Healthy Cove

MINDFUL LIVING IS HEALTHY LIVING

Describing mindfulness can be hard. So, let’s do a little thought experiment and try some mindful living for a minute.

Imagine you’re walking through a city, enjoying the fresh air, and delighting in the bustle and energy of the streets. You take a seat on a bench near a busy intersection, safely tucked away from traffic. You’re happy to rest for a moment and take in the sights and sounds. What goes through your mind as you witness the traffic?

You might notice the make, model, and color of each car that passes. Perhaps you take note of how fast a particular car whooshes by. Maybe you see another car run a red light. You allow yourself to observe these visual cues and understand them as information, without the need to interpret them as good, bad, wrong, or right.

This basic analogy is what many practitioners use to describe mindfulness. Let’s unpack it to dig deeper into this important, but elusive concept.

What is Mindfulness?

If you imagine the busy street as your brain, then the different cars represent your thoughts. They could be about your worries, fears, or stressors. They might represent your hopes, wishes, and desires. People in your life may populate your thoughts. All those thoughts are cars traveling on the street of your brain.

Mindfulness is immersing yourself in that moment-to-moment awareness, free of judgment. It allows for these thoughts to enter your mind, move through, and disappear without wreaking havoc. That means as you think of a worry, hope, or person, you do so without judging yourself for thinking about it.

An example of mindful living might help clarify things. You feel worried about missing an impending deadline. Mindfulness would suggest that you acknowledge the deadline and your body’s reaction to it with a bit of emotional distance.

Most people don’t practice this detachment. That allows negative thoughts to loop. If the loop continues uninterrupted, the result can be anxiety, stress, worry, and preoccupation. But, if you aim to witness your thoughts in the same way you would a harmless car driving safely by you, you’re likely to avoid those negative pitfalls. Additionally, allowing a bit of space from emotions provides clarity of mind and mental focus.

Mindfulness is about staying in the present. So, returning to the car metaphor, mindfulness is not craning your neck to see if the car that passed will turn off the road up ahead. It is also not turning to see how far traffic has backed up. When you’re simply observing each car as it enters and exits your field of view, you’re practicing mindfulness.

The Benefits of Mindfulness

As the modern world continues to blaze by, many are turning to mindfulness to slow life down. The recent growth in the popularity of mindfulness has created a call for research to investigate the benefits of more mindful living.

Practitioners have long claimed many benefits for mindfulness. Among them are stress reduction, less emotional reactivity, freedom from rumination, mental focus, and relationship satisfaction.

Researchers have started to test these hypotheses. They do it by assigning study participants to a mindfulness-based intervention or a control group. Then researchers take various measurements to determine the effects of each intervention.

In one investigation, researchers looked at nearly 40 studies that include mindfulness-based interventions. They found mindfulness programs helped reduce stress, anxiety, and depression in patients with psychiatric disorders. In certain studies, they also concluded that mindfulness practice, paired with traditional therapy, is effective in preventing relapse into depression for certain patients.

Another study has shown promising results for regular practice of mindfulness through meditation. In this particular case, participants learned how to meditate over a two-month period. Researchers took images of participants’ brains before and after the program and found changes in the amygdala, an area of the brain responsible for emotional processing. The scan showed that the amygdala was less active after meditation. Then participants were shown emotionally charged images and the same brain scan was repeated. Comparing pre-meditation scans to those taken after viewing emotional images revealed something interesting.

Researchers saw that the decrease in activity of the amygdala held, even when the participants weren’t actively meditating. This finding is promising, as it shows that the benefits—in this case, less emotional reactivity—are long-lasting, even when meditation or mindfulness is not being actively employed.

Another group of researchers studied attendees of an intensive mindfulness retreat. After the 10-day retreat, the participants, experienced less rumination—when compared to a control group who didn’t attend the retreat. The retreat group also exhibited better attention and focus when assigned to a performance task.

It’s not uncommon to hear about a new trend from a friend and be skeptical. Even if your friend shares a personal, compelling anecdote, it may feel too good to be true. But when the trend in question is mindfulness or mindful meditation, the jury’s no longer out. Science shows that health benefits of mindfulness do exist. So, hesitate no longer and hop on the bandwagon.

Tips for Mindful Living Every Day

  • Slow down. It’s easy to move through life on autopilot, going through the motions without consciously connecting with each action, decision, or person you encounter. One trick is to think about the transitions throughout your day and how you can move through them more slowly and intentionally. This could be the moment after you wake up and before you get out of bed. Maybe it’s the moment after you finish one work task and start the next. When these transitions are rushed, it divorces your mind from your body, turning autopilot back on. In these transitional moments, pause to breathe and check in with your mind and body. This will give you a chance to collect your thoughts and ready yourself for whatever comes next.
  • Use all of your senses. Mindfulness doesn’t just have to be turned on when life gets stressful. Tuning into your body and all of its sensations can help you stay engaged in mindfulness. Listening, seeing, tasting, touching, and hearing fully can help you stay grounded in each moment. With this mindset, an ordinary task can turn into a sensory experience. For example, take gardening. What does the soil feel like? Does this new sprout have a smell? Consider the vibrancy of the colors throughout the plant. If it bears fruit, what does it taste like? What sounds do you hear as you’re outside tending to the garden? When you stay in the moment and ask yourself these questions, it’s nearly impossible to ruminate on the past or worry about the future.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Start by jotting down three things you were grateful for each day. This practice will encourage you to slow down and reflect on your day. Consider why you’re grateful for each list item, how they make you feel, and how they add to your life. Journaling can help you curate a more positive outlook and perspective. If this resonates with you, create longer lists or expand each entry.
  • Focus on brain health. Mindfulness is all in your head—focusing your brain on the present and striving for non-judgment. So, it’s also a time to think about supporting your brain. That means eating foods rich in B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, antioxidants, and vitamin E. And your brain also has to be exercised to keep it in tip-top shape. Practice being mindful about using your brain each day. You can do that by playing a musical instrument, taking classes (anything from cooking to math), learning a new language, memory games, playing a new sport, and more.
  • Practice self-compassion. Non-judgment is the key to mindfulness. But requiring your mind to be present and non-judgmental can feel like a tall order. You may not do it successfully every time. And that’s OK. Be forgiving and kind to yourself. It’s the best way to ensure you’ll come back to the present and continue forward.

Another Taste: Eating Mindfully

In the modern world of busy schedules, traffic, and technology, it’s hard to find time to focus on eating well. When time is short, meals are often the first thing to take a hit. It means a meal might start in a drive-through lane and finish while you’re driving. Or perhaps it’s a plate of leftovers quickly reheated in the microwave and eaten standing up.

Not giving yourself moments to slow down and eat in peace will only add to the rushed pace of the day. And unsurprisingly, the result might leave you feeling stressed, anxious, and with an upset stomach.

When you take the alternative approach and choose to eat with dedicated intention, you unlock more opportunities to practice mindfulness. It doesn’t matter whether you make a meal from scratch or you pick up one that’s prepared. Eating mindfully calls on all of your senses, bringing you into the present.

What does it smell like? Does the aroma transport you to another place or memory? If you’re eating with your fingers, what does it feel like? Is it soft, crumbly, or flaky? What does it feel like once you put a morsel in your mouth? Does it melt, dissolve, or bubble? What does the food taste like? Does it make your mouth pucker or hit your sweet tooth?

Engaging all of your senses requires that you take your time and tune into each sensation. This behavior makes for a more enjoyable, relaxed meal. An added benefit is that eating slowly will allow you to sense when you’re full more quickly. This means you’re less likely to overeat unintentionally. That’s a bonus whether you’re trying to lose, gain, or maintain your weight.

Paying attention to the general feel and feedback from your whole body will help you remain in touch with what your body needs and when. When did you last eat? How does your body feel? What cues is it giving you and what are they saying? Remember that your body knows best. It only asks you to listen to its cues.

Make Mindfulness Your Mantra

Mindfulness requires a subtle shift in how you move throughout your day. While the change is seemingly small, the impact can be large. Being mindful allows your body and mind to let go of stress, negative thought patterns, and associated behaviors.

When you toss aside those patterns and distractions, you liberate yourself. You’re likely to find more creativity, productivity, and energy. By committing even a few moments a day to mindfulness, you start a habit that sets you up for a healthier day and overall lifestyle.

Healthy Cove

NO WINTER BLUES WITH USANA® MAGNECAL D™

For those in the northern hemisphere, the winter season brings shorter days with dark mornings, darker evenings, and for many, symptoms of winter blues. With less time for sunrays, we typically spend more time indoors, finding refuge in the comfort of Netflix and family.

Winter blues strike many of us, especially in the later months of the season, and can mark changes in mood and energy. While feelings of “blah” are often experienced during dismal winter months, you don’t have to succumb to the atmosphere. Low energy levels could stem from deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals often depleted by the onslaught of a feeling of stress, poor nutritional choices, and the ever-waning hours of UV light.

Support Winter Health with Supplementation

A healthy lifestyle including a clean diet, consistent sleep habits, stress management, regular exercise, and self-care can go a long way to help manage your overall well-being. But if you can’t get healthy levels of essential vitamins and minerals naturally, especially during the dark months of winter, supplementation can be beneficial to bolster your health while you wait for the brighter, sun-loving months ahead.*

Minerals and Their Role in Winter Health

Minerals must be present in the body to achieve healthy cellular metabolism, the biochemical reactions that fuel the daily operations of a cell and maintain life.  They build the structure of the body from the bones outward—you quite literally need them to live.*

Calcium, a commonly mentioned macromineral, is the most abundant mineral in the body. It’s found mainly in your teeth and bones. About 99 percent of calcium exists in your skeletal system. In the past, calcium has been widely portrayed as the key nutrient for bone health. And while it’s integral to build and maintain a healthy skeletal structure, this elemental mineral is only one player in a team of minerals that account for healthy bones and work to execute vital physiological processes throughout the body.*

Magnesium is another abundant mineral, a heavy hitter on the cellular level, that aids in many of our internal physiological functions. It’s an essential component that triggers over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Despite this important role, most people don’t get enough of it.*

One of magnesium’s most important operations in the body, other than to help maintain bone density and healthy insulin function, is energy production. Converting the foods you eat into a usable form of cellular energy requires adequate levels of this important mineral. The body needs a large amount of this essential macronutrient to carry out these numerous functions throughout the body. Supplementation is a great option to promote optimal health.*

Vitamin D’s Role to Resist the Shorter Day Gloom

Vitamins, as we all know, are an essential part of our diet. They are vital to create important chemical reactions on a cellular level. Perhaps you’ve heard vitamin D referred to as “the sunshine vitamin”. This happy vitamin is as crucial to our health as it is our psyche.*

Occurring naturally when your skin is exposed to the sun, vitamin D signals a reaction to a “preform” of the vitamin that exists in the skin’s epidermis. So, when you’re exposed to the sun’s powerful UVB rays, the body goes to work producing vitamin D3. *

Vitamin D has many benefits, including bone health, immunity support, mood support, maintains blood pressure already in the normal range, and supports muscle strength. It’s true your body can create vitamin D naturally, but for those who live far from the equator, we often fall below adequate levels in the winter months.*

USANA® MagneCal D™ for a Brighter Season

Stress and poor dietary choices, hurdles we all face throughout the holidays, often hinder our pursuit for a healthy lifestyle. Optimal sleep, clean nutrition, and less sun heightens our risk to become deficient in vitamins and nutrients necessary to help us push through seasonal slumps. For example, without the proper levels of magnesium and calcium, the body begins to borrow from the skeletal system­—a process called resorption. This natural process ensures you maintain the required level of these minerals to function. However, over time, mineral levels in the blood and in your bones can be negatively affected.*

USANA® MagneCal D™ combines an ideal ratio of 1:1 magnesium to calcium with the added boost of vitamin D. This smart combination provides the following benefits:

  • Strong, mineral-rich bones and teeth*
  • Healthy muscle and nerve function*
  • Energy metabolism*
  • Cardiovascular health*

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Ideally, we’d like to rely solely on our diet to provide appropriate levels of essential vitamins and minerals. But the truth is, most of us don’t regularly consume adequate levels because of the poor nutritional choices we make. Magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D, in combination, make up an important foundation for health. And MagneCal D is one small part of whole-body health. If you don’t have a scientist in the house, read more about the benefits of MagneCal D to help balance your mood, increase your energy levels, and support cardiovascular and bone health.*

East Coast Life Solutions product partners with USANA Health Sciences.  We are passionate health influencers who want you to make self-care a habit. 

 

*THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.
ECLS Energy

7 FOODS TO ENERGIZE YOUR DAY

There’s nothing quite as invigorating as the start of a brand new day. You’re full of energy, motivation, and spark, and you just can’t wait to charge out into the world and make life happen. But, even for the best for us, that energy can wear off as the day chugs along. Before you know it, you’re dragging from one task to the next and desperate for a midday nap.

Lucky for you, we’ve devised a short list of some great foods and recipes to keep your energy sustained throughout the day. Check them out below and give the recipes a try.

1. Quinoa

7 Foods to Energize Your Day: Quinoa

Plain white rice and breads can cause blood-sugar crashes that can leave you feeling drained halfway through your day and needing to eat. Choose quinoa instead. It’s a gluten-free, low-glycemic grain that breaks down more slowly to give you a steadier dose of energy.

And quinoa is very versatile. Just take a look at all these great recipes involving this super grain.

2. Lentils

7 Foods to Energize Your Day: Lentils

Lentils may be tiny, but when it comes to steady energy, they are mighty. Their high fiber content slows your body’s process of turning carbohydrates into the glucose for fuel. This means they’ll give you a slow, but steadier, supply of energy for much longer than other carb-loaded foods.

Check out this delicious and healthy lentil chili recipe.

3. Bananas

Bananas that are still somewhat green are a lower-glycemic source of carbohydrates and natural sugars called fructose. Both fuel your body and brain to give you energy. Bananas also contain tyrosine, an amino acid that—according to recent studies—can promote energy, alertness, and motivation.  

7 Foods to Energize Your Day: Bananas

Best of all, bananas are easy to carry wherever you go. They literally come with their own natural, protective packaging. So stash a few in your purse or backpack and you’re good to go.

 

4. Fatty Fish

7 Foods to Energize Your Day: Fatty fish

It’s clear as water that fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are great sources of protein and omega-3s. But they also provide vitamin B12, which works with folic acid to produce red and white blood cells. Maintaining optimal levels of red blood cells in your body supports healthy energy metabolism.

To check out some healthy salmon recipes, click here.

5. Sweet Potatoes

One medium-sized sweet potato contains up to 23 grams of carbohydrates and 3.8 grams of fiber. This dynamic duo provides you with a steady supply of energy. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of manganese, which helps your body produce energy.

Here’s a simple, but tasty, recipe for baked sweet potatoes that’s a perfect addition to any meal.

6. Eggs

7 Foods to Energize Your Day: Eggs

This eggscelent source of protein and iron can also help keep your body running all day. Protein itself gives you a steadier source of energy without causing spikes in blood sugar or insulin. Eggs also contain choline, a B-vitamin to help with energy production.

Take a look at these recipes and start your day with a protein-boosted kick.

 7. Water

It’s clearly not a food, but water is the building block of life. Not drinking enough water or getting enough through foods can lead to dehydration—slowing down your body functions, making you feel weak and lethargic. Practice healthy hydration by making sure you drink plenty of water.

Now you know the ideal foods to help you through that infamous midday slump. But if you want a little more info on what foods to avoid, just ask the scientists.

Healthy Cove

Clean Eating for Energy

Elevate Your Cells with Clean Eating

Clean Eating: Sleepy We all have those tired moments when we could use a little extra oomph. It’s 3:00 p.m., an important project is due, and the motivation to rally through is lacking. Many people turn to coffee, energy drinks, candy bars, and other quick fixes to push them through the afternoon lull. But these “solutions” can have serious side effects: caffeine too late in the day means restlessness at night, added sugars cause a sharp rise and fall in blood sugar levels; many energy drinks have a laundry list of artificial ingredients. You may feel a boost of energy initially but will ultimately be worse off than if you hadn’t eaten that Snickers at all (no offense, Snickers lovers; I’m right there with you).

 

So, what’s the best way to get your fix? The most effective way to address a lack of energy is to prevent the problem in the first place. Shoot for the long term, creating consistent energy through proper nutrition. Conscious (or goal-oriented) grocery shopping/eating and utilizing supplements to make up for deficiencies will super-charge your cells. There are also several options for a quick boost that are healthier and more natural than the ones listed above. Read on to learn more about using clean nutrition for energy.

Food for Thought

With food, timing is everything. It’s important to have a steady eating schedule. Eating snacks high in protein and complex carbs between meals can keep the energy steadily flowing. Foods like cottage cheese, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, or a protein bar can provide a controlled amount of energy. Such foods will satisfy your hunger for longer periods of time than quick-digesting sugars or other simple carbs. Protein bars, or even powdered protein, are also good substitutes when you’re unable to eat on your normal schedule. They are both portable and don’t need to be refrigerated. Make sure to stay hydrated, too, as any amount of dehydration can leave you feeling light-headed or fatigued (and continually debating that trip to the vending machine).

Out Shopping

Clean Eating: Groceries

When shopping for groceries, sometimes all it takes is reading the label to know whether a food item will contribute or detract from your long-term nutritional goals. I know when I shop mindlessly (aka, if it looks good I buy it), it inevitably leads to some poor purchasing decisions and, worse, I often completely omit an important food group or nutrient. Planning ahead not only saves time but could also save you money, by committing you to just the items on your list. Luckily, there are many ways to keep track of your shopping list; I use Google Keep, but there are plenty of great apps available.

Supplements: An Essential Foundation

Of course, it isn’t always easy to get all of your nutrition from food alone. For example, if you wanted to get the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids, you’d have to eat two servings of fish per week. This might not seem like a big deal to a seafood fanatic but, if fishy flavors aren’t your thing, it’s just not realistic to fit in those fatty acids. That’s where supplements come in. For omega-3s, you could try BiOmega™, an ultra-pure fish oil supplement that offers both omega-3 fatty acids and a dose of vitamin D.*

Another benefit to supplements is they can go above and beyond when it comes to full-body health, especially at the cellular level. CoQuinone® 30, one of USANA’s high-quality nutritional products, contains coenzyme Q10, which is key to the production of natural energy (ATP) in cells. It’s a cleaner, more sustainable option for energy on a cellular level. It has also been shown to support a strong and healthy cardiovascular system and contributes to overall antioxidant protection.* Nothing can completely substitute a balanced diet, but you can certainly enhance your nutrition—and energy levels—with the right supplements.Clean Eating: healthpak

If you’re like me and don’t have time to manage all of your supplements, it’s worth checking out the HealthPak™ from USANA. It’s a 28-day supply of core nutritionals, separated into individual AM/PM packs. It definitely beats trying to keep track of four, five, or more individual supplements multiple times a day. If you want a more custom solution, check out the MyHealthPak™. It’s similar to the regular HealthPak, except you get to build your own daily supply of nutritionals by selecting which supplements to include—and how many. My favorite part is you can choose which supplements go in the AM and PM packs, making once-a-day supplements easier to incorporate.

Quick Fixes

We all know, even with the best preparations, life has a way of throwing a wrench in things. Maybe you wake up late and don’t have time to make your high-fat, high-protein avocado toast. Perhaps work or life stresses are draining you, preventing you from eating when you’d like. Whatever the issue, sometimes we just need a quick pick-me-up. Whole fruit is a great, clean energy source that’s perfect for these situations. They have carbs, fiber, and the good kind of sugar that will give you a more sustained energy boost—unlike that Snickers bar we had earlier. So wolf down an apple or orange (or, my favorite, grapefruit) and get to it! Even if you need to go on a fast food run, a lot of restaurants offer fruit or vegetables as a side in place of those deliciously devilish fries.

If you do cave and go for that Snickers bar, it’s not the end of the world. Moderation is both fine and healthy (even those maybe-not-quite-so-evil simple carbohydrates I keep hounding on). Just make sure these little fixes don’t become long-term habits. In reality, the more you focus on getting the proper nutrients at the proper times, the less likely you’ll feel the need to turn to that late-afternoon chocolate bar.

Clean Eating: Recipe

Here at East Coast Life Solutions, we know that food and energy are synonymous with good health. Please feel free to shop for any of the above-mentioned supplements on our site, which will be delivered to your door.

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Energized for Life