4 Things to do When You Feel a Cold Coming On

I don’t get sick very often, but boy when I do, I really get knocked out. This happened last week, much to my dismay. I had a little cough for a few days and I knew something was brewing, so I was taking lots of vitamins D, B (all kinds) and C, but it still hit me like a ton of bricks. Fortunately, it didn’t last long. I think it might be because I took the right precautions before it really took hold. Either way, it was a good reminder that I should start taking better care of myself. Here are a few things I like to do when I feel a cold coming on:

Drink lots of waterHydration is always important, but when you’re getting sick, your body needs a little extra. Eight 8-ounce glasses of water is a bare minimum when you’re well. Try to drink at least two more glasses when you’re sick.

Take your vitamins – When I’m getting a lot of vitamins from my food, I usually tend to skip a multi, but when a cold is brewing, I add it back to the daily routine. It certainly can’t hurt to get some more nutrients. I also wash an extra (2k IU) vitamin D pill down with a glass of emergen-C (which has loads of B12 and vitamin C).

Get your 7 to 8 hours of sleep – When I’m really busy, sometimes I forgo a few hours of sleep, but never when I’m sick. Your body recuperates while you’re sleeping, so don’t skimp out. Just lay back and let your body to its job.

Go for a little walk – It’s really important to get fresh air and sunshine when your body is fighting a cold, so a walk is the perfect thing. It’ll also get your blood flowing which will help deliver oxygen and nutrients to your vital organs.

3 Simple Exercises to Improve Focus

Although I tend to focus much of my energy on exercise and nutrition, I know that those aren’t the only two things I can do to make sure I’m well. Last post, I talked about meditation, which is a great way to keep your mind and body in sync and ready to handle anything. When you’re feeling disconnected, but don’t have time to meditate, there are a few exercises you can try to bring your focus back.

Why is focus important? Focus and concentration are essential to succeeding in just about everything life throws your way. Everyone has tasks that require more concentration than others, and when these arise, it’s crucial to be able to think sharply.

Here are a few exercises you can do to help increase and improve your powers of concentration:

Thought exercise: Choose one thought and focus on it. Hold the thought in your mind for as long as you can without getting distracted or allowing your mind to wander. At first, you may not be able to do this for very long, but practice every day and soon you should be able to stay focused for some time.

Focus within: Sit or lie down and focus all of your energy inward. Think about your heart and the amazing capacity it has to pump blood to all the corners of your body. Focus on one beat at a time and allow yourself to visualize the blood pumping in and out, all the way out to your fingers and toes and back again.

Journal: Each morning, write down your dreams, and each evening, write down the events of your day in reverse. Doing this will help your concentration and your memory. Writing your dreams and daily events each day will help with your memory and understanding as you connect your daily life to your dreams.

If you practice every day, these three exercises can help you improve your focus, concentration and memory, which in turn will help you lead a more fulfilled life. Who doesn’t want that?

Coping with Stress

We know that it’s important to exercise and eat nutritious foods in order to stay fit, but did you also know that you should avoid stress in order to be healthy? Studies have shown that people who don’t deal well with stress are more susceptible to illness. I don’t want that to be me, and I’ll bet you don’t either. Let’s look at the ways we can keep stress at bay and stay fit and healthy.

Everyone has stress in their daily lives. The reality is that we live in a fast-paced world, and stress is inevitable. Whenever you feel stressed, your body is to reacting to danger. In the past (prehistoric days), this reaction helped keep us alive. But today, that’s not the case. We might feel stress when we get a bad grade in school, can’t find scholarships to help pay for our education, or miss a deadline at work.

Although stress is everywhere, it’s really important to find ways to deal with it. High stress levels are associated with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, digestive ailments and even obesity. So, having a battle plan for dealing with and relieving stress can help you live a longer, happier and healthier life.

One good way to deal with stress is to exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly have lower levels of stress hormones and are just all around happier. Not only will you like the way you look, but you’ll also be relieving stress hormones that can build up and lead to chronic disease. Pound out your stress by hitting the pavement for a run or lifting weights. Yoga is also great for beating stress because it combines the benefits of physical exercise with the practices of meditation, relaxation and proper breathing.

Even if you exercise, stress still can get to you. When you feel your body’s stress reaction coming on, here’s what to do: Breathe deeply and slowly. Take a few breaths in and out to help ward off that “fight or flight” reaction and calm yourself down.

Later on, after you’ve removed yourself from the stressor, you might still feel a little affected. If so, find a quiet place to sit and clear your mind. Stressing over problems, small or large, is not the way to solve them. It’s a way to find yourself sick and less capable of handling things – so, be sure to deal with stress the right way and you’ll keep yourself in tip-top shape, ready to handle anything!

How Exercise Makes You Energized, Focused and Optimistic

I often write about motivation, not because I think you need the push, but because I know I do. The one thing I’ve noticed about myself (and exercise) throughout the years is that I go through ebbs and flows. Once I actually get into a routine, I’m good. But as soon as I fall off that wagon, I’m in trouble. It’s so much easier to do nothing; isn’t it? So, when I’m lacking in motivation, I like to remind myself how great I feel when I’m exercising regularly. I’m energized, focused and optimistic. When I don’t exercise regularly, I’m the exact opposite of those three things.

Exercise helps you focus by increasing the blood flow within the body, which helps deliver more oxygen to the muscles, tissues and organs – including the brain. Not only does the blood deliver oxygen, but it also delivers vital nutrients that it needs in order to function.

If you look at the most successful people in life, you’ll start to notice a pattern. It doesn’t matter what field they’ve chosen to study. For the most part, they all understand the value of a good workout. Maybe they do it for vain reasons, or maybe for their health, but I do think that the increased flow of oxygen to their brains probably has contributed in some way to their success. How could it not? They’re more focused, energized and optimistic than the rest of us.

When I look at people like this, I think “Why can’t that be me?” But, then I remember: it can. I just need to stay motivated and exercise more often. The energy, focus and optimism that follows will help me start taking the steps I know I need to take in order to be more successful in life. It isn’t all attributed to exercise, of course. But when you exercise, you’re giving yourself a good springboard to use to hoist your ideas into action.

Secret Exposed: Exercise Doesn’t Have to be Torture

In the past, I’ve posted about how to find motivation to exercise. It’s an important topic, especially for those of us who tend to fall into ruts of laziness (my hand is raised right now). But with that in mind, I wanted to point something out that most people don’t think about: Exercise isn’t just what you do at the gym; it’s everything you do to move your body and work your muscles. If you’re not a gym-rat (and I’m definitely not), or even if you are, it can be fun to find creative ways to get exercise without feeling like you’re “working out.”

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Dance! If you like to dance, make this your exercise. You don’t need a routine; you just need to move your body. Whether you’re a good dancer or you have two left feet, you’re getting exercise while your body is moving. You can turn on the music and dance the night away at home, or you can plan a night out with your friends. Just don’t include alcohol in your workout, or you’re kind of defeating the purpose.
  2. Act like a kid again. Whenever I think of this advice, I think of Phoebe from Friends running in Central Park. You’ve heard the expression “Dance like no one’s watching.” In this episode, she runs like no one’s watching. It’s pretty hysterical, but the point is, she’s having fun. You don’t have run like Phoebe, but you can play games that make you feel like a kid again, like H.O.R.S.E and kickball.
  3. Join a team. Just because you’re not in school anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t play on an organized team. Check with your town’s recreation center to see if there are any softball, volleyball or basketball teams you can join.

One of the reasons we stay fit when we’re young is because we do things we enjoy. For some reason, most of us stop that once we reach adulthood. I’m not really sure why. Maybe we’re made to feel guilty for spending time on fun stuff, so exercise must become torture. It’s kind of silly when you think about it.

Another reason we become a little more sloppy when we get older is that our metabolism naturally slows. But the truth is, it doesn’t slow down that much. We’re the ones who really stop ourselves from being fit. Just get out there and have some fun already – your body will thank you for it!

5 Reasons to Make Time for Exercise

I’m very interested in health, especially as it relates to nutrition, but I often find myself struggling to fit exercise into my life. I find it much easier to choose a salad over a piece of chocolate than to get up off my butt and work out. I constantly need to convince myself that exercise is really worth it. Sounds crazy, right? Well, today I’m creating a list that will help me get over my next fitness slump and remember why I should be exercising every day.

  1. Research shows that our bodies are designed to exercise. It’s what our ancestors have done up until about 50-100 years ago when we stopped exercising and started getting chronic disease at alarming rates.
  2. Exercise strengthens your bones. Well, not all exercise, but most. Any “load bearing” exercise, such as walking, running, pilates, etc., actually puts pressure on your bones and causes them to build up and become more dense.
  3. Exercise can actually make you smarter. Here’s how it works: When your muscles contract, your body releases a protein called IGF-1, which travels to your brain and causes other chemicals to be released, including Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF). BDNF stimulates your brain cells to branch out and make new connections (which is the basis of learning).
  4. Exercise makes you feel good. When you exercise, your brain and spinal cord release endorphins, which make you feel great. They diminish feelings of pain, relieve stress, and help improve sleep.
  5. Exercise makes you look good. This one is no secret. When you work out, your muscles get toned and your body takes on a more attractive shape. You’re also healthier overall, which results in increased outward beauty. You can exercise to gain muscle mass or to increase flexibility – the choice is yours. Either way, you’ll shape your body and start looking better.

The only reason I can think of not to exercise is laziness. But, that’s more of a problem than a valid reason. I know people also say they’re too busy, but about 99.9% of the time, that’s also just an excuse. We make time for the things that are important. I have a friend who uses this excuse all the time. He’s a software developer and works about 50 hours a week. Then, he volunteers another 5 hours. He’s a busy guy, but somehow he finds a whole lot of time to play video games. It’s important to take time for things we enjoy, but I think we all (myself included) should remind ourselves that exercise is as important to our wellbeing as eating or brushing our teeth. It’s time for us to put down the video game (or whatever your vice is) for a little while and make time for some exercise.

Motivation: A Few Tips for Getting Off Your Butt

Even the best of us fall out of our groove from time to time. I’m in that mode right now. I’ve been really busy with work these days, and that means I’m sitting on my butt all day. When I’m done with work, I have a ton of things to do around the house and errands to run. But wait, are those just excuses? Oh yeah, they sure are. Somehow I find time to watch television and research my next tattoo design (by the way, feel free to share any ideas). But, how could I possibly find time to exercise with such a busy schedule? It’s true that my routine has changed in the past few months, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t make fitness a priority. I know this to be true, but yet I still have trouble getting out of the slump I put myself into.

Even though I know I’ve allowed myself to be lazy, I also know it’s not time to beat myself up over it. That never gets anyone anywhere. It’s simply time to find a little motivation.

Here are some of my thoughts on how to motivate yourself when you’re haven’t been bit with the fitness bug.

  • Set a very specific goal. All you need is one. It could be to lose 15 pounds in three months, or it could be to fit into your skinny jeans by the end of the month. Just make sure it’s something you can evaluate and check off your list when you’ve completed it. So, for example, “I want to lose some weight” isn’t a good goal.
  • Mark it on your calendar. Once you have it in writing, you’re more likely to feel the pressure to get it done.
  • Tell someone else about your goal. By telling another human being about your goal, you are setting expectations. Now, if you fail, you’re disappointing yourself as well as that person. Wouldn’t you rather have them be proud of your accomplishment than disappointed in your lack of commitment?
  • Remind yourself of your goal every night before you go to bed. Say it out loud. “I’m going to lose 15 pounds in three months” or “I’m going to do pilates every day until I leave for Florida.”

Did that last one sound oddly specific? That’s because it’s actually my goal. And, yes, I’m going to report back to you from Florida to tell you whether I failed or succeeded. The pressure is on!