Wellness

Women's Health Week // Mental Wellness

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It’s Women’s Health Week and studies show that while women today are leading healthier lives physically, there are still quite a few missing pieces to the overall picture of health and well-being.

Over 6 days I’m sharing scientifically proven tips on taking charge of your overall health and wellness.

DAY 6 // MENTAL WELLNESS

Women wear so many hats these days and often times aren’t getting their own needs met, aren’t taking time for themselves, aren’t able to ask for help, and have a hard time taking a moment to stop, breathe, and share with others what’s going on internally for them.

First off, know that it’s OK to not be OK all the time. It’s absolutely normal, despite the fact that it’s not talked about openly. Thankfully, light is beginning to seep through the cracks on this topic, but it’s still not enough.

I most definitely have bad days and sometimes life just feels so goddamn hard. But that’s the stuff that makes life interesting in my opinion, and the frustrations and struggles, are all the things that make you stronger and help you figure out who and how you’re meant to be in this world.

Wellness is not just the physical exertion we do or the food we put into our bodies, but the personal work we put in daily to better understand who we are and what we need. And while the work itself is your own journey to take, sometimes it takes guidance, an ear to listen, someone to reflect with, or perhaps someone to unintentionally shine light on an area of ourselves we’ve kept hidden in the dark for far too long. As hard as it may be, let that light come in.

My recommendation:

Dive in deep with yourself. Every day. The more you know about yourself, your mind, and your individual behaviors and how to change them, the more likely you are to succeed in being the best version of yourself.

We all need support and outlets. Find what works best for you and seek someone to share openly with… a therapist, a friend, a family member, a ladies group.

Express and bring light to what’s on the inside — the positive, the negative, and the in-between.

Notice your thoughts .. notice your feelings .. notice your behaviors .. ask yourself what you need .. what do you want .. what is your inner voice saying.. what is your inner critic saying .. what drives you .. what holds you back .. what pushes you further .. what calms you .. what keeps you on track .. what makes you choose Y O U ?

And choose you. Make time for the things that fuel you and fill your cup.

“Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days, you know that there are better ones coming.”

Love you guys. xx

Day 1 - Hormones. Are. Real.

Day 2 - Nutritional Biohacking

Day 3 - Lift Heavy and Periodize

Day 4 - Pelvic Power

Day 5 - Sleep Specifics

LET ME KNOW…

How do you best take care of your mental well-being?

What other adjustments have you made to your lifestyle to support your overall health and wellness? Share your favorite tips in the comments below — others in the community might benefit from your recommendations!

Come connect with me on Instagram @running_with_forks

Do you have any questions not answered in this post? Comment below or send me a note so I can continue to add information to answer your questions.

Women's Health Week // Sleep Specifics

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It’s Women’s Health Week and studies show that while women today are leading healthier lives physically, there are still quite a few missing pieces to the overall picture of health and well-being.

Over 6 days I’m sharing scientifically proven biohacking tips on taking charge of your overall health and wellness.

BIOHACKING 

Biohacking is the process of making changes to your lifestyle in order to “hack” your body’s biology and feel your absolute best. Everything we put into our bodies — our foods, our thoughts, our physical movement ­— are inputs to our biology and have an enormous impact on our outputs — how we behave, feel, function, and perform on a daily basis. 

If the goal is better outputs such as increased energy, clearer thinking, better moods, happier relationships, reduction in illness, optimum performance, and so on, then we need to adjust our inputs.


DAY 5 // SLEEP

Sleep is one of the most critical aspects of our overall health and most women aren’t getting enough of it. Especially the week before a new cycle begins.

Sleep is imperative to supporting optimal health, a healthy metabolism, energy production, immune function, proper digestion, good decision-making, training performance, regulating cortisol levels, and keeping a clear and calm mind. Unfortunately, more than a third of adults get the minimum requirement to keep health problems in check.

As adults, we need a minimum of 6 hours of sleep, but in order to function well and thrive, we need 7-9 hours.

Signs you aren’t getting enough sleep:

  • You struggle with your weight — Poor sleep disrupts appetite regulation and can lead to increased eating as well as an increase in the stress hormone cortisol which is related to weight gain

  • Your brain is foggy — Sleep is important for reinforcing learned experiences into memory. Without adequate sleep, you can experience confusion, impaired judgement, forgetfulness and reduced alertness and concentration

  • You get sick frequently — Lack of sleep increases inflammation and decreases T-cells which lead to increased vulnerability to viruses and bacteria as well as a risk for heart disease and other inflammatory-related disease

  • Your workouts feel super hard and you’re not recovering well — Your body uses sleep to recover and recharge the nervous system. Minimal sleep can lower energy levels, decrease reaction time, decrease your capacity for endurance, lower the desire to exercise, and lead to depressed mood

  • You’re unhappy — Sleep is imperative for hormone regulation and an interference can cause impaired regulation of emotions, heightened stress, decreased mood and an increased risk of depression

How to prepare for a better night’s sleep:

  • Wake naturally with light which naturally raises cortisol, a hormone we typically don’t want to see a big spike in except for the morning, which helps you feel more alert and relaxed.

  • Use an app to sync your sleep and wake cycle by sensing and waking when you’re at the lightest stage in your sleep cycle.

  • Avoid hitting snooze a million times and sit up and put your feet on the floor right away. (this is the hardest one for me).

  • Make sure to get exposure to daylight throughout the day to regulate the sleep hormone melatonin.

  • Get consistent and regular exercise. This helps normalize the body’s internal clock and regulates the nervous system and hormonal levels. Avoid intense exercise in the evening which can make it more challenging to fall asleep.

  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm and limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks in the evening.

  • Eat a balanced and small to medium sized that consists of protein, fat and slow digesting carbs and avoid caloric deprivation.

  • Do a brain dump before bed by writing down any thoughts that are on your mind, things you need to do, responses to emails you need to get out, a friend you need to call, etc. This helps promote true relaxation and reduces worry by getting the things swirling in your mind down on paper.

  • Stick to a schedule and attempt to go to bed at the same time every evening which teaches your body when to release appropriate sleep hormones.

  • Give your body extra time to wind down before bed and incorporate a magnesium supplement into your nightly routine.

  • Create a relaxing and quiet sleep environment with a white noise machine and free it of anxiety-inducing clutter.

  • Make the room as dark as possible to maximize melatonin production by using black out curtains and flipping your phone over.

  • Turn off electronics, phones, and computers at least 30 minutes before bed as artificial light interferes with our production of melatonin.

  • Try reading, meditating, light stretching, or sex which can release tension and activate chemicals that help calm the body down

  • Sleep at least 7 hours. Work your way up if you are currently getting far less than that. Even adding just 30 minutes can make a big difference.

Day 1 - Hormones. Are. Real.

Day 2 - Nutritional Biohacking

Day 3 - Lift Heavy and Periodize

Day 4 - Pelvic Power

LET ME KNOW…

Do you get enough sleep? Do you have any habits that work great or you in ensuring you get enough sleep?

What other adjustments have you made to your lifestyle to support your overall health and wellness? Share your favorite tips in the comments below — others in the community might benefit from your recommendations!

Come connect with me on Instagram @running_with_forks

Do you have any questions not answered in this post? Comment below or send me a note so I can continue to add information to answer your questions.

Women's Health Week // Lift Heavy and Periodize Your Training

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It’s Women’s Health Week and studies show that while women today are leading healthier lives physically, there are still quite a few missing pieces to the overall picture of health and well-being.

Over 6 days I’m sharing scientifically proven biohacking tips on taking charge of your overall health and wellness.

BIOHACKING 

Biohacking is the process of making changes to your lifestyle in order to “hack” your body’s biology and feel your absolute best. Everything we put into our bodies — our foods, our thoughts, our physical movement ­— are inputs to our biology and have an enormous impact on our outputs — how we behave, feel, function, and perform on a daily basis. 

If the goal is better outputs such as increased energy, clearer thinking, better moods, happier relationships, reduction in illness, optimum performance, and so on, then we need to adjust our inputs.


DAY 3 // Periodize Your Training and Lift Heavy Weights

As women, we are biochemically different than men so it’s important we adopt different approaches that are designed to work for our unique differences and this includes our exercise.  

There is a time and place for short intense workouts, lifting heavy, meditating, and doing yoga and barre classes. And each of these is not how you should work out all the time. It’s important to vary your movement consistently, periodize your strength training, and perhaps even periodize your training throughout the month based on your cycle (though optional). How you workout in the first half of your cycle isn’t necessarily how you should work out during the second half of your cycle.

Think about it…you probably don’t feel like kicking your own ass or catching a Barry’s bootcamp class during your period, nor do you want your trainer barking “5 more!” at you when all you really feel like doing is laying in savasana in a warm yoga room. Listen to what your body needs and mix it up. (note: this is not to be used as a consistent excuse for not working out).

If you’re interested in optimizing your health and wellness and performing and feeling your best, start periodizing your training.

BASIC PERIODIZATION:

Periodization involves systematically planning various aspects of your training program in order to continually challenge your system to adapt and improve while ensuring the body is adequately recovering to reduce the risk of injury and over-training.

Here is an example of the most basic form of periodizing: Think about your overall fitness goal for the next 3-4 months. Now, create 3 separate phases that build on top of each other, each lasting 4-6 weeks, and each with their own goal.

Phase 1 - Work on foundational movements and create your baseline for strength and conditioning

Phase 2 - Progress each of the movements in Phase 1 by increasing weight, intensity, or number of sets and reps

Phase 3 - Continue to progress each of the movements in Phase 2 by increasing the skill needed to perform each movement

Within each phase, create 1-3 strength workouts that you complete every week and program in 1-3 other modalities such as mobility, running, hiking, a yoga or dance class, or anything else active you enjoy.

After all 3 phases are complete, take a lighter recovery week and start back over, but with your new baseline.

Note: For you super active and high intensity ladies out there, it’s incredibly important to rest and schedule in lighter training days, sometimes even weeks. Research shows that individuals can handle around 3-4 weeks of consistent high intensity training and then need a rest, recharge and regeneration week to be scheduled to avoid risk of burnout or injury.

LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS

For the ladies who choose to #yogaeverydamnday…while it might feel good and provide you with the mental clarity (and sanity) you crave (been there done that), your body needs more. I promise. Consider balancing out each week and adding in other types of movements such as strength training, boxing, functional range conditioning, and cardio.

Choose weights that are actually a challenge to your system without allowing your form to breakdown. For example, if you’ve designated 10 reps as your rep scheme, your weight should be heavy enough to just be able to complete the 10 reps, only maybe being able to do 1-2 more.

And if you’re worried about getting bulky from lifting weights, I promise it won’t happen. I’m not saying to go out and go crazy and become a cross-fitter, although, you do you. But research doesn’t lie — lifting heavy will not make you bulky unless you have poorly planned nutrition and you lift with a crazy amount of volume.

CYCLE SYNCING YOUR WORKOUTS:

Once you understand how your hormones shift throughout your cycle and what phase you’re in, you can begin to maximize (and appreciate) your hormonal superpowers (again, see Day 1) and gain better control of your overall health through the foods you eat (see Day 2) and the workouts you choose.

Menstrual Phase During this phase, progesterone drops and estrogen rises and then falls. It’s best to let your body be your guide and do what feels best each day. Aim for lighter workouts, yoga, stretching, or walking with a friend. It’s best to avoid high-impact workouts since they can stress the uterine ligaments and you’re more sensitive to pain.

Follicular Phasehormones are at their lowest point but are starting to rise so more intense workouts, heavy weights, and challenging movements will start to feel good.

Ovulation Phaseestrogen is at an all-time high, testosterone surges, and you’re on an energy high! Get your higher intensity workouts in like running, strength training, HIIT classes, and boxing. You’re also feeling like a social butterfly so it’s a great time to check out that new class or studio you’ve been thinking about.

Luteal Phase hello rollercoaster. Hormones are waving up and down. Support this phase with making sure you are eating enough to support your workouts and recovery (See Day 2) and individualize your workouts based on how your energy is each day. If you’ve got energy, get your strength in, if you’re lower on energy one day, choose either a lower intensity but longer duration cardio day or a short and quick workout to get in and out.

Here’s my recommendation for being a better functioning human.

  1. Start listening to your body

  2. Periodize your workouts

  3. Ditch the 5 pound dumbbells

  4. Add in heavy weights regularly

  5. Explore what it takes to speak to your joints directly

  6. Consider cycle syncing your workouts

Day 1 - Hormones. Are. Real.

Day 2 - Nutritional Biohacking


LET ME KNOW…

Do you periodize your training? Do you lift heavy? Have you tried syncing your workouts with your cycle?

What other adjustments have you made to your lifestyle to support your overall health and wellness? Share your favorite tips in the comments below — others in the community might benefit from your recommendations!

Come connect with me on Instagram @running_with_forks

Do you have any questions not answered in this post? Comment below or send me a note so I can continue to add information to answer your questions.

Women's Health Week // Nutritional Biohacking

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It’s Women’s Health Week and studies show that while women today are leading healthier lives physically, there are still quite a few missing pieces to the overall picture of health and well-being. This week is all about reminding and encouraging women to: listen to their bodies; put their own needs first for a change; be kinder, gentler and more compassionate with themselves; and to share knowledge to help make better informed decisions about overall health and well-being.  

Over 6 days, I’m sharing scientifically proven biohacking tips on taking charge of your overall health and wellness. Men, stay with me. You’re up in June — and you’ve got ladies in your life that can use your support.

BIOHACKING 

Biohacking is the process of making changes to your lifestyle in order to “hack” your body’s biology and feel your absolute best. As humans, we are made up of very complex systems. Everything we put into our bodies — our foods, our thoughts, our physical movement ­— are inputs to our biology and have an enormous impact on our outputs — how we behave, feel, function, and perform on a daily basis. 

If the goal is better outputs such as increased energy, clearer thinking, better moods, happier relationships, reduction in illness, optimum performance, and so on, then we need to adjust our inputs.

DAY 2 // Biohacking with Food

Women are biochemically different than men so it’s important to adopt different approaches that are designed to work for each of our unique differences. And although proper dietary intake can help maintain hormonal balance, reduce symptoms of PMS, improve energy, mood, and fertility, it’s too often overlooked. Below are a few tips on biohacking your system with food.

WATCH YOUR ENERGY BALANCE:

Low calorie intake and high energy output is not the end-all-be-all equation for fat loss, weight management, or body composition changes. While this method can work for some, it’s not sustainable, it’s not universally applicable, and can be detrimental in certain situations.

Calorie restriction has been linked to thyroid imbalances, a sluggish metabolism, sleep issues, fatigue, brain fog, lackluster hair, skin and nails, and an increase in cortisol (which aside from the hair, skin and nails symptom) are all factors in weight gain.

  • Stop restricting and start eating balanced meals every 3-4 hours to manage blood sugar levels, avoid cortisol spikes and mood swings, and help regulate metabolism

SUPPORT WITH FOOD:

Balance your hormones, maintain a healthy weight and keep your body working FOR you with the following tips.

  • Choose organic as often as possible and always wash your food (see Day 1 about EDC’s)

  • Choose fresh and frozen (but not processed) food as often as possible and limit the amount of processed foods, which contains preservatives, dyes, and added oils and salt (again, Day 1).

  • Make sure to incorporate healthy fats in your meals such as avocado, walnuts, and salmon

  • Eat more plants. Always.

Cycle Syncing:

Once you understand how your hormones shift throughout your cycle and what phase you’re in, you can begin to maximize (and appreciate) your hormonal superpowers (again, see Day 1) and gain better control of your overall health through the foods you eat.

Menstrual Phase During this phase, progesterone drops and estrogen rises and then falls. It’s best to focus on blood-building foods that restore and re-mineralize the body while avoiding high fat and heavily salted foods, limiting your caffeine intake, reducing or eliminating alcohol and sugars, and drinking soothing teas if you experience cramping.

Specifically: kale, mushrooms, beets, adzuki beans, kidney beans, watermelon, warm soups or bone broth (rich in collagen to help with rebuilding), sea vegetables, flaxseed

Follicular Phasethe body is preparing for ovulation, hormones are at their lowest point (as well as your energy), and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) rises to tell the ovaries to prepare to release an egg and increase estrogen. Support healthy gut balance and help metabolize estrogen with probiotic-rich foods and boost energy with iron-rich foods and vitamin B-12.

Specifically: sprouted and fermented foods like broccoli sprouts, kimchi, pickled veggies, sauerkraut, grass-fed beef, wild fish, pasture-raised eggs, organic chicken, and dark leafy greens.

Ovulation Phaseestrogen is at an all-time high, testosterone surges, FSH continues to rise, LH (luteinizing stimulating hormone) increases, an egg is released and you’ve got yourself an increase in libido and sexual energy (praise the lord). Since estrogen has an appetite-suppressing effect, you’ll feel less hungry yet still have lots of energy. As a result, focus on protein and fat for energy and incorporate foods that are high in fiber and antioxidants to support the detoxification of the increased in hormone levels.

Specifically: brussels sprouts, berries, coconut, almonds, seeds, dark leafy greens, and asparagus and choose lighter carbohydrates like quinoa and lentils.

Luteal Phase hello rollercoaster. the phase before your period includes a wave up and down of estrogen and progesterone and a time when many women experience more symptoms (aka PMS filled with bloating, mood swings, forgetfulness, and irritability), an increase in appetite and a craving for more comfort foods. Support this phase first and foremost with making sure you are eating enough calories to prevent dramatic shifts in mood and eat at regular 3-4 hour intervals throughout the day. Opt for foods that are rich in B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and fiber help reduce sugar cravings, fight fatigue, and promote elimination to flush hormones. Additionally, attempt to avoid foods that may trigger discomfort, cramps, or mood swings like caffeine, sugar, and alcohol for a more balanced mood.

Specifically: sweet potatoes, squash, dark chocolate, spinach, and pumpkin seeds; produce serotonin, like leafy greens and quinoa

Adaptogens for Women’s Support:

Below are two adaptogens I personally swear by throughout the month…

Maca — an indigenous Andean nutritional powerhouse shown to boost energy and mood, enhance sex drive, support a healthy libido, aid the body in natural liver detoxification, stimulate the adrenal glands to balance hormone levels, support a balanced transition through menopause, help with fertility, and studies have shown it may help with hormonal issues, including PMS, menopause, and hot flashes, as well as psychological and sexual symptoms during post-menopause. Add in to your morning smoothies, or simply mix with water and drink before you head out for the day.

Chaste berry - a member of the mint family with health benefits mostly related to reproduction and menstrual health. This herb stimulates the pituitary gland to create more luteinizing hormone (LH) which triggers the ovaries to increase their production of progesterone. Balancing the ratio of progesterone and estrogen has shows to: alleviate PMS symptoms such as bloating, depression, and irritability; decrease breast discomfort, cramping, and painful periods; regulate periods for those with an irregular cycle after long-term hormonal birth control use; ease endometriosis symptoms. This herb requires consistency to feel the benefits.

STAY WITH ME OVER THE COURSE OF THIS WEEK FOR MORE TIPS ON BIOHACKING YOUR HEALTH AND EMPOWERING THE AMAZING WOMEN AROUND YOU TO DO THE SAME.

Day 1 - Hormones. Are. Real.


LET ME KNOW…

Have you tried biohacking with the foods/nutrients you put in your body? What other adjustments have you made to your lifestyle to support your overall health and wellness? Share your favorite tips in the comments below — others in the community might benefit from your recommendations!

Come connect with me on Instagram @running_with_forks

Do you have any questions not answered in this post? Comment below or send me a note so I can continue to add information to answer your questions.

Women's Health Week // Hormones. Are. Real.

gabriel-matula-300398-unsplash.jpg

It’s Women’s Health Week and studies show that while women today are leading healthier lives physically, there are still quite a few missing pieces to the overall picture of health and well-being. This week is all about reminding and encouraging women to: listen to their bodies; put their own needs first for a change; be kinder, gentler and more compassionate with themselves; and to share knowledge to help make better informed decisions about overall health and well-being.  

For the next 6 days I’ll be sharing scientifically proven biohacking tips on taking charge of your overall health and wellness. Men, stay with me. You’re up in June — and you’ve got ladies in your life that can use your support.

Biohacking 

Biohacking is the process of making changes to your lifestyle in order to “hack” your body’s biology and feel your absolute best. As humans, we are made up of very complex systems. Everything we put into our bodies — our foods, our thoughts, our physical movement ­— are inputs to our biology and have an enormous impact on our outputs — how we behave, feel, function, and perform on a daily basis. 

If the goal is better outputs such as increased energy, clearer thinking, better moods, happier relationships, reduction in illness, optimum performance, and so on, then we need to adjust our inputs.


DAY 1 // HORMONES … Are your SUPERPOWER.

Seriously. Hormones change week by week and affect your brain and body in powerful and positive ways. They play a key role in your sex drive, sleeping soundly, feeling happy, creativity and productivity, maintaining a healthy weight and regular cycle, and getting pregnant.

While it’s normal to have gentle fluctuations throughout the month, I promise you, it’s not normal to be a crazy lady. If you’re experiencing wild shifts in mood, energy, sleep, or stress, your body is speaking to you.

GET YOUR LEVELS CHECKED. Make an appointment to see your doc and request blood work to check the levels of your reproductive, metabolic, and stress hormones.  

Cycle Superpowers:

Since the ebbs and flows of your hormones throughout your cycle are predictable, I recommend you use them to your advantage to help you work smarter, get tasks completed, plan and schedule important things in advance, and ask for what you need.

You may have noticed that some weeks during your cycle you feel extra creative, some weeks you’re super focused and productive, and other weeks you either need to hunker down at home and not speak to a soul or are maybe you feel like a super human communicator.

Of course, there might also be times you feel like scratching someone’s eyes out, and this can either be an indicator to get those hormones checked OR you may need to pay a bit more attention to your personal needs as each week goes on and learn how to ask for what you need.

RECOMMENDATION: Check out a Hormone Horoscope or Cycle Tracking App for more information on what’s happening each day of your cycle. It’s wild. And truly helpful.

Oral Contraceptives:

Some women attempt to control their hormonal fluctuations with birth control or want their periods to go away altogether, but; I highly recommend against it. Oral contraceptives only mask the underlying health issues that are causing the rollercoaster effect in the first place and press the pause button on getting the proper care you need and will eventually have to face.

To ignore your cycle is to do your body a disservice as it’s an important indicator of your overall health.

If possible, CHOOSE ALTERNATIVE OR NATURAL BIRTH CONTROL methods to resume a self-regulated cycle and limit external hormonal input.

Endocrine Disruptors:

EDC’s or endocrine disruptive chemicals are chemicals commonly found in cosmetics, shampoos, cleaning products, plastics, and pesticides in food that not only disrupt your hormonal cycle, but increase your risk for cancer as well as affect your fertility.

RECOMMENDATION: Do your best to GO GREEN in your home, CHOOSE ORGANIC as often as possible, ELIMINATE USE OF PLASTIC water bottles and food containers, and SWAP OUT YOUR SKINCARE products for clean and safe ingredients. Look for more conscious brands that eliminate parabens, phthalates, and petroleum chemicals.

Stay with me OVER THE COURSE OF THIS week for more tips on biohacking your health and empowering the amazing women around you to do the same.

LET ME KNOW…

Have you gotten your hormone levels checked? Have you worked towards eliminating endocrine disruptors as best you can? What other adjustments have you made to your lifestyle to support your overall health and wellness? Share your favorite tips in the comments below — others in the community might benefit from your recommendations!

Come connect with me on Instagram @running_with_forks

Do you have any questions not answered in this post? Comment below or send me a note so I can continue to add information to answer your questions.