of iron per cup, black-eyed peas and chickpeas have the highest iron content than legumes around 4.6–5.2 mg per cup cooked. 
  • Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame, Flaxseed, or Hempseeds are the seeds richest in iron, containing around 1.2–4.2 mg per two tablespoons.
  • Pistachios have 4.8 mg of iron per cup and are a perfect snack.
  • Nuts are another great contain source of iron, especially when eaten raw. Nuts like cashews, almonds, pine nuts, and macadamia between 1–1.6 mg of iron per ounce, or around 6–9% of the RDI
  • Dried Apricots, Dates, or Prunes– Did you know that dried fruits contain more iron than fresh fruits? Why is that? It’s because dried fruits are more concentrated. Dried fruits can range from 2.3mg-4.79mg of iron in 100 grams servings.
  • Dark leafy greens – Dandelion, collard, kale, spinach, and swiss chard offer 3-6 mg of iron per 150 g serving. Try mixing it with other leafy greens to boost the iron content of a salad even higher.
  • Brussels sprouts– This amazing cruciferous vegetables offer 2.13 mg of iron per 150 g serving and are also high in calcium.
  • Potatoes contain significant amounts of iron, which can be mostly found in their skins. A white potato contains 3.2 mg of iron per 1 unpeeled serving. Sweet potatoes contain a little less, around 2.1 mg per 1 unpeeled serving.
  • Mushrooms -Mushrooms are a good source of iron, especially Oyster, Button, or Chanterelle mushrooms. Ranging from 2.7-4.9mg of iron per 100g serving.
  • Palm Hearts & Artichokes- Looking for a way to boost your salads for an iron-rich meal? Try adding palm heart or artichokes to your next salad for lunch to dinner packing at 1.8-2.7 mg of iron per 100g serving.
  • Olives contain a variety of beneficial plant compounds thought to provide several health benefits and also contain around 3.3 mg of iron per 100 grams.
  • Beets, Beetroot Juice, & Beet Greens. One cup of cooked beets contains around 1.4 mg of iron. While this might not seem like a lot, beets are actually a wonderful source of this essential mineral. They also contain a good amount of vitamin C, which helps your body absorb iron, so it’s even more beneficial.
  • Canned Tomatoes, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, & Tomato paste- Canned tomatoes contain 1.57 mg of iron per 1/2 cup, and a 1/2 cup of tomato paste offers 3.9 mg of iron. Sun-dried tomatoes offer you 1.3–2.5 mg per 1/2 cup. However, raw tomatoes contain less iron than canned or sun-dried at 0.5 mg iron per 1/2 cup. Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, which helps increase iron absorption.
  • Oats, Quinoa, Amaranth- These whole grains are a great source of iron ranging from 2.8-5.4 mg of iron per cup cooked.
  • Spirulina (Dried Seaweed) is a blue-green algae and not only is it a potent source of nutrients and health benefits but a great source of iron adding up to 2mg per tablespoon.
  • Dulse-Dulse– is a sea vegetable and is one of the richest plant sources of iron. You will find more iron in 8g of Dulse than in 100g of raw sirloin steak 
  • Dark Chocolate– We all know dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate due to its antioxidants but it is also high in iron containing 3.3 mg per ounce.
  • Blackstrap molasses-not only is molasses great for baking amazing gingerbread, ginger snaps, or molasses cookies, but it is high in nutrients including iron. It contains around 1.8 mg of iron per two tablespoons.

You can increase your absorption of iron in meals by combining them with foods that are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C will increase the absorption of non-heme iron (plant foods) by as much as 85%. Good sources of vitamin C include peppers, parsley, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruits, acerola cherries, blackcurrants, oranges, strawberries, pineapple, grapefruit, and orange juice.

It is an important note to try to reduce drinking caffeine while eating meals as it can reduce iron absorption by 50-90% (3)

Bottom line, besides being a good source of iron, the plant foods listed in this article also happen to contain a variety of other nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. Another reason to make sure you are eating your daily intake of fruits and vegetables is I know many people struggle to get in their recommended intake.

This is a reason to make sure you are eating a balanced whole foods diet of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats in your diet that incorporate iron-rich foods to help you meet your iron requirements but will also likely benefit your overall health.

Please note, before taking iron supplements or if you feel like you do not get enough iron, believe you may be iron deficient or have a history of iron deficiency, always consult with a physician or medicinal professional about strategies for addressing the problem or if you are making changes to your diet.