How To Become A Morning Person

Morning

Are you the type of person who enjoys waking up early? Do you feel energized and productive in the morning?Or are you a snooze-5-times and don’t-talk-to-me-for-30-minutes type?

If you struggle in the mornings, there are some proven ways on how to become a (happy) morning person.

1. Get Fresh Air:
The famed “breath of fresh air” actually has some science behind it. This study shows that breathing¬†outside air truly does lower cortisol, leaving you feeling more relaxed and calm. While you might argue that one could get fresh air later in the morning, we think that¬†it’s simply the association we make¬†between mornings and feeling calm that makes, this tip a keeper.

2.  Take Your Time:
What’s your favorite thing about sleeping in? It’s that lazy, leisurely¬†feeling, right? Instead of associating early mornings with rushing, leave yourself enough time to move slow. If you can, find a moment to be alone. Sit with your coffee, watch the sunrise, make a healthy breakfast, lay in bed for 10 minutes before getting up, say a prayer, take a warm shower. Even if it means setting your alarm for just a few minutes earlier, those few moments can make¬†early mornings your favorite time of day.

3. Get Some Sun: 
There is something about seeing the sunrise in the morning that makes us feel awake and accomplished. ¬†A¬†study notes that exposure to orange light (like the sun’s) can increase brain activity and boost alertness. When you first wake up, immediately open the blinds or curtains to let any natural light in. Summer is the perfect time to start establishing these early morning habits since it’s bright¬†early. During winter months, try to get outside or to a room where there’s sunlight as¬†the sun rises.

4. Have a detailed plan:
The best thing you can do to inspire you to get up is to know exactly what¬†you’re about to do. As that alarm goes off and your thoughts start to rush in, you’ll be much more likely to hop out of bed if¬†you have something to look forward to. The more specific the better. For example, your plan could look like this:¬†sit up in bed and take 10 breaths, put water on for coffee, open the blinds and splash water on your face before and enjoy coffee for 5 minutes.

5. Workout:
For most non-morning people, it’s hard enough to get up for work, let alone a workout before work. However, if you struggle with mornings, changing your workout routine, might be what helps.¬†¬†Research shows that those who workout in the morning (vs. evening) are more likely to sleep better and reduce their stress. Once we start to consistently feel better (from all that good sleep and reduced stress!) waking up early and exercising¬†will be a habit worth keeping.

Ready for ¬†a way to do all 5 habits in one easy step? Register for our summer session! You’ll get fresh air, see the sunrise, workout, and have a morning routine¬†you love.

Check out our schedule here.

 

5 Hacks For A Healthy Week

Sunrise

When it comes to feeling¬†(and seeing) the results from our health efforts, it can be hard to wait. You’re not alone if you want a little immediate gratification. Try one, or all¬†5, of these healthy hacks to help¬†feel your best THIS week.

1. Plan and make your breakfasts for the entire week. Check out these 12 ideas.

2. Stretch or foam roll while watching T.V. ¬†The best way to start a new habit is to associate it with a habit you already have. Since many¬†of us enjoy our favorite T.V. shows at night, use that time to stretch or foam roll (even if it’s just during commercials).

3. Put a full glass of water next to your bed at night.¬†And drink it before getting up in the morning. With up to 75% percent of us dehydrated (1) and since we’re most dehydrated after a night’s sleep (2), drinking a glass of water first thing in the A.M.¬†is a great way to start the day.

4. Set a “move” reminder on your phone or calendar.¬†Sitting for long periods of time can¬†physiologically affect¬†your muscles and metabolism (3). And not for the better. Gretchen Reynolds, NYtimes Well columnist and The First 20 Minutes author, suggests standing¬†up every¬†20 minutes for 2 minutes. Try setting¬†an alarm on your phone to go off every 20 minutes during long work stints. Check out her interview for more¬†on how sitting affects your body.

5. Try a new healthy recipe.¬†Take some time to scroll through the recipes we have shared on the BCSF blog, dust off your¬†favorite cookbook or find a new food website you like. Pick ONE new recipe to try. Just like one¬†unhealthy meal can make us feel like we’ve fallen off track, one healthy meal can¬†make us feel inspired to eat well all week.

And of course head out and join your BCSF class for a workout! Nothing like a good sweat and workout with your friends to make you feel accomplished for the day.

 

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.medicaldaily.com/75-americans-may-suffer-chronic-dehydration-according-doctors-247393
  2. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27704531/ns/health-behavior/t/wake-up-call-sleep-deprived/
  3. http://www.npr.org/2012/05/09/152336802/stand-up-walk-around-even-just-for-20-minutes

4 Tips To Improve Digestion And Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner

It’s 6pm after Thanksgiving dinner…how do you feel?

Stuffed? Bloated? Uncomfortable? Sick?

It’s all too common to eat too much, too quickly on this much anticipated meal. The result is that infamous Thanksgiving “food coma”¬†that we all blame on the rich food.

But is it really the food itself, or is it how we eat it?

So much of how we feel after a meal has to do with what happens after we eat.

With these tips, ¬†you’ll be able to walk away from Thanksgiving dinner feeling comfortable and satisfied.

Here are Molly’s 4 top tips to improve your digestion to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.


Tip #1: Chew Your Food. We know this sounds silly as you’re probably thinking “well, of course I chew my food”. But we mean REALLY chew your food. Ideally, your food should be almost liquid before swallowing.

Why it works: The first step of digestion is in your mouth. Not only do you physically break down your food by chewing, but the digestive enzymes in your saliva begin to chemically break down carbohydrates and proteins. The more you chew, the more you mix these enzymes with your food and kick start the digestive process.


Tip #2: Put your fork down between bites. Similar to tip #1, the idea is to slow down. While we all know that slowing down to eat is a good habit, it can be hard to put into practice (especially when we’re hungry or it’s a special meal like Thanksgiving)¬†Getting into the habit of putting down your fork in between bites and allowing yourself to chew and swallow before picking up the fork again will help you eat slower and more mindfully.

Why it works:¬†According the psychology of eating, slower eating means a faster metabolism. When we eat too fast, the body isn’t able to fire up digestion, absorb nutrients or¬†correctly moderate¬†hunger hormones to signal fullness.


Tip #3: Start with something sour or bitter. If there is any food that is naturally sour or bitter (think citrus vinaigrette, bitter greens like arugula or vegetable stalks) eat those first. Alternatively, you can create the same effect by taking 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar before eating.

Why it works: The human digestive system is triggered by sour and bitter flavors. This is because we evolved eating the bitter flavors found in nature, such as greens, barks and herbs. However, the standard palette of sweet and salty can leave the digestive system behind. Jump starting your digestive enzymes (from the stomach, pancreas and gallbladder) to help increase the effectiveness and comfort of your digestion.


Tip #4: Move a little.¬†While you don’t want to go for a run or even a walk right after eating, a leisurely walk 30-60 minutes after a big meal has been shown to improve digestion.

Why it Works:¬†When we eat, our blood sugar increases. This spike in blood sugar is¬†taxing on the body’s systems. In other words, the body doesn’t like high blood sugar and has to work hard to bring it¬†back down. One way to help use the excess blood sugars is by moving. This will allow the body to spend it’s energy on other tasks, like digesting your food.


Pick one or more of these tips to practice at your Thanksgiving table¬†and see how much it improves your digestion¬†during and after your meal. ¬†Which one will you be trying?¬†We’d love to hear! Share by making a comment in the section below.

3 Things Your Fitness Tracker Is Missing

Do you track your food intake with an app like myfitnesspal or loseit?
Do you have a wearable tracker like a fitbit or jawbone that tracks your fitness for you?

If you said no to all of the above and you’ve never tried tracking your activity and food, we suggest giving it a whirl.

Why? Because, it can be one of the best ways to educate yourself on what you’re putting into your¬†body.

However, it’s important to remember to take these tools are just that. Tools to help us get more in tune with our bodies so we can make healthier decisions.

But you’re not alone if you’ve been using an app like myfitnesspal for weight loss and are left scratching your head as to why the numbers and what you see in the mirror don’t match up.

These trackers are missing a couple factors that can leave a huge gap between what they calculate and what’s actually happening.

So before you start taking those “you’ll weigh x amount in x days” alerts too seriously, take a minute to consider these weight loss factors:

1. Quality and timing of food: According to food trackers, you could get 100% of your calories from fast food restaurants and as long as you used more calories than you consumed, you’d be on track for weight loss. This is a major fault in the belief that counting calories is the only way to lose weight. From a nutritional perspective, this type of thinking can lead to eating too many low calorie, low nutrient foods (popcorn, rice cakes, crackers, diet sodas ect.) As a nutrition counselor, I know that eating more nutrient dense foods (yes, even if they are higher calorie) can be the better choice for supporting metabolism and long term weight loss. Also, timing of food intake isn’t taken into account. Are you eating 3 square meals a day or are you starving yourself during the day and eating 80% of your food right before bed? You can see how these reports could quickly get very misleading. Remember to pay attention to what you eat and when and to listen to your body before you consider to your “stats”.

2. Intensity of exercise: Intensity of exercise matters. Sprinting up a set of stairs is going to have a very different effect on your metabolism than going for a walk or lifting weights. Most trackers only take into account total calorie burn, not the metabolic effect. Remember that most of these programs are estimates and take them as such.

3. Overall health and happiness: There are so many other factors that can affect health. Sleep, stress levels, hormones and nutrient deficiencies can all have an effect on weight loss. Remember that these programs and platforms aren’t made for you, they’re made for the masses. If you need or want specialized recommendations,¬†it’s important to speak with a trainer, nutritionist or doctor.

So should we use these trackers?
Are you using this technology to help educate yourself and make better choices? If yes, then keep it up! Like I said, these tools can be a great way to learn about our bodies and our habits.¬†With that said, if it’s making you feel stressed or overwhelmed, then it’s not the tool for you right now. Try journaling about your food choices, creating a simple weekly meal plan or find another way to get in tune with your food and fitness.

At the end of the day, put down the phone, the app, the stats and remember only you can make the best decisions for your health.

Finding Fitting Music to Get Fit With

Are you good at making mix tapes? If so let’s chat because I’m so tragically not. I never fully understood or put into practice all of the so-called fundamentals necessary for arranging (with High Fidelity level fanaticism) music into painstaking order with proper beats per minute perfectly balanced with obscure tracks and tongue in cheek references. Also, I’m dating myself by even referencing the word “tapes.” You can’t even call them mix CDs anymore. Honestly, when was the last time you bought an actual honest-to-goodness CD that wasn’t impulse shopped from the counter at Starbucks while you clutched a latte and stared at a Top Pot Doughnut with longing?

So, yes, when it comes to mix tapes, CDs or playlists I am utterly hopeless but wow do I love it when someone else makes a mix for me. To that end I love Spotify. Are you familiar with this service? There is a free version but for $10 a month you can get unlimited access to millions of songs without annoying ads. If you already have an extensive collection of music housed in iTunes you can still sync it with Spotify for everyday streamlined use. Best of all they have an excellent mobile app that allows you to access the service (and all of that music) with wireless or you can specify specific playlists to be downloaded for use in an offline mode. Plus you can easily create playlists that you can share with friends or keep private. It’s totally up to you.

You might be wondering why I’m bringing this up. Frankly it all ties back to running and my continued inability to improve at it. I call shenanigans on my inner monologue and I suspect I can run much further and longer than my very critical thoughts seem to insist. So in an effort to block out those very loud, “let’s stop moving now” impulses I started listening to my iPod again when working out outside on the weekends.

In the meantime, something desperately needs to be done with the music currently housed on my device. Yesterday, and I’m not making this up, the Bangles came on, followed by a Whitney Houston song (too soon!), and then Sunday Morning by No Doubt. Not to even mention that I hit skip about a dozen times when something even more annoying started to play. Then I’d get distracted and usually end up stopping.

So I’m hoping to use Spotify to find some good workout mixes that I can save for later use and that don’t make me roll my eyes whenever the next track starts. ¬†So far I’ve identified these as being good possibilities to try out.

Work It Out! by Sony UK

2012 Running Music by Runner’s World

The Utlimate Running Playlist

Zone Out Music for a Morning Run

What are your favorite songs to work out to? Maybe together we can create a collaborate playlist for BootCampSF on Spotify? If you already have spotify you can access the playlist at this link¬†or check it out below. I’ve added a few tracks to get us started and can’t wait to see what you like¬†exercising¬†to as well!

A Note on iPod Use From BootCampSF: For most BCSF sessions, we prefer that you not use your headphones during class so that your instructors can keep you safe and ensure you hear all the directions. But if your class is doing a run day, just check in with your instructor to let them know that you’d like to jam out during your workout!

But Boot Camp Sounds So Scary…

I moved to San Francisco from Boston in May. At that point I was coming off a seemingly endless winter of snow, sleet, and stuck indoors-ness. It would appear that most of those long cold months I lounged on my favorite chair watching television and football games while drinking wine and eating very very bad things. So I arrived on the West Coast in the absolute worst shape of my life. Go me!

My new apartment came equipped with two lovely gyms full of fancy exercise things so I figured I’d hop on the elliptical every day for an hour and all of that booze, cheese, and pastry I’d packed onto my thighs would disappear in a few weeks and the eight pair of jeans (I diligently packed even though I couldn’t fit into them) would then welcome me back with open arms.

Not so much. Working out made me feel better but obviously participating in the same thing every single day simply wasn’t doing the trick. The jeans still languished in the closet untouched and I still really enjoyed Wheat Thins. Then, one evening my boyfriend came home from work and excitedly told me all about the boot camp classes in our neighborhood that he’d read about online.

But the more he told me the more anxious I became. He seriously wanted me to sign up for a six-week session with him. Instead of agreeing, I laughed in his face. Boot camp? Me? Be serious! I’d never even played a sport before. The extent of my workout “regime” involved walking, the elliptical, and yoga. I certainly couldn’t run a mile. I hated being dirty and I really wasn’t a big fan of the outdoors in general, plus, I couldn’t stop picturing scenes from Full Metal Jacket in my head. What if someone yelled at me like that in front of other people?! I’d dissolve into tears. No way was I subjecting myself to anything that could possibly be that unfamiliar and unsettling.

So I told my boyfriend in no uncertain terms that I would rather be eaten alive by a raptor than exorcise outside in front of other people.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and the more freaked out I got over the possibility of actually having to step out of my safe (and let’s face it very ineffectual) gym-based comfort zone, the more I realized that the irrational fear I was feeling meant that I absolutely had to sign-up. It sounds silly to me now, but honestly that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Unfortunately, it’s not like I hit the submit button, Bootcamp SF charged my credit card and then I went to my zen place. Some part of me was nervous about the first boot camp session every single day until I attended my first class in July, but I’ll tell you all about that day next week.