mindfulness

Travel Survival Guide

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Simple Strategies For Staying Active And Healthy On Vacation

Holidays and travel in general can be a challenging time to maintain consistency with your health and wellness. However, it can be easier than you think to maintain all the great progress you’ve been making at home with a few subtle shifts. So much of your success when getting thrown off your daily routine comes down to mindset, how you approach your travel, and having a plan. And you know I am ALL about balance. Use this guide to stay active and healthy over the holidays, on your next business trip, or your next vacation.


PLAN TO MOVE DAILY 

Move daily – but don’t stress about your normal routine. Just choose activities that require movement. Moving for shorter bouts more frequently is more important than getting in long workouts.

This movement can be a family activity like a hike, or taking advantage of walking and exploring a city.

If you know you won’t be that active on certain days, plan to get up an extra 20 minutes earlier and get a quick full body workout in before you start the day.

(DOWNLOAD THESE BODYWEIGHT WORKOUTS)

Build time into your travel schedule – and let whoever you are traveling with know ahead of time so the expectations are set in advance.

Don’t forget to PACK YOUR WORKOUT CLOTHES.


SET YOUR NUTRITIONAL MINDSET

Think ahead and make a few simple preparations to set your nutritional mindset for your trip.

Think of what to “ADD” to your meals rather than what to eliminate. Make sure to incorporate greens and protein at every single meal and fill in the rest as desired. Eating foods with little nutritional value, meals lacking balance, or too little water can throw your body completely out of whack, causing bloating, constipation, and digestive issues.

Base your approach to food on respect for your body and how food makes you feel. Vegetables, high-quality protein, and fiber-rich whole grains fuel your body and give you sustaining energy that leaves you feeling good.

Yes, there are definitely foods that are just simply delicious and pleasurable — and you are on vacation and life is meant to be celebrated. Duh. No one wants to be told not to eat pasta in Italy or that slice of pumpkin pie for breakfast. Live your life, fuel your body well, and remove the guilt from your thought process. It’s ok to indulge, it all comes down to finding balance in the day to day.


HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE

Drink plenty of water, especially mid-flight or staying at a high-altitude destination where air is dry and dehydration can cause jet lag and altitude-related illnesses.

Bring a water bottle with you to the airport and fill it up after you get through security and before boarding your flight. Drink the entire thing. Yes, I want you to get up and use the restroom. You can use that time to stretch your legs. And if you can, try to avoid alcohol mid-flight as well as those salty snacks.

And drink before meals and snacks to help prevent over-consuming.


IN-FLIGHT TIPS

Be prepared and pack your own snacks that fall in line with your current eating since healthy options may not always be available. Pack along nuts, fresh fruit, Rx protein bars, nut butter packets, collagen protein packets, greens powder packets, oatmeal cups, etc.

RELAX — Take a few minutes to do deep belly breaths in your seat to calm the nervous system and bring about relaxation. Bring one hand onto your belly and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and expand your belly into your hand, feeling your ribs expand and your low back press toward the seat. Pause when you are full. Slowly exhale the breath out until you are empty, drawing the navel in and up and pause. Repeat for 2 minutes.

STRETCH — Being stuck on a plane or in a car for an extended period of time can leave muscles feeling tight and achy. Book an aisle seat so you can get up frequently and do these stretches or do them right in your seat. Make it a goal to get up once an hour to do a full body stretch and be the person in the back of the plane stretching their legs, back and shoulders. Your body will thank you — everyone else will be envious.

 

Seated Figure 4 — Cross right ankle over left knee and sit up tall to lift chest while tilting your tailbone back behind you to anteriorly tilt the pelvis and enhance the stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds and switch sides.

Eagle Arms Shoulder and Upper Back Stretch — Sit up tall in your seat and hook right elbow underneath left elbow and cross forearms to clasp hands. Squeeze forearms together as you draw shoulders down away from ears and lift fingertips up towards ceiling while dropping chin down. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

Seated Trunk Rotations — Sit up tall in the middle of your seat and turn your torso to the right to place both hands on the armrest, keeping hips forward. Hold spinal twist for a few deep breaths and repeat on the other side. 

Ankle Circles — Lift right foot off the floor slightly and keeping leg still, draw the largest clockwise circle that you can with your toes and repeat 5 rotations before switching to counterclockwise and then switch ankles.

Neck Circles — Engage your core and sit up tall. Keeping your torso and shoulders still, draw your chin down towards your chest, turn/rotate your chin towards your right shoulder, draw right ear towards right shoulder, extend neck back and around until left shoulder moves towards left ear, drop chin down towards shoulder and rotate back to neutral and reverse direction. Repeat twice in each direction.

Forward Fold — hinge at your hips and fold forward, hanging and holding opposite elbows. Relax shoulders, neck, and low back and take a few deep breaths.

Hip Flexor Stretch — Stand with left foot forward and right foot back about 2 feet apart with toes pointing forward. Tuck pelvis under into a posterior tilt, engage abdominals and gently shift hips forward slightly as you reach up through the right arm as high as you can. Repeat movement for 5-10 repetitions and switch sides.


POST-FLIGHT TIPS

Getting in a short and easy full body workout when you arrive at your destination has been proven to reduce fatigue and jet lag. A post-flight workout that falls within 24 hours of flying should be on the mellow side and purely just to bring movement and energy into the body. Think gentle mobility movements to warm up, 4-5 easy bodyweight exercises and a few stretches and belly breathing to cool down.


HEALTHY TRAVEL RECAP:

  1. Move daily

  2. Eat protein and greens at every meal

  3. Hydrate

  4. Pack healthy snacks

  5. Drop the guilt and enjoy yourself

  6. Stretch on the plane

  7. Try these workouts 



From Dysfunctional to Functional Breathing

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Master this breathing technique to unlock your body and enhance your overall well-being.

We all breathe. But the problem is, most of us do not breathe properly. And few people understand the impact improper breathing has on mobility, strength, and power. Correcting and realigning with the proper breathing biomechanics that we were designed for can improve not only our workouts, but our overall wellness and daily life. (Big statement, I know, but it’s absolutely true.) 

Are you a chest breather or belly breather? 

Self Check — observe right now, in this very moment, whether your chest is lifting or if your belly is expanding as you inhale. Don’t try to change your breathe, just observe it’s natural state. How long did you inhale and exhale for and were the durations of each comparable?

CHEST BREATHER: If you noticed you’re breathing primarily into your chest with a relatively large inhales and a shorter exhales, you are a shallow chest breather, along with 90% of the population. You’re not alone. But we need to change that.

 

BIOMECHANICS:

Shallow breathing dysfunctionally recruits accessory muscles such as your chest (pectorals), neck (scalenes and sternocleidomastoid), and upper trap musculature to inflate the chest and hold your ribcage in place, which takes your scapulae (shoulder blades) with it. Your body then uses the recoil of these muscles along with a dropping of the shoulders to perform the work of the diaphragm (dispelling air from your lungs).

This, unfortunately, can cause chronic tension, limitations in neck, shoulder and back, and poor posture…all making you more susceptible to injury.

 

NERVOUS SYSTEM RESPONSE:

Chest breathing has a purpose. It’s intended for our stressed states (like running from a bear!) as it stimulates the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS - aka, our fight or flight response). But when we chest breathe in what is supposed to be our relaxed state, we in turn trigger that same stress response.

If you’re someone who spends excess time living in a sympathetic state (anxiety, high stress, lack of sleep, overtraining), you are adding unnecessary stress to your body which ultimately, is shaving years off your life.

BELLY BREATHER: This is how we are meant to breathe. Yay, you. But so often we get pulled out of this pattern from either the stress mentioned above, postural changes from poor lifestyle habits, previous injuries, or trying to hold our bellies in all day long.

 

BIOMECHANICS AND NERVOUS SYSTEM RESPONSE:

Belly breathing relies on your diaphragm, intercostal muscles, internal obliques, and transversus abdominis (TVA), activating our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and shifts us into a relaxed state which optimizes our body for rest, recovery, and digestion. 

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT:

Our ability to fully expand and contract the belly on our inhales and exhales increases lung capacity, improves sleep, digestion, and overall health and wellness, ensures a healthy relationship with the pelvic floor, deep core musculature, and diaphragm. (Postpartum ladies, get on this one), and gets our bodies moving properly. Contrary to what many people believe, core strength isn’t just about holding in our core and keeping our abs tight. The diaphragm is the king of the core.

From Dysfunctional Chest Breather to Functional Belly Breather:

The best place to start if you’re new to re-learning or re-wiring this breathing pattern is in a prone position (on your belly). Once you’ve mastered breathing in all four directions on your belly (belly into the floor, ribs laterally out to the sides, low back to the ceiling), you can practice supine/on your back, seated, standing and while walking.

Prone Belly Breathing:

  1. Lay on your belly and make a pillow with your hands to rest your forehead. Focus on deeply inhaling and exhaling through your nose (you can exhale through your mouth but consistently breathe in through the nose) with a 4-5 count inhale, a 4-5 count exhale, and a 4-5 count hold when empty. 

  2. As you Inhale, actively try to expand your abdomen and breathe your belly into the floor as well as breathe laterally into your side waist, as if your waist is an accordion.

  3. As you exhale, slowly let all the breath out with control and feel empty at the bottom of your breath, gently engaging the deep core musculature and holding for 4-5 counts to allow the diaphragm to functionally engage and initiate a proper inhale.

  4. Set a timer for 2 minutes (don’t poke your head up until the timer goes off).

Practice anywhere and practice often.

Working on breathing mechanics for just two minutes a day can significantly restore mobility and hardwire your body to begin naturally breathing in this way.

And if you’re a mouth breather… breathing through your mouth most often means you’re a shallow chest breather. I like to say that breathing through your mouth is sort of like trying to eat through your nose. (Not really, but, you get the point).

Curb Your Cravings With These Blood-Sugar Balancing Tips

Question of the week: “How do you deal with cravings?! I eat one sweet thing and then end up gorging all day!!!” 

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Our cravings are primarily related to blood sugar, stress, hormone imbalances, and food choices. By keeping nutrition quality high, getting adequate sleep, calming the nervous system, reducing stress, and getting in daily physical activity, you can help keep your cravings at bay.

Understand that cravings come and go and if you can accept their presence while trying to determine why they’re happening, you can change your reaction to them.

Here are a few reasons you might find yourself with a hankering for that 2pm cookie:

  • Low blood sugar

  • Consuming an imbalanced meal

  • Stress

  • Lack of sleep (less than 6 hours)

  • Dehydration

  • Hormonal changes during pre-menstrual period

  • Travel, especially with time-zone changes

  • Attempting to soothe boredom, anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, etc

  • Looking for a distraction

  • Overly focused on food and nutrition

The more honest you can be in recognizing your cravings, understanding the reasoning, and addressing them appropriately without giving in to them, the more you'll feel in charge of your own decisions.

How food choices affect blood sugar:

Don’t get me wrong, I love sweets and recommend you live a little, too. But understanding how and what affects your blood sugar can help you in making the right choice and how to prevent yourself from spiraling on the rollercoaster that can be the blood sugar response.

A diet consisting of a high intake of carbs with a minimal amount of fat and infrequent protein feedings (hello, American diet), eating carbs by themselves, or choosing high glycemic index foods (candy, sweets, bread, pasta, natural sweeteners, etc) causes frequent spikes and drops in blood sugar, which in turn, makes you crave more sugar and more carbohydrates.  

STRESS AND SLEEP:

Sleep, emotions and stress all negatively affect cortisol levels (the stress hormone), blood sugar, inflammation, hunger hormones, and mood, all which lead to more sugar cravings. And reversibly, your ability to control blood sugar can also affect your sleep, mood, and stress. Welcome to the vicious cycle.

To keep your blood sugar stable throughout the night, eat a snack before bed consisting of a healthy fat and carbohydrate. This is the only time I don’t recommend protein, as the digestion of protein can interfere with sleep.

A single night of inadequate sleep can elevate blood sugar levels and when we consistently don’t get enough sleep, our body enters a state of chronic stress. Improve your overall health by creating a sleep routine that enables a consistent 7-9 hours of sleep.

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Pre-Menstrual Period

While the hormonal effects during the a woman’s cycle varies from person to person, it’s not uncommon for there to be greater fluctuations during the pre-menstrual period. If you’re someone who tends to be more irritable and notices significant swings in mood, it may help to increase your exercise and decrease the amount of carbohydrates consumed during this week.

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Consistent blood sugar balance is KEY:

Begin your day with a healthy breakfast consisting of at least 15-20 g of protein, a high quality fat (like avocado, grass fed butter, or a straight tablespoon of coconut oil), greens, and a low glycemic carbohydrate (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, or seasonal fruit).

 

Ex: 2-3 eggs (12-18g protein), arugula, ½ an avocado, ½ c brown rice, lemon, olive oil, salt, tablespoon of pesto

Eat at consistent intervals throughout the day, feeding yourself every 3-4 hours.  Lunch and dinner should consist of a fish or animal protein (the size of 1-2 palms), 2 fists of vegetables, 2 thumbs of healthy fats, and an optional 1 cupped handful of whole grains.

Snacks in between meals can consist of seasonal fruit or vegetables and a smaller amount of protein such as a serving of nuts or a serving of greek yogurt. 

6 TIPS FOR STABLE BLOOD SUGAR

  1. Eat at consistent intervals throughout the day, feeding yourself every 3-4 hours. 

  2. Always eat a balance of protein, fat, and carbs and try to avoid eating carbs by themselves. If you can’t find all three macronutrients, choose at least 2 of the 3.

    - Lunch and dinner should consist of a fish or animal protein (the size of 1-2 palms), 1-2 fists of vegetables, 1-2 thumbs of healthy fats, and 1 cupped handful of whole grains.

    - Snacks in between meals can consist of seasonal fruit or vegetables and a smaller amount of protein such as a serving of nuts or a serving of greek yogurt. 

    - Eat a snack before bed consisting of a healthy fat and carbohydrate.

  3. Get adequate sleep (7-9 hours) for more stabilized blood sugar, more energy, less hunger, better decisions, and a happier mood.

  4. Take frequent “breath-breaks” throughout your day (10 focused breaths of a 5-count inhale and 5-count exhale) to calm the nervous system and lower stress hormones.

  5. Adaptogens can help regulate the hormonal imbalance in the body. Use this guide to help you in determining what your body might benefit from.

  6. If you’re a female, increase your exercise and decrease the amount of carbohydrates consumed during your premenstrual week.

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5 Tips for KICKING CRAVINGS when they arise:

  1. Keep healthy food choices on hand always, not only for balancing blood sugar quickly, but also healthier options for when you still need to satisfy that craving for something sweet -  keep these in your bag, in your car, in your desk drawer, etc:

    - avocados, olives, nuts, seeds

    - primal kitchen bars

    - chia seed pudding (3 tbsp chia seeds, 8 oz almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon

    - fresh pressed green juice with half an apple and half a lemon

    - coconut water

    - apples, berries

    - seasonal fruit

    - 70% cacao dark chocolate

  2. Drink a full glass of water

  3. Take a “breath-break” of 10 deep breaths (5 count inhale, 5 count exhale) and check back in

  4. Chew a piece of gum

  5. Eat a protein/fat combo or a serving of almonds (17) and then check in with your craving 10 minutes later.

MINDFULNESS:

When you first begin thinking about your craving, ask yourself if anything was missing from your last meal. Did it contain enough protein and fat to keep your blood sugar stable? Are you actually hungry? Is what you’re about to eat what your body actually needs in that moment? Eat it if you know it will bring you true joy and isn’t an attempt at filling a void, calming your stress, or your body’s cry to boost your energy levels.  If you do eat it, balance it, savor every bite, relax, and move on.

If you find that you still can’t kick your cravings after following this advice, you may want to consider getting your hormones checked.

Let’s Chat!

Do you have a question regarding blood sugar, nutrition choices, and your fitness goals? Do you have any words of advice for others trying to navigate creating a healthy lifestyle? Ask or share below or start the conversation on social using #runningwithforks.

I WANT TO GIVE YOU MORE

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Here we are in the second week of 2018. While most people take the holidays to reflect on the past year and put their intentions and resolutions out there on January 1st, I needed some extra time this year. Time to really think about what you want from me, how I can help you, what's been holding me back from giving it to you, and how to actually make it all happen moving forward. So if you want to get right to it, scroll down to THE TAKEAWAY. Or if you want to read the brief emo/reflective side of Kirsten, read on.

REFLECTION:

On a personal note, this past year did not pass by without challenge, questioning moments, or deep heartache, but it was also filled with SO much gratitude, excitement, growth, love, adventure, and motivation. All of you, and the experiences, conversations, frustrations, opportunities, hurdles, and moments in between the moments that have filled the last 12 months have been nothing short of strengthening and heart opening.

On a professional note, I have to admit, when I left Los Angeles 3 years ago, I had this underlying feeling that maybe leaving wasn't the best choice for my career, but thank you, Seattle, you proved me wrong in 2017. 

Now for 2018, I want to give you more.

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MY REQUEST FOR YOU:

As you look back on 2017, I challenge you to reflect on the things you’re proud of, the moments you felt powerful and strong in your body and your mind, and also those moments that have taken you to your knees and made you vulnerably human. Because being human and striking a balance is what it’s all about.

Life is going to happen. And along with all of life's greatest moments, you're going to have the not-so-great ones that throw you off track, or maybe even prevent you from getting on track in the first place. You'll get sick, your kids will get sick, burnout will happen, you won't have enough time, you'll will eat that cake that you think you shouldn't eat (but I want to tell you why you should) and you're sometimes going to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

So the question is, moving forward, how do you work around and through "real life" and stay on track with your health?

THE TAKEAWAY:

Here's what I'm getting at. I chose this path years ago for the same reasons I have today. I want to help you, support you and guide you so you don't feel alone on this journey of figuring out what works for you and what will help you accomplish your goals amidst the chaos. I want to help you figure out where to start, how to continue, and help you live a healthy and balanced life. 

And that means more from me in new ways.

My priority for 2018 is to help you feel even more in control of your health and body, optimize what you're doing, help you understand the how and why so those adjustments you're making stick, and simplify it all. 

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I want you feel you have a resource to the thousands of opinions out there on health and wellness. Because let's face it, there are more than thousands, there are a bagillion, and it can be really effing confusing!

As most of you know, RWF isn’t focused on any one particular style of fitness, nutrition or lifestyle. It’s not about gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, whole30, keto, crossfit, HIIT training, yoga, or any other wellness trend (but those all have their place and they all work for different reasons and different goals).

RWF is about taking you, and where you're at, along with your health history, personal struggles, experience, and the real life that surrounds you daily, and building a solution that works for YOUR body, and YOUR life, right now.

WHAT I NEED FROM YOU:

SO, in 2018, What can I do to help you be your best this year? 

I want to help you through better services, tools, more communication, less communication, whatever your schedule and heart desire. So tell me what you need and want from me.

Here’s to good health, happiness and being more human in 2018,

xx Kirsten

10 LIFESTYLE CHANGES FOR LASTING HEALTH

Running With Forks 10 Lifestlye Changes for Lasting Health MindBodyGreen

Head on over to MindBodyGreen to read my latest post on healthy, lasting lifestyle changes for a better you!

The path to a healthy lifestyle, reaching your goals and making lasting changes has great rewards, but also plenty of obstacles that attempt to steer you off track. 

After years of working with a variety of clientele, as well as pushing myself, I've established a few tips and tricks I give all my clients to help them make a permanent shift to a healthier life. I hope these tools help guide you along the road to becoming your best self as well.

  1. Take a moment and determine what makes you happy...

  2. Set a schedule for your workouts, put them in your weekly calendar and stick to it...

  3. Make deeply restful shut-eye a priority...

  4. Think of food as high quality fuel...

  5. Add weights to lose weight...

  6. Cultivate a support system...

  7. Incorporate radical forgiveness into your life...

  8. Practice santosha...

  9. Ditch self-doubt, stay positive and trust in the universe...

  10. Don't take shortcuts...

ENJOY THE JOURNEY, HAVE FUN AND DO WHAT MAKES YOUR HEART SING!

WWW.MINDBODYGREEN.COM