As entrepreneurs, our brains are an essential part of our everyday lives. We need the ability to not only complete our day-to-day work, but also to dream up new ideas and creative solutions. Today's guest post is from Jess Cording, and she's breaking down the best foods to eat to support your brain.Read More
If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you've probably noticed my attempts at simplifying my life (such as here & here). For me it's been an ongoing task that requires frequent reminders and resets. But that's okay! That's life.
I've been thinking about it a lot again (maybe that urge to spring clean?). Not only in regards to physical objects, but also in regards to my business and obligations, as Jennifer mentions in number two below. Danielle Dowling recently asked, "Of everything on your to-do list, what could you live without?" that really made me stop and think.
So I'm excited to have Jennifer Scott from Spirit Finder on the blog today reminding us of the invaluable benefits of simplifying your life, plus plenty of tips to help us get there.
Many people tout the benefits of simplifying your life. On the surface, living a minimalist lifestyle may not sound appealing to everyone. But the many benefits to be gained from simplifying your life might just change your mind.
1 | Simplify Your Life to Save Money
Some people decide to simplify their lives due to financial stress. The many things and luxuries we indulge in only increase financial strain for those who are already financially crunched. By skipping luxuries we don’t really need, such as expensive vacations, frequent meals at high-priced, fancy restaurants, and the latest brand-name fashion trends can save substantial amounts of money that you can save for a rainy day or put to a good use, such as paying off credit card debt.
Skipping these luxuries doesn’t mean you have to give up the benefits of them, however. Instead of buying new clothes, shop at a used clothing store to snag trendy clothes and accessories without the brand-name price tag. Keep in touch with family and friends through conference calls and video chats instead of springing for a plane ticket for a family reunion. There are many ways to realize the end goals of the things you spend money on without the high cost.
2 | Simplifying Your Life Can Reduce Stress
Simplifying your life is about more than just “stuff.”
It also means minimizing your commitments and your schedule, as well as learning to say, “No,” to the things that you don’t truly have time for. By choosing to commit only to what you can realistically fit into your schedule, you’ll reduce stress and have more time to dedicate to the areas of your life that are most important to you.
For example, by avoiding over-committing, you’ll have more time to prepare healthy meals, get adequate sleep, and even exercise, all of which contribute to your overall health and well-being. When you take good care of yourself, you’re better able to cope with stress.
[further reading >> 38 Ways to Simplify Your Life + Feel More Peaceful]
3 | Be More Present by Simplifying Your Life
When you simplify your life – both your environment and your schedule – you’ll find that you’re able to be more present in the moment, attentive to the people you’re conversing with, and able to devote your full attention to whatever task you’re focused on. Being present allows you to develop mindfulness.
Being present can have dramatic impacts on your life; in fact, people who are more present tend to have greater charisma. Charisma, of course, is beneficial in many ways, from allowing you to excel in the workplace to enhancing your social life and opening doors to fantastic opportunities that you might otherwise miss out on if you were marginally focused, inattentive, or distracted.
4 | Gaining Time to Focus on Your Health and Personal Life Creates Balance
One of the biggest struggles adults face today is the challenge of balancing family and career. We wish for more time to spend with our children, more time to rest and recharge, and more time to pursue our career goals. There never seems to be enough time in the day, but simplifying your life can help to solve these challenges.
By simplifying your schedule, you can devote time to the various facets of your life that are most important. Decide to unplug every weekend, for example, and devote Saturday and Sunday to quality family time. When you make the decision to prioritize what matters and schedule time for it, you’ll feel less stressed and more balanced overall.
There are many benefits of simplifying your life; the four discussed here are merely a few of the major areas of life that reap rewards when you decide to live a simpler lifestyle. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of small, seemingly insignificant benefits that contribute to the greater sense of well-being and balance you’ll achieve by opting for a simplistic lifestyle.
Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression. She created her website, SpiritFinder.org, as a platform for advocacy on opening up about mental health. Through the site, she hopes to share the types of steps and success stories that can help others realize their own power. When she isn’t working on her website, she enjoys traveling, working with animals, and seeking out new friendships and adventures.
Running my own business often requires me to make tough choices about which tasks get the highest priority. Unfortunately, this often results in my health and fitness getting bumped further and further down the list when something urgent rolls in. (and everything business-related feels URGENT, right?) Being active and fit is not only great for your mental health, happiness, and overall well-being, but in turn benefits your business. This is why I'm so pleased to have Jennifer McGregor on the blog today.
She's sharing 5 tips for busy entrepreneurs like you and me to manage our time and fit great workouts in on a regular basis. #4 is the tip that's helped me the most. At the beginning of each week I try to schedule in which CrossFit classes I'll attend.
Please welcome Jennifer and read on for her super helpful tips.
Every woman wants to be healthy and fit, but finding the time to work out every day is easier said than done when you’re a busy, working professional. It’s a gripe shared by many working women these days who recognize the value of exercise in their daily routines yet can’t seem to squeeze out a precious extra hour or two each day. We can’t put more hours in a day, but we can find creative ways to burn some calories and fit in a workout despite a busy schedule.
Here are 5 exercise tips for the busy, working woman:
1 | Embrace Quick, Do-Anywhere Workouts
You’re not alone in your quest for better physical fitness while having absolutely zero hours to hit the gym. Some fitness pros have created quick, no-equipment workouts that you can do pretty much anywhere and anytime you have a few spare minutes. For instance, this workout by Jessica Padykula from SheKnows takes just 20 minutes and hits all the key areas using your body weight. If you do it right, you should finish fatigued.
2 | Choose Workouts Wisely for Maximum Benefit
Choosing moves that burn the most calories and tone your target areas will help you focus your efforts. Activities like swimming, squash, cycling, and running are all excellent ways to strengthen and tone muscles, boost overall energy, and get a cardiovascular workout all at once. Plus, they’re most effective when done with an exercise buddy who can be there to cheer you on!
3 | Get Your Workout in Early in the Morning
Yes, that means getting out of bed a half hour to an hour earlier, and it will probably be brutal for the first few days (or weeks). But the rewards are well worth it. After you get your heart rate up and your blood flowing, you’ll be wide awake and ready to take charge of your day. There are few other opportunities throughout the day to steal an extra hour, so take advantage of the wee hours of the morning before your day kicks into gear.
4 | Schedule Your Workouts Like You Schedule Meetings and Appointments
Get your planner out or open your calendar app and take a look at your schedule for the week ahead. If you have an open evening, schedule in time to hit a local yoga class that day. On days when you don’t have early-morning meetings at the office, plan to hit the gym before work. When you schedule in time for taking care of your health just as you do your other obligations, you’ll find that it’s easier to find the time—because you’ve already set it aside.
5 | Work Out at Home
For some busy working women, packing up your gym bag and driving to the gym is a major deterrent. After all, that adds more time to the overall obligation of getting your workout in. If this is a challenge for you, skip the gym and create a space in your home that you can use to work out whenever it’s convenient. Quick exercises like squats, push-ups, and tricep dips are easy to perform at home – no instructor needed. If you have a dog, take a morning or evening walk around the neighborhood or play a game of chase in the backyard. Exercising with your dog is a great option because it can be done right at home any time and feels more like playing than a workout!
Being a busy woman—mom, wife, daughter, employee, or whatever roles you’re juggling—doesn’t have to mean you can’t make your health and fitness a priority too. Use these tips to make a regular workout part of your healthy lifestyle, no matter how crazy your schedule.
Jennifer McGregor has wanted to be a doctor since she was little. Now, as a pre-med student, she’s well on her way to achieving that dream. She helped create PublicHealthLibrary.org with a friend as part of a class project. With it, she hopes to provide access to trustworthy health and medical resources. When Jennifer isn’t working on the site, you can usually find her hitting the books in the campus library or spending some downtime with her dog at the local park.
Last year I set two goals for myself. One was to not work on the weekends and the other was to get seven or more hours of sleep each night. There have been some bumpy moments along the way, but for the most part, I've managed to stick to these two rules. And let me tell you, the difference is HUGE. My energy levels are up. My productivity levels are up. My ability to focus is way up. So you can see how this would have a direct impact on business.
This is why I'm so excited to have our guest author, Jill Merkel, here today to talk to us about how your diet can affect sleep quality. Because not only do we want between 6 and 8 hours of sleep every night, we want those hours to be restful and rejuvenating. Jill is a Registered Dietitian, so she definitely knows her stuff. Read on to find out more about the foods you should eat for a better sleep.
Sleep is so important for the body and may be the first thing to go from the “to do” list when life gets busy. Some even wear their poor sleep habits as a “badge of honor,” re-emphasizing how busy they are or their lack of need for much sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for adults by the National Sleep Foundation is 7-9 hours. It’s not recommended to get less than 6 hours or more than 10 hours. A consistent sleep routine is better than a sporadic sleep pattern.
What Sleep Does For You
- Restores your body
- Repairs, strengthens, and rebuilds muscles
- Stimulates immune system
- Improves cognitive function, memory, and coordination
- Increases calcium retention and strengthens bone mass
Inadequate sleep can be described as shorter sleep duration or poor sleep quality. Sleep deprivation is 4 hours (or less) of sleep per night!
- Increases appetite, especially for high calorie, carbohydrate-rich foods
- Increases storage of calories as fat, especially around the abdominal area
- Increases inflammation
- Causes fatigue, low energy, slower recovery, and poor focus
- Increases risk of injury
Did you know that consuming certain foods might help you sleep better? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating a variety of foods and nutrients, including fruits, vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, low-fat dairy, nuts, and seeds. Consuming a well-balanced diet appropriate in calories is vital for maintaining a healthy weight, preventing certain disease states (obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and more), and aiding in overall health. But we often overlook the effects of certain foods on sleep quality.
Melatonin is a “sleep hormone” that helps to control your sleep and wake cycle. It is released when the sun goes down and alerts the body that it’s time to wind down. Melatonin supplements are a popular item because you can get them over the counter, but there are also foods that naturally contain melatonin.
- Goji Berries
- Tart Cherries
- Orange Bell Peppers
Lifestyle factors can also affect your sleep habits. Engaging in regular physical activity, limiting sitting and screen time, and finding ways to reduce stress will help to facilitate a regular, healthy sleep pattern.
Other Sleep Tips
- Limit screen time (computer, TV, cell phones) before bed (the light is stimulating to the brain)
- Avoid caffeine 4-5 hours prior to sleep
- Avoid eating a large meal before bed (if hungry, try a light protein-based snack such as a glass of low-fat milk or half of a turkey sandwich)
- Eye masks and earplugs can be useful, especially during travel
- Naps should be kept to less than one hour and not too close to bedtime
Sleep is important for overall health—weight loss/control, recovery, immune health, and cognitive function. Maintaining a healthy body weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and consuming a nutrient-dense, well-balanced diet can help facilitate better sleep quality.
Jill is a Registered Dietitian currently living in Minneapolis. She specializes in sports nutrition and works with athletes of all ages. She is passionate about helping others realize that small changes over time can lead to big results. She started her health & fitness blog RunEatSnap in order to provide quality nutrition information and to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle.
Staying focused is one of the hardest parts of running your own business. Most days my mind is all over the place, from thinking of social posts for a client to redesigning my own website...to "why is my cat throwing up on everything I love?"
So while this is still a work-in-progress for me, I wanted to share what has worked in the past and what I'll be trying again.
PLUS I've designed a very simple daily planner worksheet for you to apply to your own business.
8 Ways to Stay Focused & Stop Procrastinating in Your Business
Use a Timer
If I find myself procrastinating on a specific project, I tell myself I only have to work on it for 10 minutes. Then I set a timer and get to work.
I either get into the groove and work on it longer, or get some work done in that 10 minutes and come back to it later. Most times it's the former. For some reason, just starting the task is the hardest part.
There are specific techniques you can use if you want to get fancy. I've tested the Pomodoro technique for time management after reading Holly's post on balancing work and blogging. But I've also used the basic E.ggtimer.
Batch Similar Tasks
You've probably heard by now that responding to email and checking social media all throughout the day is hurting your productivity.
I've heard this a million times and am still guilty of doing both, but when I DO batch similar tasks together, I get more done.
Think about everything you have to do in a given week, or even just a day, and separate the tasks into similar groups. Designate a few specific times throughout the day where you'll respond to emails, check your phone, and check social media.
If you're a health coach or life coach, lump all of your coaching sessions for the day together, if possible.
Establish a Routine
This is actually one of the hardest ones for me. I have some kind of natural inclination to hate routines, but yet I know how effective they are.
Establishing a routine helps your body and mind get into a groove. It also helps you focus on the task at hand because your day is already planned out.
Make sure to include regular self-care and exercise into your routine. If you make it a habit, you'll see better results overall.
I started writing a paragraph with "My loose routine includes..." but it just made me realize how bad of a job I'm doing lately. The past few weeks I wake up anywhere from 6-8am, get coffee, write for an hour or so if I don't get sidetracked by an email, look at my phone approximately 578 times, dig into client work for about 6 hours, then either drive an hour to Crossfit or continue working until I realize it's 9pm. Somewhere in there I remember to eat. SO, you can see I have a lot to work on myself! I've gone through periods of great discipline and focus, but we all go through these days/weeks/seasons. I promise you.
Keep Your Blood Flowing
Exercise is so important to staying focused. It keeps blood flowing and releases neurotrasmitters that help increase cognitive function.
Schedule in breaks to stretch throughout the day, as well as trying to establish a workout routine. This doesn't mean you have to do the same workout every day, or commit yourself to a specific program like I did. Just setting up any exercise routine will help.
It could be a long walk around your neighborhood or trying different classes at your local gym. Whatever keeps you interested and keeps your blood pumping.
Sometimes blocking out time for tasks isn't enough. You may need to close all open browser tabs, remove your cell phone from your office or install an app that blocks social media channels.
There was a point when I was experimenting with the Pomodoro technique mentioned above, but I still had my phone in my office. While the timer was running I didn't check my phone, but hearing it buzz or light up was still distracting and caused a lot of anxiety knowing I had to wait to look at it. When I completely removed it from sight, it was much easier to forget about.
While I recommend reading and engaging with other bloggers, sometimes it can be distracting from doing your actual work.
Try limiting the number of blogs you read per week or limiting the amount of time you spend reading them. For example, set aside 30 minutes every morning to scroll through your RSS feed and only click on the posts that grab your attention the most. Then mark all as read and move on with your day.
It's true that I get a lot of ideas from reading other blog posts but some of that time would be better spent implementing the things I learned or ideas that were sparked. Most of us spend so much time consuming information and too little time implementing our ideas.
Prioritize Your Tasks
“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.” -Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Get organized in the morning (or the night before). Plan out what you need to do that day.
One of my favorite questions is, "What 3 things can I do today that will have the biggest impact on my overall goals?"
Then I also do a brain dump of all my other ideas so I don't lose them. Having everything visually laid out helps me prioritize and gives me more time to think about the smaller ideas. They're still written down, but I have more time to process how much impact they'll really have. Don't just use the brain dump area when you're planning; use it throughout the day as you accomplish your listed tasks, then re-address the ideas later.
One thing I cannot recommend enough is to do the hardest or "worst" task first thing in the morning so it's not zapping your energy and hanging over your head all day.
Below you'll find a simple daily planner I've designed to help you stay organized in the easiest way possible.
Lastly, pause and think about why you're procrastinating on that particular task. If it's taking up too much time (even just mental energy to avoid it), it might be time to outsource it or eliminate it completely.
Is there a deeper reason you're avoiding it? Does your gut tell you it's not the right thing to do? I love this post on how procrastination can be productive.
Ready to stay focused + procrastinate less? Download this super-simple daily planning worksheet to get started today.
Chances are over the next few days you might be returning to your hometown, seeing family you haven't seen in ages, reconnecting with old friends, or even just getting a chance to take a few deep breaths.
This post is just a reminder to be mindful and stay in the moment over the next few days.
Put your phone down at Thanksgiving dinner.
Tell your parents or your grandparents something you're grateful for that they've done. Something that has taught you a lesson or helped you along the way.
On Thanksgiving, don't feel guilty about eating the pie. Just be grateful for the food on the table.
If you don't get to spend this holiday with friends and family, take some time for yourself. Read a novel or spend the day binge watching your favorite show in your pajamas.
Just do something that will make you happy and relaxed.
Not only should you pause to be in the moment with loved ones, but this break is vital to your business success.
Take a moment to think of what you're doing when you get your best ideas, or finally solve a problem you've been struggling with.
You're usually in the shower, or driving, or out on a hike, right? Something that has removed you from the situation and your normal work environment.
It's the end of 2015, so you've likely been reflecting on what you've accomplished this year and planning your goals for 2016. There are probably a million things you'd like to do.
If you pause and remove yourself from the planning and day-to-day work, you'll return with more clarity for the next year.
So let's all pause for clarity.
A few months ago I saw a Facebook ad for this lovely little health tracker I had never heard of before. I clicked through to the site and sent it to my sister, gushing about how cool it looked.
I already owned a Fitbit Flex that I had worn every day for about a year and a half, so I was hesitant to buy a second tracker.
I contacted Bellabeat to see if I could test out the product, and to my delight, they agreed! The following review is not sponsored and all opinions are my own. The only compensation I received was the health tracker and accessories.
From the Bellabeat LEAF website:
An entirely new way to take care of your body and mind
The LEAF brings a new level of quality to your life. A beautifully designed health tracker that helps you monitor your activity, sleep quality, stress levels, and understands your menstrual cycle. It helps you improve specific aspects of your daily routine so you can feel your absolute best.
The most personalized wearable device
You are unique in every way. The LEAF understands what makes you tick and gives you personalized insights for you to feel energized and ready to own your life. The LEAF is designed to allow you to be creative in the way you wear it. Wear it as a necklace or bracelet with LEAF accessories or items you already own. You can also clip the LEAF to any clothing item as a stylish accent. You choose what fits your style best in any given occasion.
We found a way to give technology the touch of nature
We shape the LEAF the same way nature shapes the curves of every single leaf on every tree. Made of 100% American wood, each LEAF is unique, just like the person wearing it. Its advanced technology is hidden inside a 100% American wooden housing, giving it a soft natural appeal that isn’t found in other wearables.
My experience with the LEAF:
- The design is truly beautiful, and I love the different ways to wear it.
- The app interface is also really attractive.
- The 6 month battery is an awesome feature. The Fitbit battery would last about a week, and I can't tell you how many times I forgot to charge it.
- The LEAF is made with a woman's overall health in mind, with stress reduction and cycle tracking features.
How I wear it:
I clip it to my clothing whenever I'm sleeping or exercising, then usually wear the bracelet other times. The necklace is easier, but I love how the bracelet looks.
For the first two days I wore both my Fitbit and LEAF to compare how the steps are tracked. They matched up pretty closely, so I'd say the LEAF is accurate. There is a bit of a difference depending on whether you wear it clipped to clothing vs. as a bracelet, but Bellabeat has recently updated the app so you can choose how it was worn.
The app was also recently updated to track activity (similar to the "active minutes" for Fitbit). There are limited activities you can input as well.
The LEAF automatically tracks your sleep (whereas you have to turn that part on for FitBit). It's almost always accurate too, but if not, you can adjust it.
I've never really tracked my cycle before, so that aspect was interesting. The app shows an estimate of when you're ovulating. I take an oral contraceptive, however, so I don't believe this aspect applies to me.
I'll be honest, I haven't used the breathing exercises, but I think it's a great feature. It will also buzz if you are inactive for too long.
There are many more features I haven't mentioned, so be sure to check out the website.
A Few Differences Between Fitbit Flex vs. LEAF:
- The LEAF is 'splash proof' while the Fitbit is water resistant.
- You cannot track food or water with the LEAF app. (I still use the Fitbit app to track my water intake). I am betting there will be an app update for this within the year, though.
- The LEAF is able to predict your sleep for the night vs. manual tracking in Fitbit.
- The silent alarms on LEAF are gentle and quiet.
**To be clear, I would recommend both the band the LEAF. It just depends on the functionality you're looking for. The LEAF has more support for your mental well-being, while the FitBit has more support for weight loss.
The LEAF is relatively new, so I expect even more great things to be available in the app during 2016.
My contact at Bellabeat has also hinted at a few surprises for the holiday season, so I'm excited to find out what those are! At $119, it would make a perfect gift.
These lovely trackers have a waiting list, so I recommend heading over to the website and signing up!
The importance of health while building your business is kinda my thing. Because I strongly believe that when you feel your best, you'll do your best. My motivation comes and goes just like everyone else, but there are little things I do to keep going. When I'm active and eating mostly whole foods, I definitely notice a boost in my productivity and really, my mood overall.
Today I want to touch briefly on the ways physical activity can help your business, then introduce you to a lovely new brand of activewear I've fallen in love with.
3 Ways Physical Activity Helps Your Business
- Improve alertness + mental focus by increasing blood flow to the brain
- Increase energy to accomplish your goals
- Better handle stress, while decreasing feelings of depression + anxiety
[Further reading: Exercise Increases Productivity from Huffington Post]
Fabletics Activewear Review
Lately I've found myself in workout clothing about 75% of the time. Since I've started CrossFit and have continued yoga (plus work from home), I decided it was time to invest in some higher quality gear.
I've heard great things about Fabletics and it did not disappoint! In fact, I'm very impressed and have been telling everyone.
Fabletics is Kate Hudson's line of activewear. Each style fits flawlessly and is designed with the most high-performing, quality materials.
The sign-up promotions change every so often, but when I signed up the offer was to get your first outfit for $19.98 with free shipping. (Now, February 2018, the offer is for 2 leggings for $24.) Then I signed up for the VIP membership because you get up to 40% off, personalized recommendations each month, and there's no commitment to buy. So there's really no risk!
Here's a breakdown of what I got in my first two orders:
Items 1 + 2: Pryor Tank + Camacan Capri in Black/Pop Pink Stripe
For my first order ($19.98) I chose these capri pants and black tank. As soon as I put the capris on I knew I was in love. They're made for maximum compression, so they're tight, but they're still flattering and comfortable. It's exactly what I was looking to wear for CrossFit so they wouldn't move around. Having to stop to adjust pants is the worst.
I didn't get a good picture of the back, so here's the one on the site:
It's loose fitting, so it's not the most flattering, but I prefer workout tops to be loose. It's comfortable and I've worn it a few times to workout already.
The next tank isn't loose, but I still love it.
Items 3 + 4: Kenyon Tank + Salar Leggings in Dark Plum
I love the detail on the back of the tank, and the material quality for both is excellent.
The leggings are maximum compression like the capris I mentioned above. So they stay in place whether I'm doing yoga or CrossFit.
Item 5: Freya Long-sleeved Top
This is the main reason I placed a second order with Fabletics, immediately after receiving my first outfit. I had been eyeing this top the first time but held off. After I got the first order and loved it (along with finding out my sizing guess was correct) I ordered this before it sold out.
I love the versatility of the Freya top. In fact, the first time I wore this involved a late night cartwheel on a sidewalk in Pittsburgh. You just never know when you'll need to be active.
I highly recommend taking a look at the website and at least trying one outfit. You can't beat the price.
Fabletics did not sponsor this post, but they do have an affiliate program. If anyone orders through my affiliate link, I'll receive $20. So check it out, place an order, and set up your own affiliate link! You'll love it that much.
In September, I took the first real vacation off from work in about three years. Earlier in the summer I had implemented what I call "no-work-weekends," but that's really not enough.
Did you know that studies show after about 50 hours a week, productivity actually starts to go down?
While working less than 50 hours a week isn't realistic for some entrepreneurs, I urge you to schedule vacations and breaks into your life for your sanity, health AND business success. They aren't just luxuries. They are completely necessary.
6 Reasons Vacations are Vital
Your mind needs time to relax in order to foster creativity.
Have you ever found that when you step away from a problem, such as taking a shower, the answer to something you've been working on hits you?
This Huffington Post article claims, "It's been proven that allowing your brain to day-dream allows you to better solve problems and be more creative."
Put things into perspective
If you keep moving full-steam ahead in your business, you can lose track of your intentions and miss signs that things don't feel right. Stepping back gives you the chance to realign.
This past spring/summer I've been in a transitional period in my life + business. Taking time off has allowed me to step back and think about which direction I'd like to go in.
Try new things
Vacations are the perfect opportunity to try new things, and as I mentioned in this post about the secrets to happiness, this is a vital building block of a happy life.
Trying new experiences and surrounding yourself with different environments will help inspire creative solutions inside your business or job.
While I was in Estes Park, CO I tried a few new things, such as hiking in the Rocky Mountains and watching a blue grass performance in the park.
Vacations are also a great way to force yourself to disconnect.
While I still had my phone, I purposely left my laptop at home. I put up auto-responders and warned my clients weeks ahead of time that I would be unavailable. There were a lot of places in the mountains where I didn't even get reception, so that was a bonus.
Because we're constantly connected, there's a decrease in true bonding time with friends and family. Getting out of your normal environment, trying new things and disconnecting will help bring you closer to those you're with.
Improve your health
According to an article in the New York Times, "Those who failed to take annual vacations had a 21 percent higher risk of death from all causes and were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack."
Plus, hiking in the Rocky Mountains re-inspired me to be more active and return to healthier eating habits. Sometimes we all need a little jump start.
The same article says, "After a few days on vacation — and it usually took two to three — people were averaging an hour more of good quality sleep. And there was an 80 percent improvement in their reaction times."
Better sleep, health, and increased reaction times translate to increased productivity. You'll be able to do more in less time with better focus.
In the Comments:
Where will you go on your next vacation?
Doesn't fall always seem a little exciting? Students are headed back to school, we're all coming off the excitement of summer and ready to get a little more serious. Or...maybe that's just me, while everyone else is thinking about football.
But in case I'm not alone, I wanted to do a quick round-up of my favorite healthy bite snacks to keep us all going!
They're known by a variety of names, but I'll stick with Lindsay's since she's kinda known for them ;-)
Healthy bites are perfect to whip together on a Sunday afternoon so you have a healthy snack to grab through the week. They're super portable, so you can take them to the office, while traveling, etc. Plus, they're so versatile you won't get sick of them.
I love them so much I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to them! Below I've chosen 5 of my favorites that don't require food processors. Enjoy!
Healthy Snack Bites Recipe Round-up
This is my go-to:
Image Credit >> Cotter Crunch
In the Comments:
What are your favorite portable healthy snacks?
Running your own business can feel like a whirlwind sometimes. Between client work, working on your business, and trying to fit in time for family and friends, it's easy to let self-care take a back seat. But it's so important to the success of your business and your own fulfillment. You can't help others from an empty tank.
Here are 4 of my favorite tools for staying healthy as a business owner: *These are not affiliate links, just tools I love!
Headspace is an app for guided meditation. I've tried a variety of guided meditations before, but I connected best with this one.
Meditation is the perfect partner for entrepreneurs because it can:
- Improve productivity at work
- Improve creative thinking
- Lower blood pressure / promote relaxation
- Help with insomnia
- Lower anxiety
Those are just a few of the benefits of meditation, of course. If you're interested in learning more from a modern perspective, I highly recommend the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris.
I don't think I need to tell you guys why it's important to exercise. However, not only is it good for your body, but the increased blood flow to your brain will help in a multitude of ways for your business. Plus, there's a good chance that you sit for long hours in front of the computer each day, so you need to get the blood flowing.
Yoga is one of my favorite ways to move because it can help balance out your mind and your body. I have a new-found love for acroyoga because it's the only exercise that has been able to completely keep me in the moment. When I'm focused on balancing my body and moving through the air with the support of someone else, there is literally no room in my brain to think about anything else.
I can't always make it to a yoga class, though, so I often use online videos. Reflexionyoga.com has been my favorite so far because I can filter through and find a class that fits what I'm in the mood for.
You can get to know the founder Kyle Weiger in this Chasing Dreams Interview.
3. Fitbit Flex
I've been using my Fitbit Flex for nearly 2 years and still love it. I've even kept it on through important business presentations and events. It's basic enough that I don't feel weird wearing it in any situation.
A few ways I use my Fitbit Flex:
- Steps - It was pretty eye-opening to see how little I was walking some days. It's too easy to get caught up sitting in front of the computer working. I can't say I meet my goal most days (10k steps) but I've been improving.
- Alarms - I set an alarm to go off every hour throughout the work day to remind myself to get up and move.
- Water Intake - The default goal in the app is 64 oz, but I upped mine to 85 oz. By tracking my water I've been able to figure out my ideal hydration level.
- Sleep - I usually forget to track my sleep, and when I do it's always alarming how many times I'm restless and awake through the night, but at least it's a good reminder to keep exercising, meditating and focusing on self-care.
Reading is my favorite way to unwind. I think everyone should take time to read fiction or something outside their normal industry daily, or at least weekly.
Benefits of reading fiction:
- Improves empathy
- Enhances connectivity in the brain
- Improves your writing
- Enhances memory
- Boosts analytical thinking
- Reduces stress
In the Comments:
What are your favorite tools for staying healthy as an entrepreneur?
Today’s post is from Emily Hein, private practice dietitian and food/wellness blogger at Zen and Spice. She's one of my favorite wellness bloggers to follow and has great advice on living a balanced life.
Our lives are so rushed. We’re trying to get a list of tasks done, and finish as much as we can each day, speeding along in our lives to our next destination. We rush what we need to do there so we can move to the next. We’re overwhelmed by what feels like non-stop, never ending demands and to-do lists. Our smartphones keep us always connected with work demands.
At the end of the day, we’re exhausted. Our minds are over-stressed from the busyness. We don’t have time for what’s important to us, what we really want to be doing, and for spending time with our loved ones. But we don’t have to live like this. We can enjoy a simpler life; we only need to choose to. That’s what mindfulness is about. Being mindful of what we are doing in the present moment, taking our time, and only thinking about what can be done in the present moment.
Meditation and mindfulness helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us “rest and digest”—opposite of the sympathetic nervous system, which is associated with the fight or flight response. We may not be running from a wooly mammoth, but stress from work and home life creates the same type of response in our bodies.
Here are some questions to ask yourself the next time you feel stressed about a big “to-do” list. If you don’t have enough time in your day to take care of yourself, it may be time to eliminate some things so you can.
What’s really important?
It may be your family, a spouse, children, doing well at your job, blogging three times per week, or running a ten minute mile. Step back and look at what’s really important to you. What do you really want to be doing? Are you being you? Or are you doing things you think you should be doing? Make a list of things that are truly important to you. Then do them.
What are your true commitments?
We have too many commitments in today’s world. We can’t do everything that we say we’re going to do. Just accept this. Do what’s important to you and eliminate what isn’t.
Do you have enough time to take care of yourself?
If you don’t have time in your schedule to cook yourself a balanced meal, incorporate physical activity, relax or meditate, then you’re doing too much. It’s not worth being insanely busy if your body and mind take a hit. If your body and mind aren’t functioning at their best, it will be hard to put your best self forward. You don’t have to go to the gym every day, but just focusing on moving more throughout the day can make a huge difference. Meal planning and grocery shopping ahead of time can help you eat healthy during busy weeks.
How much are you trying to do per day?
We only have twenty four hours in a day. Don’t fill up your day with tasks. If you try to do ten tasks per day (and fail), do three important ones instead. Save the others for the next day. Complete your three tasks with mindfulness and don’t try to rush through them.
What can you eliminate?
Simplify your to-do list down to the essentials. Again, you can’t do everything. Even if you could, more things will probably pop up. Do you really need to cook dinner, fold laundry, write a blog post, sweep the floor and do the dishes in the next two hours? What can you save for later or tomorrow? What can you delegate to others?
With that said, slow down and enjoy every task. Whatever you’re doing, do it with a sense of calm. Whether it be taking a shower, cooking dinner, or driving. Just slow down. You do not need to complete this task at record speed. Pay attention, instead of thinking about other things. Be in the moment. It sounds silly to “be in the moment” while you’re brushing your teeth, but this is the simplest step you can take to become more mindful in your life.
Have you simplified your life? What have you cut out? What do you slow down and pay attention to?
Emily Hein is a private practice dietitian and food/wellness blogger based out of Dallas, Texas. She thinks eating should be easy and pleasurable-- not a hassle! On her blog you’ll find easy recipes using natural ingredients, intuitive eating advice, and meditation & mindfulness tips. She aims to inspire her clients and readers to fuel their body with real, unprocessed food and live for mindfully and in the present moment.
Hi! I’m Tara from Treble in the Kitchen and I am so happy to be guest blogging for Danielle today! Danielle and I connected a while back, and I have loved keeping up with her healthy approach to running your own business. She has so much good advice to offer! Treble in the Kitchen is my little corner of the web where I love sharing my latest kitchen experiments (mostly healthy, some not!), my latest workouts, and bits and pieces of my life.
While I am a Bodypump instructor and certified personal trainer, I recently started going to school full-time to fulfill my longtime dream of becoming a Registered Dietitian. The great thing about my schooling is that I am doing it through a DISTANCE learning program, which means I get to create my own schedule and I can work from home…much like an entrepreneur!
That being said, I completely understand that when you work from home you really are working all the time, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but does make it difficult to squeeze activity and fitness into the day.
I’ve created a great arm workout that focuses on light weight and high repetition. I love to use this workout as a little screen-time break in the middle of my day, but you could tag this workout on to an outdoor run or walk or fit it in wherever YOU feel the need to move your body.
- 2 light dumbbells (around 5 lbs)
- Mat, optional
Complete 20 repetitions of each exercise and repeat the circuit 2-3 times. Focus on keeping the body in alignment, bracing your midsection, and maintaining good form.
*If you are making any major changes to your fitness routine, please make sure to speak with a medical professional first!
Boat Pose with Drawbridge Arms: Sit with your upper back at a 45 degree angle. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground. Feet should be hip distance apart, and you can lift them off the ground to engage the ab muscles getting into boat pose. Hold one dumbbell in each hand with your arms in a goal post position, both arms in 90 degree angles. While maintaining the angle in your arms, lower the weights to the ground so your forearms are parallel to the floor. Bring the arms back to starting position and repeat 20 times.
- Plank with Single Arm Bicep Curl: Begin in plank position, while holding onto two dumbbells. Hands should be under your shoulders and feet slightly wider than your hips. Lift one arm, while keeping the hips square to the ground. Extend the arm out away from the body, then curl the dumbbell in towards your shoulder targeting your bicep. Return back to the extended position and repeat the exercise 20 times on this side before repeating on the other side. This can be completed on the knees if your hips are moving.
- Plank Tricep Kickback: Begin in plank position, holding on to two dumbbells as described above. Keeping the elbow in close to the body, draw the elbow up so the weight is right by your ribcage. Extend the arm backwards, targeting the tricep muscle (the back of the arm). Bring the weight back to starting position and repeat the exercise 20 times on this side before repeating on the other side. This can be completed on the knees if your hips are moving.
- Boat Pose with Pec Fly: Return to boat pose as described in the first exercise. Hold one dumbbell in each hand as you extend your arms out in front of your body. As you keep the belly button pulled into the spine and the ribs hugged close together, open and close the arms to target the chest muscles. Repeat 20 times.
- W Arms: Place your feet flat on the ground and sit with your upper body at a 45 degree angle. Hold one dumbbell in each hand and extend your arms out from your shoulders at 45 degree angles. Draw your elbows down towards your waist line and create a W shape with your arms. As you make this motion, squeeze your shoulder blades together to target the upper back. Repeat 20 times.
Enjoy the workout!
Today's post is written by Julie Hays. Writer, health-nut and mama of two little girls, Julie is on a mission to empower others to live natural, healthy lives free from the continual microbiome depletion that many of us face today. You can find more of her work at GutHealthNews.org. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Most of us know that a weakened immune system can leave us feeling run down and vulnerable to sickness, but the truth is, until we find ourselves coming down with a cold, most of us are guilty of neglecting or even just forgetting about our immune system health. While it’s true that our immune systems are powerful weapons against deadly disease and bacteria, they’re also very vulnerable, and can be easily weakened, overstimulated or damaged by elements of modern living.
So how can we hone immune health? And what steps can we take to ensure that our immune systems remain in tip-top shape year round? Consider these six essential steps for optimizing your immune system naturally.
Yep, you guessed it - diet plays a HUGE part in strengthening your immune function. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet is known for its overconsumption of processed foods, saturated fats, refined grains and sugar - the very culprits shown to suppress immune function, cause bodily malfunction and leave the door open for pathogens to enter freely.
A healthy immune system depends on a balance of vitamins and minerals, which is why proper nutrition is SO important! For optimal immune health, focus on a balanced diet rich in immune-boosting nutrients such as…
- Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, bell peppers and brussel sprouts.
- Vitamin E, found in almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds, is a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection.
- Vitamin B6 plays a critical role in immune system function. Bananas, lean chicken breast, cold-water fish and chickpeas are great sources of vitamin B6.
- Vitamin A, another powerful antioxidant, can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe and squash.
- Prebiotics trigger the growth of good bacteria in the digestive system, building a strong immune response against unwanted foreign bacteria. Garlic, onions, bananas, and unrefined whole grains (like steel-cut oats) are great sources of prebiotics.
- Folate/Folic Acid, found in beans and dark, leafy green vegetables, is key for maintaining immune health.
- Zinc increases killer cells that fight against disease and helps white cells release more antibodies. Oysters, red meat, lamb, pumpkin seeds and beans are all loaded with this essential, immune-strengthening mineral.
Did you know that one in four American women doesn't exercise at all? And according to research, that’s an easy way to set yourself up for sickness. In fact, one study found that those who exercised for at least 20 minutes a day, five times a week experienced 43% fewer days sick than those who exercised once a week or less.
Exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells (the disease-fighting cells), allowing them to circulate more rapidly, so they’re able to detect and fight illnesses earlier than they might have before.
One of the number one reasons given for not exercising is a lack of time. But the good news is, you don’t have to run a marathon to keep your immune system in pristine shape! Experts say that just 30 minutes of aerobic activity —a brisk walk counts— is enough to sweep white blood cells back into circulation, allowing your immune system to function at its best. And just think of all of the time you will save in sick days!
HIT THE HAY.
A lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your immune function. Researchers from The University of Chicago found that patients who only slept four hours a night for one week produced half the amount of flu-fighting antibodies in their blood compared with those who slept 7½ to 8½ hours a night for the same time period.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to cause a reduction in T-cells (a type of white blood cell essential for immunity) and an increased production of inflammatory cytokines, potentially leading to a greater risk of developing a cold or flu. And if you do get sick, poor sleep quality can also negatively affect the time it takes your body to recover. Simply put - your immune system needs sleep to do its job!
Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted rest every night. Try bumping your nightly routine back an hour earlier and turning off TV and electronics a few hours before bedtime to let your body’s natural responses kick in. Your immune system will thank you!
We know that stress is bad for our mental health, and research shows that it’s capable of causing just as much mayhem to our physical health. Stress overload has been shown to increase the hormone, cortisol, which, if prolonged, can suppress immune function.
Researchers have long suspected a link between our immune function and mental health state. One study has even suggested an interesting link in seasonal affective disorder and immune health, citing a lack of sun exposure as one of the possible causes for our increasingly stressed and sickly modern society. A lack of sun exposure can actually keep the body from producing Vitamin D, which is essential to immune function. So aim to spend some time every day (15 to 20 minutes) outside in the sunshine.
In addition to getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine, try implementing some daily stress-reducing practices. Activities such as deep breathing and meditation, yoga or stretching, or even keeping a gratitude journal have been shown to reduce overall stress levels and improved well-being.
Did you know that 80 percent of your body’s immune system cells reside in the GI Tract? The human gut is actually home to trillions of microbes, and your immune system depends on a strong presence of good bacteria (also called probiotics) to help keep the bad bacteria from gaining a foothold on your body and your health.
Unfortunately, a range of factors like the widespread use of antibiotics, toxins in our food and environmental elements have disrupted the bacterial balance, putting major stress on our gut environment leading to an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria and a weakened immune system.
Probiotics are a quick and easy way to get your immune system back on track and achieve overall wellness. Rather than simply stimulating or boosting the immune system, probiotics get to the root, and help fortify the immune system at its core by delivering a large dose of live, good bacteria directly to your GI tract, where the majority of your immune system lives. This good bacteria colonizes, making it harder for disease causing bacteria to settle in.
There are plenty of vitamins and minerals available for immune system support. In addition to probiotics, the most important ones to consider are Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea. One other immune enhancer that you will likely be hearing more about in the near future is a fermented yeast superfood called EpiCor.
Unlike most immune ingredients, EpiCor balances rather than stimulates immune response. This means that it gives you exactly what you need, when you need it. In addition to strengthening your immune system on multiple levels, EpiCor has been shown in various clinical studies to activate NK (Natural Killer) cell activity within two hours of consumption. Recent studies even indicate that EpiCor may initiate an anti-inflammatory response.
If you are already counting the supplement bottles to add to your medicine cabinet, I have good news for you: there is one immune system and daily wellness formula that combines all of the above, and it’s called Hyperbiotics Immune. This unique formula is fortified with Vitamin C, Echinacea, chelated Zinc and EpiCor for maximum immune support. These key ingredients, along with five of the most proven probiotic strains, work together to address your immune health at its core. This formula is also made with a patented controlled delivery method that makes the probiotics 15x more effective than standard capsules, and the other ingredients more bio-available.
Prioritizing immune health goes far beyond protecting us from the common cold and is one of the most simple, yet important, things we can do. Having optimal immune function empowers us to live more healthy days and happier, more vibrant lives.