Maybe you have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Maybe the winter just makes you a little sad, or you think it does. Regardless, a fair number of people experience the
winter blues, and unless it’s extremely serious (or even if it is), dietary changes may not be the worst thing for you. The idea of eating plenty of vitamins while simultaneously exercising more is helpful. However, you could also try specific foods, knowing that they are targeted to help you.
Sweet potatoes can come in handy around Thanksgiving, and there are plenty of other reasons to eat them. They are sweet, and I actually like them with sweet potato burritos. However, they have been shown to help you to prevent the winter blues.They are packed full of essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C as well as fiber, and the amino acid tryptophan (yes the same one found in turkey). Sweet potatoes can reduce inflammation and improve function in the intestinal tract. In fact, your blood sugar could be better regulated, preventing unnecessary mood swings. To top it off, they’re cheap.
This is not the only reason why you should try eating more leafy greens. Leafy greens keep you healthy with essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, etc. They are some of the best foods for you to eat all year round, not just in the winter. Some leafy greens are actually rich in omega fatty acids and phytonutrients, and ultimately, they require no cooking. In fact, you could even put them in smoothies with other foods for a meal supplement or even a cleanse.
I wouldn’t eat onions like oranges. Some people do eat them this way, but onions can be found in plenty of recipes. They are full of vitamins, and certain vitamins in onions can improve mood and alleviate depression while also providing healthy antioxidants to fight problematic free radicals. By helping the liver to remove toxins from your system and aiding in digestion overall, onions could be your perfect friend.
I know, you’ve heard all about the benefits of milk, but actually, oranges have quite a bit of calcium. They help to fulfill your daily calcium requirements, which can fight depression and stress while also maintaining healthy bones without the hormones that they always talk about found in milk and other dairy products. Oranges also happen to be super high in vitamin C.
Pumpkin seeds have high amounts of the amino acid tryptophan (found in turkey), which can be relaxing and also make you happier. With just a small amount, you get 13 grams of protein per serving, and they promote alkalinity in the body. This can help you to reduce inflammation in the body associated with stress, and it can fight the effects of a poor diet. Of course, you should improve your diet overall, but it never hurts to get a jump start.
Avocados can be made into so many great forms. You can eat avocados alone and also in guacamole among other things. They are packed with healthy fats, amino acids, healthy vitamins and minerals, and other nutrients. In fact, some experts actually say that avocados are the perfect superfood, and if you were to eat only one food for the rest of your life, it should be avocado. It is an incredibly complete food. With Vitamin B6, it can fight stress and enhance healthy energy, and it actually has more potassium than a banana. It can reduce anxiety, bloating, and constipation, and you can also prevent headaches and joint pain. Just add an avocado to your salad or have some chips and guacamole.
Childhood obesity is on the rise, and as you may imagine, it tends to lead to adult obesity. This could lead to a higher and earlier risk of many disease such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and considering the obsession America has with weight and weight loss, are we really in a good place with this? At the very least, it’s clear that we need to teach children how to be healthy and maintain a healthy weight at an early age rather than having to learn it later on.
There are those of us who consider our body to be a temple. At one time, I was a vegan, and to be honest, I felt amazing. I wasn’t the type to consider my body a
temple, but I was eating clean to say the least. My rules were naturally rigid, and I actually ate food rather than taking a lot of supplements and eating soy cheese like I’ve seen other people do at times. I wasn’t as disciplined as I would like to be as it turned out, but it was a good run, and I lost a few pounds along the way. However, some people do go overboard, including with their children, and there are a few things even the strictest parents could learn.
Don’t prohibit any food
I have seen people who tell their kids they can’t have a certain food, not because they’re allergic, but because they don’t consider it healthy. Guess what happens, that kid wants that food. When they go to a friend’s house or have a babysitter who doesn’t know, guess what they’re going to demand and gorge on every time.
Even as an adult, if you let yourself have a treat now and then, it’s not a bad thing. You are less likely to go overboard because you are denying yourself all the time. I have never developed an eating disorder, but sometimes it’s just nice to have that brownie or that piece of cheesecake. Sometimes, a piece of fruit really just isn’t enough. If you can learn to eat with moderation rather than binging later on, you’ll be better off, and a child who learns this early on will find it a lot easier to never have to go on that big diet or go through that big lifestyle change.
Harvard Medical School’s
Healthy Eating Plate
When it comes to dieting rules, you probably don’t like ultra strict and inflexible dieting rules. Kids don’t either. My mom loved to put more color on our plates growing up, and that wasn’t a bad thing. By color, I mean fruits and vegetables, not colored mac and cheese. Eat a diet rich in lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and drink plenty of water. These are loose guidelines when it comes right down to it, and it is found not necessarily so much in the food pyramid, but rather Harvard Medical School’s,
healthy eating plate.
With kids, this can take some creativity. For example, they may say they don’t like fish, but they’ll eat fish sticks. It may not be the healthiest forms, but sometimes, it’s better to show them the variety, even if you have to have that little bit of creativity. Put a little sauce on their vegetables. Do things right.
Getting enough sleep
A parent with a BMI that is overweight or obese tends to pass those habits onto children in many ways. This could be as simple as not getting enough sleep. When it comes right down to it, sleep is even more important in younger children than it is for us, and again, if they can learn these types of habits early on, it is more likely that they will carry these into adulthood. The proper amount of sleep can help you to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. It even goes so far as to say that sleep can reduce or control stress, which by proxy can help you to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Luckily, this is one of the things that is easiest to teach. Get your kids to bed early. Don’t encourage them to stay up late all the time. It’s like keeping healthy foods readily available. It can be completely natural.
Keep healthy foods readily available
When it comes down to it, you can stock your fridge with foods that are healthy or foods that are not. If you stock your pantry with more candy, you are more likely to eat more candy. On the other hand, if you stock your pantry and fridge with more fruits and vegetables, both you and your children are more likely to eat those. Children are adaptable, and in most cases, they will learn to eat and even like what is available to them. Don’t restrict them and tell them you can’t eat this. Just give them what they can eat.
Get Your Kids Active
I know, it’s popular to give your kids a Playstation, Xbox, etc. Instead, try getting your kids active from an early age. Get them involved in a soccer program early on, even if they’re just running around chasing a ball (not actually playing soccer). Take them to the park. Get a dog and take the dog and your kids to the park at the same time. You may by default get more exercise yourself. Get a playset out in the backyard that they can climb on. It’s all about availability
When it comes right down to it, your kids are the ones who have to make the choices. They are the ones who have to think about it and decide what they want. It helps to have self-motivated children, and they are the ones who are going to make the decision. However, if you provide options and get them used to options that are healthier in the first place, it’s a lot easier to be self-motivated later on. It’s a lot easier not to be obsessed or tempted by what they shouldn’t be eating a lot of as adults. Likewise, it reduces childhood obesity, therefore reducing the risk of other earlier health problems in the future.
Once a month, I get the cramps, everything in my intestines turns around, and my whole body goes nuts. I get breakouts of acne (and they hurt), I don’t get as much exercise in, and I feel like eating junk food that I feel like I shouldn’t be eating. Sometimes I take a day off to lay in bed, and while it varies between women, the whole bleeding part is not great. I am pretty sure I’m not the only one who would like fewer periods, lighter periods, and delayed periods (as long as that doesn’t mean I’m pregnant). Even during pregnancy, some women have regular periods. So there’s no guaranteed win.
If you want to delay your periods though, there are ways that you can help Mother Nature to better accommodate you. You don’t have to go to extremes, and there’s no harm in trying. You never know. You may as well look at a few of the options:
Athletes often either have less frequent periods, skip them, or in some cases, menses may stop. If it completely stops, you may want to consider greater health consequences. For example, anorexics see menses cease, and that’s not a good thing. However, if you exercise pretty regularly, then you could keep it under better control, and you could also lose weight. As it turns out, weight loss can greatly affect your cycles and improve that part of your health overall.
You can use birth control pills, shots, implants, or various other methods. Regardless, when you use hormonal birth control, you can actually time it out. Some pills allow you to have a period once every few months. If you use regular shots or implants, it can make periods shorter, lighter, and more under your control. Of course, there are health caveats when it comes to hormonal birth control of any kind. So make sure to talk to your doctor.
Eat gram lentils
I know, you may not always think of it, especially with something as specific as lentils, but diet can have a significant effect on your period. Eating gram lentil soup every day for a week before your period can actually help you to delay your period. Simply fry gram lentils until soft, grind them, and use it as a soup base on a regular basis.
Skip the spicy food
Some women have used spicy food in the past for example to naturally induce labor in the last little bit. Some women believe that spicy food can also make your period come sooner than you would expect. If that is true, then not eating spicy food from your diet a few weeks before that could help to stave your period off. Of course, this has not been proven, but it’s something that you could try, and if you happen to have something like heartburn or some other digestive disorder, it could also have other benefits.
Drink more water
This is one of those things that women have talked about, but it has not been necessarily proven. Women sometimes state that drinking more water helped them to delay their period. It’s definitely healthier. However, what we do know is that if you drink more water, your period can be lighter (the blood will ultimately be thinner). If for nothing else, the truth is water is healthy.
Control your stress
Sometimes life doesn’t allow us to properly control our stress levels. If you experience higher stress levels though, you are more likely to have heavier periods, more frequent periods, and you may even have more cramps and other symptoms to go along with it. Chances are, if you are more stressed, your menstrual cycle has already been changed.
See your doctor
If you have health problems and you feel that your menstrual cycle is out of control, then you can see your doctor. Yes, they could prescribe birth control, but if something is really wrong, they may actually need to take other steps. All in all, it is essential to make sure that your doctor is involved if you are going to take any birth control or if you have irregularities you cannot get under control.
We all know the common cold and flu are contagious. Coughs can also be contagious. At my birthday dinner, my hacking brother repeatedly told me he wasn’t
contagious. The next day I got to inform him that he was in fact contagious, and his bubble boy baby will probably get sick accordingly. That said, there are other things that are more contagious than you might think. We have plenty of misconceptions about how you pass the cold, flu, and AIDS, but there are sneaky little things that we don’t know that we should look out for.
- Stress – Stress can be a hard thing to deal with. If you’re dealing with someone who is stressed out, you may find out that they can be a pain or stressful to you. However, studies have shown that just being around someone who is anxious can actually increase your cortisol levels (a stress hormone). Research from the Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience shows that people were more alert when exposed to the sweat odor of a stressed out person, a smell which is actually undetectable. The smell that we do not notice right off the bat actually alerts that there is a problem, a potential danger, and we react according to Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in Stony Brook, New York.
- Goals – There are times when my nephews share or take things right off the bat. Then again, there are times when one doesn’t want something until the other has it, and yes, we do that as adults as well. In 2012, a study was conducted in which participants were asked to rate an object’s desirability when they thought someone else wanted it. This idea of wanting what others have is translated by researchers as goals that are in fact contagious.
- Loneliness – Don’t you get lonely when you’re alone? So how could you catch loneliness from people who are not there? There are of course people who are lonely in the middle of a crowd. However, according to John T Cacioppo PhD, professor and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago Illinois says,
Loneliness makes people more negative, irritable and defensive, which can protect you if you’re in an unsafe setting. People who are lonely are more likely to be irritable and hostile towards other people, leading those people to feel the same way and treat others around them in the same way. This ultimately drives people away, which means that people are contagiously alienated and become lonely.
- Fear – Music can greatly enhance or affect the way you experience a movie. Likewise, the general mood of those around you can create a greater fear in you than if you were watching that same horror movie by yourself. Again, people can subconsciously smell the fear in the sweat of a frightened individual, see frightened facial expressions, and otherwise see signs that there is something to be afraid of. In the past, this alerted others to something that may be dangerous, cuing a survival instinct. Now, it just means that fear can spread.
- Disgust – It sounds weird, but disgust can be spread by pheromones, which are chemical signals released by people that can communicate attraction or disgust. Participants in a study were more likely to show repulsion and sniff less frequently when they smelled the sweat of people who were disgusted.
- Happiness – You don’t have to have direct contact with a person or their pheromones to spread joy or other feelings. In a study published in 2013 by the Public Library of Science PLos ONE showed that people could actually transmit happiness, even unintentionally. This could reduce conflict in the home or workplace, and of course, it can have other positive effects you may not necessarily see coming.
- Pessimism – We’ve already gone over mood and emotional response, but that’s not all. One’s general mindset can actually spread, which is definitely applicable with pessimism. Research has found that new college roommates can change their roommates’s thinking style. Those who had a more optimistic roommate were more likely to adopt a positive thinking style while those with negative roommates were more likely to adopt a negative perception of themselves and negative thinking style. Scientists connect this to modeling, and there may of course be other factors involved.
Out of Breath – If you watch someone who is holding their breath, their face may go red, they will have inflated cheeks, and you could actually start to breath quicker and harder. Researchers believe that this is linked to our natural empathy.
- Itchiness – I know that you can definitely get itchy when there is nothing that should be causing itchiness. After seeing a spider or some other bug that makes me nervous, I feel itchy. However, according to a 2012 study, when you see someone scratching themselves, you are more likely to feel itchy and scratch in response as well.
Does anybody really like working out? Okay, it’s actually a lot easier once you get going, but getting over that initial hump….hell. Even when you’re just starting a new workout routine, depending on what it is, can really be hell. I have loved running in the past, but getting started is discouraging, in part because I used to be able to run so much further! Regardless of where you are in your workouts though, getting motivated to workout is sometimes the hardest part of the whole process. If you can get over it though, let’s get started today.
- Look at your goals – Look at your goals and see where you are. Why do you really want to exercise? I don’t think you want to exercise just for the sake of exercising. You want to relieve stress, lose weight, get in shape, be more flexible. If you know what your goals are, then you can better determine what you should do. You can better determine what kind of exercise will actually get you to your goals so that you don’t waste any time. Are you ready to really get the most out of your workouts? The first step, before even starting any routine, is to determine your goals so that you can determine your workout properly.
- Look at yourself in the mirror – I know, it can be quite a terrifying prospect. Why in the world would you want to look at yourself in the mirror! That’s why. Chances are you are not where you want to be. I don’t encourage self deprecation, but really, what is it that you’re not satisfied with? Do you want less fat? Do you want to be more toned or muscular? Looking in the mirror can help you break down what’s wrong to determine what you need to make right. As you go along, it can also be encouraging if you take pictures to track your progress, or take measurements.
- Stay positive – Getting down, even if it’s being down about the things that you want to change, can really be deflating. The fact is that there is always going to be some area that you can improve in. But why bring yourself down? Why not be excited about the changes that you can make? Being more positive gives you a more hopeful outlook that your goals are actually possible.
- Keep yourself accountable – You can make a deal with a friend, or there are actually websites that are designed to help you to keep your goals. How? They tie up funds for you. If you succeed, you get rewarded by using those funds to get something you want. If you fail, those funds go to a charity you hate or something else you wouldn’t want it to. You want to be more public about it so you have someone who expects you to stick to your goals and succeed. If you start to fall off, that person or system should be there to remind you. This could be as simple as a trainer that you are paying a lot of money for.
- Get workout clothes – You could workout in your pajamas, but is that really motivating? It’s like working. If you actually get dressed, you get into a better mindset. You get into the idea that yes, I am dressed to workout. Yes, I need to go.
- Get in the zone – Everybody is different. If something really gets you in the zone, it may not get your best friend in the zone. Figure out what works for you, what really gets you motivated and going. If you can find this, then you can get the most out of your workouts. Getting in the zone will also help you to get going in the first place.
- Challenge yourself – Make smaller goals and meet them. Then make a new goal. Always have something that you’re working toward. Make it something that you can meet, and use your inner strength to push you. When you make a goal, make sure that it is something that isn’t too easy, but it is something you can actually accomplish. This may be something that can really make the difference and get you moving.
I eat vegan pretty regularly, and I also workout pretty regularly. I like to run, and I have done Insanity a couple times. I know there are plenty of rumors going around about how vegans can’t possibly get enough protein and you need to have meat to workout on a regular basis. Of course, there are those people who would struggle, but at the same point, there are also plenty of vegan proteins, and I personally have never had an issue with it. I guess it depends on the person. I am not an Olympic athlete by any means, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have my tools.
Eat Tofu & Nuts
These are healthy and vegan sources of protein. With tofu, you can use a lot of different seasonings. Protein is necessary to take care of your muscles and maintain a balanced diet, and if you know where to look, you can get plenty. These are just a couple of the options, and of course, there are plenty of supplements as well.
Make Sure You Eat Enough
Yes, you end up eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, if you experiment around, you can make sure that you eat enough. It can be hard to know how much is enough, but you adjust over time. You can eat a variety of foods such as nuts, seeds, grains, whole grains, proteins, etc. If you eat a variety and make sure that you eat enough, you can be a more effective athlete.
Part of the problem that people really run into when going vegan as an athlete (or in general) is that they don’t know. They don’t know what foods they should eat, and they just assume it will be natural and easy. For some of us, it is. For others though, we run into other problems of just not knowing enough to know how to get all of the essential nutrients we need. There are plenty of resources online and in books though that you should look into if you’re considering going vegan. You can find recipes and tips all over the place, and if you go slow, you can educate yourself properly along the way.
Cut Out Junk Food
Part of the idea of going vegan is to cut out things like Oreos, pop tarts, and other junk food. What you may not realize is that some people start eating nothing but soy cheese and chips for example, and they just take vitamin supplements and gain weight. In general, they become unhealthy. Don’t be one of those people. Instead, try actually eating more fruits, vegetables, throw in a little tofu and quinoa, etc. If you do it right, your body will thank you.
Don’t Sacrifice Carbs
I know it’s the hot thing to do. Go on a low carb diet. If you’re vegan, your dietary options would be basically taken down to nothing. So this is not a good idea. You need a full range of nutrients, and even proteins you may start to eat tend to have more carbs than say chicken. If you try to go low carb, it could easily throw your body into a bad state, and this could really throw a wrench into your workouts and muscles as well. Vegans can be so much healthier. You don’t need to go low carb, nor should you.
Think Smart About Fats
When it comes to fats, if you eat the way you should, you may reduce fat anyway, but don’t forget fat. Remember that you should also be getting healthy fats. This means eating foods like avocados that have healthy fats along with other fruits, vegetables, grains, etc that have healthy fats.
Take a Vitamin B12 Supplement
There is one vitamin that it is harder to get when you’re vegan, which is B12. B12 is essential for a healthy brain, digestive system, energy, and overall health. As you may have noticed, you need energy to workout. Spirulina, for example, can be an effective supplement that is vegan and provides you with plenty of B12.
On one of my favorite fitness podcasts, the host has been talking about all of the benefits of cold showers lately. Why? I’m not sure, but it caught my attention. It made me think, and I’ve been trying to turn the temperature down a little. Granted, I have heard about people using cold temperatures in general to burn more calories and lose weight through the shiver effect. But it’s a hard thing to get used to. Still, considering all of the benefits I’ve heard of, it seems to be worth a try. Personally, I never found the idea of a cold shower in the winter appealing, but what do you do. These are just a few of the benefits that have come up.
- Metabolism, Metabolism, Metabolism – The shiver effect we’ve all heard of does take effect. When you’re cold, blood gets flowing, and you shiver in order to get warmer. You end up burning more calories, and your metabolism gets a little boost. Your body produces more brown fats. which burn more fat. Who would’ve known?
- Increased Hormone Production – If you want to have a kid, it doesn’t hurt to take a cold shower. You may need hormone therapy, and you may need to take more extreme measures of course. The truth is that a cold shower can provide you with a small boost in testosterone levels for increased fertility. On the other hand, a hot bath can actually decrease sperm count. There is only so much that it can do of course, but with fertility, if you’re having trouble, every little bit counts.
- Relieving Depression – Cold showers can actually lift your mood and relieve mild depression. When you’re sitting under cold water, it sends impulses from your brain’s nerve endings, and it can be somewhat similar to antidepressants. It can calm your nerves, leading to very positive effects.
- Healthy Skin & Hair – If you want healthy hair, there are plenty of people who talk about not using blow dryers, straight irons, curling irons, etc. I had a friend whose mom was an absolute Nazi about it. She uses them now, in part I think because her mom wouldn’t let her for all of those years. Hot showers can have somewhat of the same effect. The only difference is nobody really knows it. Yes, hot protein treatments can be healthy, but when you have a cold shower, it is healthier for your hair, and it doesn’t dry out your skin like a hot shower can. You can of course take a mostly hot shower. Just try warm more than hot, and try closing it out with a bit of cold. According to many who have tried it, you can really see the difference.
- Increasing your energy levels – If you haven’t noticed, a little cold can really snap you awake. The energy could last a little longer than that though. When it comes right down to it, it can help to reduce the amount of caffeine for some people while stimulating energy, increasing your heart rate, and leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to go.
- Sleep Better – When I exercise regularly, I actually sleep better. The same goes for cold showers for some people. Cold showers provide energy in the morning, and they can be calming for your body as well. Yes, it’s shocking to your body at first, but then your body can calm down and help you to sleep better.
- Better Stress Tolerance – You wouldn’t think it, but taking a cold shower now and again can actually help you to better tolerate stress. You could build up your immune function, which would also equal out to not getting sick as often. Finally, it can actually reduce inflammation and chronic pain.
Personally, I don’t really think of cold showers as being particularly pleasant, but you get used to it. Of course, it’s always going to be a little shocking to the body when you step in, but you will acclimate and it can be extremely healthy in various ways. At the very least, for many of us, it’s worth a try.