Monday, April 25, 2022

What Is The Difference Between Salt & Sodium


What is Sodium?

With it’s bad rap, you may be surprised to learn that you can’t live without sodium. It's an essential mineral you must get from the food you eat in order for your body to function. Sodium not only helps your body keep fluids in all the right places, but also aids in nerve conduction and helps your muscles work. The kicker is, you only need about 200 milligrams of sodium a day for normal body functions, and most Americans consume closer to 3,400 milligrams.

Salt: Sodium and Chloride

You may know salt best as the white crystals that bring out the flavor in your roasted potatoes. But those crystals are actually minerals made up of the two compounds sodium and chloride, with 40 percent from sodium and 60 percent from chloride. While salt is made up of mostly chloride, it’s still considered a high-sodium item. One teaspoon of table salt contains 2,300 milligrams of sodium.

Why You Need to Watch Sodium

When it comes to diet and nutrition, the 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend you limit your daily intake of sodium to 2,300 milligrams a day. The American Heart Association goes even further, and says you'd be better off limiting your intake to 1,500 milligrams a day. When your blood has too much sodium, your body shifts more fluid into the bloodstream to dilute it. This increases blood volume and, in turn, increases blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Tips for Keeping Low Sodium

While salt is high in sodium, it’s probably not the primary source in your diet. For most people, packaged foods, fast food and ready-to-go meals constitute more than 75 percent of their sodium intake. To keep a lid on sodium, fill your diet with more freshly-prepared foods that are naturally low in sodium such as fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and proteins without added salt. At the grocery store, keep an eye out for foods labeled "low sodium." When dining out, ask for your food to be made without salt.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Protein For Muscle Recovery

1. How does protein repair and rebuild muscle?

Protein is made up of amino acids, which act like building blocks for the body. When you eat protein after an activity, it gives your muscles the amino acids necessary to repair and rebuild.

And why is this important? Well, repetitive muscle contractions from jumping, running, and other forms of exercise can break down muscle cells and cause damage to the muscles in your arms, legs, and the rest of your body.

Taking in adequate protein after exercise helps reverse damage, build muscle, and get you ready for the next tough workout

2. How much protein do you need for muscle recovery?

“Protein synthesis” is the scientific way of saying “repairing and growing muscle.” Post-exercise intake of about 0.2–0.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (g/kg) has been shown to increase this muscle protein synthesis.1 That’s somewhere around 10–30 g of protein depending on your body weight, and the intensity and duration of your workout. The longer and more intense the exercise, the more protein is needed to optimize recovery. Over the course of the day, active individuals should aim to eat about 10–20 percent of their total daily energy intake from protein (or about 50–100 g, based on a 2,000-calorie diet). Athletes may need even more protein and should aim for 1.2–2 g/kg each day.1

While protein gets most of the glory when it comes to post-exercise fuel, carbohydrates have a role to play, too. In fact, carbohydrates and protein in a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio have been found to help maximize recovery by replenishing energy stores.

3. Why is it important to have protein right after a workout?

Intense or prolonged activity causes an increase in muscle protein breakdown. This is followed by an increase in muscle protein synthesis over the next 24 hours. For that reason, it’s important to consider both the amount of protein you eat and when you eat it.

Ideally, protein should be eaten within 30 minutes of finishing a workout. Combined with simple carbohydrates (i.e., sugar), your post-exercise snack can help both replenish energy stores and rebuild muscle. Miss the 30-minute window? While less effective, fueling any time after activity is still important and can be beneficial.

4. What type of protein is best after a workout?

From whole foods to supplements and animal- to plant-based proteins, there are many ways to meet your protein needs, and it can be confusing to navigate. Also known as complete proteins, high-quality proteins (those which are highly digestible and provide an adequate amount of essential amino acids, which our bodies can’t make) are most effective for building, repairing, and maintaining muscle.

High-quality food sources of protein include dairy, fish, meat, eggs, and soy. However, that’s not the only type of protein that’s useful. You’ve likely seen whey (from dairy) and plant-based protein powders, concentrates, and isolates on the market, too.

Like soy, pea protein is a plant-based protein that has been found to be effective for post-workout recovery and can be used by all athletes — even those who follow a vegan diet. Just keep in mind, pea protein is an incomplete protein, meaning it delivers fewer essential amino acids, so you may have to eat more to have the same recovery impact as whey or soy.

With that said, for most people, eating enough calories during the day and including a variety of plant-based foods in the diet can ensure adequate protein and amino acid intake. You don’t need to eat animal protein to support post-workout recovery; all types of protein can work.

5. What foods can help repair and rebuild muscle?

Whole foods are the foundation to a healthy diet, but a big, homecooked meal isn’t always convenient when on the move. Below are a few examples of nutritious, post-workout foods that can help promote recovery without slowing you down:


Quick At-Home Recipes:

  • Yogurt Parfait: 6 oz plant-based yogurt + half cup mixed berries + walnuts
  • Nut Butter Roll Up: 1 flour tortilla + 2 tablespoons nut butter + half sliced banana + drizzle of honey
  • Egg + Avocado Toast: 1 poached egg + 1 slice whole grain toast + half avocado
  • Open-Faced Turkey Sandwich: 2 slices of deli turkey (about 2 oz) + 1 slice whole grain bread + 1 slice of cheese (about 1 oz)
  • Recovery Smoothie: 2 tablespoons plant-based protein powder + half banana + 1 cup water or milk + ice (add 1 tablespoon nut butter for an extra protein punch!)

Recovery Cookies:


  • 1 cup nut butter
  • 6 dates, pitted, soaked in hot water, and mashed into a paste
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions: Mix together, bake at 350 for 10 min. Allow to cool before enjoying!



Tuesday, April 12, 2022

How To Set Realistic Fitness Goals


1. Focus on one goal at a time.

When it comes to setting a fitness goal, one of the biggest mistakes is that people try to do too much at one time. Perhaps you want to hit the gym every day, cut out added sugar, and get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Trying to tackle that much at once is essentially just setting yourself up for failure. With so many things to achieve, people get anxious, and if they didn’t do one thing, they feel like a failure. This can lead to negative self-talk that lowers your chances of achieving any of the goals.

Instead, pick one thing you want to crush—like, doing a pull-up, or completing your first-ever 5K—and channel your efforts into achieving that before exploring another goal.

2. Make it your own.

It can be easy to scroll through the Instagram or look at others in the gym and feel inspired-yet-envious of those who seem fitter. Yet basing your own goals off of what you see others achieving is neither productive nor practical.

When we are bombarded by images of what fitness should look like and how we should do XYZ, it can be hard to identify what’s good for you. Certain things that top athletes can do—run a marathon, do 100 push-ups, master the most challenging yoga poses—may be great for them, but it’s not metric that everyone should be measured by. In other words, your goal should be your goal—something that you personally are excited about and realistically able to achieve—not someone else’s.

3. Make it measurable, specific, and time-bound.

Having a measurable goal allows your to track your progress, says Vidal, and the more specific your goal, the clearer the path to achieving it becomes.

Wanting to “be stronger,” for example, is a great place to start, but what does that mean to you? Saying you want to increase the number of push-ups you can do makes the goal measurable, and saying you want to be able to do 20 push-ups in one minute makes it specific. On top of that, the goal should be time-bound, as this helps you focus your efforts, develop a more structured plan for actually achieving the goal, and creates a sense of urgency that can be motivating. Examples of measurable, specific, and time-bound goals include being able to deadlift 10 repetitions with 50 pounds in three months, running a 5K nonstop by the end of the year, and correctly performing a pull-up by the start of summer.

A great way to remember this is through the SMART method, which helps you make sure your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. 

4. Set the bar low—at least, at first.

Speaking of attainable: Your goal should seem relatively easy or within reach of what you are doing. Why? If you think it’s easy, you have likely already worked through any mental obstacles that could thwart your progress. On the confidence scale, you should be at a 9 out of 10 when it comes to your belief that you’ll actually achieve your goal. The less confident you are, the less likely you will adhere to the steps needed to make it happen.

Plus, attainable goals help ensure that you start out with some all-important wins. The more success you have in your fitness journey, the more you will stay with it. Having this success early on is especially important as it builds confidence that can snowball into long-term results.

5. Play the long game.

We all want instant gratification, but it’s important to be realistic with the time frame you develop for achieving your goal. Lasting changes take a while.

Know that you are never going to make an overhaul in one week. Instead, pick a goal that can be achieved over the course of several months or even a year. A long-term mentality will help you see your goal as a lifestyle change, rather than quick fix, and you’ll be much more likely to adhere to it.

6. Understand what’s driving your goal.

Sometimes fitness goals are driven by underlying fears, insecurities, or body image issues—like wanting to run a marathon because you were bullied in middle school gym class, or signing up for a CrossFit class because an ex once commented on your weight—and it’s important to address these issues rather than assuming achieving your goal will assuage them.

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, it can stir up a lot of emotions. If thinking about your goal brings anxiety and/or triggers past mental struggles, consider talking with a mental health professional. 

7. Be flexible in your definition of success.

Though it is important to make your goal specific, it’s also important to give yourself permission to alter it as you progress with your fitness journey. Perhaps a goal that seemed appropriately challenging at first is actually way too tough to maintain, or vice versa.

If your definition of success is rigid, it will be hard to maintain that. Set goals you think you can achieve and then modify them as you understand more what you are capable of. There's nothing wrong with moving the goal posts as you get more comfortable with your body's abilities.

8. Develop micro goals on the way to your big goal.

Within your larger goal you should schedule in smaller, confidence-building goals that are achievable in a shorter time period. For example, say you want to run a nine-minute mile. During your training, you should make a smaller goal, like running a half mile in five minutes, to both show yourself how much you've accomplished and assess where you currently are. It’s all about those little victories. You want to be able to reward yourself mentally. Having to wait too long to feel like you’ve accomplished anything can diminish your motivation and pull you off track entirely.

In general, it’s good to set micro goals that can be achieved every two to three weeks. That amount of time can help you determine if you’re macro goal is realistic and provide the chance to scale things back if needed.

9. Consider a professional’s input.

If you’re having a hard time evaluating your current fitness level, determining what would be a realistic goal, and/or just feeling overwhelmed about the process, it can be helpful to consult an expert, like a certified personal trainer. A professional can help give you guidance on how realistic your goal is and can help you set markers along the way, so you can check in and confirm you are on the right track over time.

A personal trainer should ask clients about various factors influencing their lifestyle, including their prior history with fitness (e.g. Have they trained before? Are they a former athlete? Do they have experience lifting weights?), their nutrition, their work and social history (e.g. Do they have a demanding, high-stress job? Do they go out frequently?, etc.). These questions aren’t to judge; they’re to understand. Once the trainer understand their life, they can create a program around that works for them.

On top of that the trainer can conduct several athletic tests—like endurance tests and strength tests—to assess someone’s baseline level of fitness. Though you can ask yourself these questions and conduct fitness tests on yourself, if you’re new to fitness, it may be helpful to get an expert’s input.

10. Be honest about your prior and current habits.

Asking yourself the tough questions can help you honestly evaluate what’s most appropriate for you. Have you been somebody who in the past has crushed several fitness goals and just wants to take it to the next level? If that’s the case, you could likely tackle a more complex goal, like running a long distance race at a certain pace.

But if you’re new to fitness, which of course is totally okay, you may want to focus on more simple behavior modifications, like going to the gym a certain number of days a week.

If you want to see measurable progression, you have to be realistic with what you are currently doing. If your routine doesn’t involve any form of exercise, suddenly getting yourself to the gym five days a week—while certainly possible—may not be the most practical or realistic goal.

On top of that, it’s helpful to consider what has stopped you from achieving goals in the past. If you have a chronically hard time getting up the morning, for example, sign up for evening workout classes rather than aiming for those 6 a.m. sessions. Being honest with yourself will help you identify and eliminate barriers before you get started.

11. Plan for a support system.

When thinking about your goal, you should also think about who in your life could encourage, motivate, and hold you accountable to it. Then recruit them whenever you're in need of support. If people you spend the most time with are supportive of your goals, it will make a huge difference.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Steps To Natural Hormone Balance


The dance of the endocrine system is complex, intricate, tightly regulated, and we are still in the midst of learning about it. 


The key players are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, adrenaline, insulin, and cortisol. All of these hormones have the ability to upregulate, down regulate, and turn each other on and off, all the while trying to keep YOU in homeostasis. When we are overwhelmed with stress, poor food choices, toxicity, pollution, contaminated water, and emotional traumas, it becomes very challenging to balance YOU.


The good news? There are a lot of things you can implement to help your hormones thrive. 


But first…


What IS the endocrine system?


All of your organs have a relationship with your hormones. This is what the endocrine system is in charge of. Your thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, ovaries, testicles, and pancreas secrete hormones into your bloodstream and the entire endocrine system works to create a healthy balance between them all. If just ONE hormone is out of whack, it can create a cascade of hormonal imbalance amongst the other hormones as well.


Symptoms of hormone imbalance can show up as anxiety, depression, mood swings, inability to sleep, weight gain, trouble losing weight, weight loss, digestive issues, constipation, fatigue, afternoon energy crashes, painful periods, heavy periods, missed periods, acne, headaches, PMS, low libido, changes in appetite, thinning hair, dry skin, and brittle nails.


Some common hormonal imbalance problems and symptoms include:


Estrogen dominance - sleep issues, changes in weight, heavy appetite, higher perceived stress, constipation, mood swings, swollen and tender breasts, headaches


PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) - fibrocystic breasts, acne, abnormal hair growth, mood swings, weight gain, infertility, blood sugar imbalance, and higher risk for diabetes


Low estrogen - decreased sex drive, irregular periods, brain fog, fine lines and wrinkles, fatigue, depression, mood swings


Low progesterone - breast tenderness, anxiety, irritability, menstrual cramps, mid-cycle spotting, headaches, fibrocystic breasts


Low testosterone - erectile dysfunction, muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue, mood swings


Hypothyroidism - weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, irritability, irregular periods, constipation


Hyperthyroidism - anxiety, thinning hair, weight loss, heart palpitations, IBS, trouble sleeping


Diabetes - weight gain, nerve damage, vision loss, trouble breathing, dry mouth, skin problems


Adrenal fatigue from cortisol imbalance - fatigue, muscle aches and pains, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, brain fog, and fertility issues


How does hormonal imbalance become an issue?


There are a wide range of hormonal disturbances that can cause imbalance. Things like diet, stress, medical history, genetics, AND exposure to toxins from the environment, household cleaners, and skin care regimens can all play a role in causing endocrine disruption. 


Specific causes of hormone imbalance:


  • Food allergies
  • Leaky gut
  • Consuming things like gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and excessive caffeine and alcohol
  • High levels of inflammation
  • Chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, some medications
  • High amounts of stress
  • Lack of sleep and rest


What can YOU do about it?


The awesome news? There are A LOT of simple steps you can implement into your life to naturally balance your hormones. 


1. Eat whole foods - No shocker that our first piece of advice is to eat a whole foods diet. Swapping processed carbs and sugar for healthy fats is crucial for hormone balance because your body needs a variety of fats to produce hormones optimally. Healthy fats are also important for lowering inflammation and promoting weight loss. Ditching the refined carbs, gluten, dairy, and sugar for healthy fats like butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, pasture-raised meats, as well as organically grown produce are all super important for hormone balance.

Favorite foods for hormone balance: Farm fresh eggs, pasture-raised meat and poultry, avocados, wild-caught salmon, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, apple cider vinegar, dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, homemade mayonnaise made with farm fresh eggs and avocado oil, olive oil, microgreens, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, herbs of all sorts, spices, berries when in season, and fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut


2. Exercise - Moving your body is super important for detoxification and hormone balance. Movement and sweating helps to regulate hormonal imbalances and lower inflammation. Whether you choose to go for a brisk walk, do a yoga class, or a short HIIT workout, it’s important to remember a few things.

  • Be consistent
  • Be mindful of duration and intensity - don’t overdo it
  • Progress steadily
  • Listen to your body

3. Supplements - Most humans are deficient in vitamins and minerals, requiring supplementation in order to properly fuel their body. It is difficult to get everything that we need from food, so supplementing becomes essential. Our hormones can’t maintain balance if our bodies aren’t getting the nutrients we need. 

Favorite supplements for hormone balance: Probiotics, Vitamin D, evening primrose oil, B Vitamins, liver supplements, Vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, fish oils, bone broth, adaptogens like ashwagandha and holy basil, digestive enzymes, mushrooms like reishi, chaga, and lion’s mane


4. Address emotional imbalances - If you are stressed out about your relationship, finances, your job, your health, or whatever it may be, your hormones cannot and will not flourish. It is so important to address stress, worries, fears, frustration, anger, and unforgiveness because all of these emotions can wreak havoc on your endocrine system. 


Go-to’s for addressing emotional imbalance:

  • Meditation
  • Self-reflection
  • Gratitude
  • Prayer
  • Deep breathing
  • Active forgiveness, even if the other person doesn’t know or care
  • Being in nature every day
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Warm bath

5. Play - Enjoying life is a must for optimal hormone health. Elevated stress, an unhealthy need for control, and the perfectionist mentality does nothing but deteriorate health. But play? It brings vibrancy and joy to your life, which will naturally encourage hormone balance. 


Some great forms of play:

  • Start a garden
  • Plant flowers or trees
  • Paint or color
  • Work a puzzle
  • Try a new recipe
  • Play with animals
  • Laugh with friends over dinner
  • Ride bikes… or your horse
  • Go on a trip to the beach
  • Watch a funny movie
  • Read a fantasy book
  • Dance 

6. Sleep - To set your body up to win, shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep every night in total darkness. Our stress hormones, like cortisol, are regulated at night - especially before midnight. Proper sleep helps our bodies to build energy and prepare for the day ahead. Try to be in bed before 10 p.m. Your body will thank you.


7. Hydration - Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Proper hormone production and regulation has a lot to do with staying hydrated. When we are dehydrated, it stresses our bodies and knocks hormones out of whack. Drink AT LEAST half of your body weight in ounces every day.


Great ways to hydrate:

  • Drink water - with or without ice
  • Add things like fresh lemon, lime, or cucumber to enhance flavor and add nutrients
  • Drink sparkling water WITHOUT added “natural flavors” - Spindrift uses real fruit
  • Herbal teas without caffeine

8. Essential oils - Majority of body care and household cleaning products have harmful toxins and chemicals in them that are very disruptive to our hormonal systems. Thankfully, there are essential oils that are great for cleaning and smelling good, all while adding health benefits to our bodies (AKA our endocrine system). There are endless oil brands and scents out there, but some of our favorites to diffuse and add to baths are:

  • Brands - Doterra or Young Living
  • Clary sage for treating PMS, PCOS, and infertility
  • Fennel for gut and thyroid health
  • Lavender for anxiety, depression, and emotional balance
  • Sandalwood to relieve stress and promote relaxation
  • Thyme to improve progesterone production and increase fertility

9. Detoxification - In order for your hormones to maintain a beautiful rhythm of balance, it is also important to focus on elimination. The liver is a major organ involved in regulating hormones, so setting it up to function properly is a must. A build of excess hormones, like estrogen, can cause imbalance if they aren’t passing through the liver and leaving the body through feces on a daily basis - and preferably more than once a day. 


How to detox your liver:

  • Rub castor oil on your stomach at night before bed
  • Drink detox teas with dandelion root, milk thistle, burdock root, and licorice root
  • Drink matcha or green tea
  • Eat dark and leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, herbs, and citrus fruits
  • Move your body
  • Deep breathing
  • Drink water

10. Seed cycling - Eating seeds throughout different times of the month can help to naturally balance hormones in a very gentle, but effective way. You will need sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.


On days 1-14 of the follicular phase, eat 1-2 tablespoons of fresh, raw flax seeds and/or pumpkin seeds for estrogen balance leading to ovulation.


On days 15-28 of the luteal phase, eat 1-2 tablespoons of fresh, raw sunflower or sesame seeds for progesterone balance leading to menses.


If you have irregular cycles, are pre-menopausal, or post-menopausal, no worries! You can start by following the moon phases. You can eat the flax seeds and pumpkin seeds from the new moon to the full moon. Eat the sunflower or sesame seeds from the full moon to the new moon.