The Newest Health Drink That’s Already In Your Kitchen

I’ve always been one to have my friends’ backs. And today, I’m defending a dear friend of mine who has gotten a bad rep. A friend who is always there for me, to add some pep into my step….. Okay, it’s coffee. But I’m sure many of you hold this lifesaving drink in as high of regard as I do. I would classify myself as fairly dependent on the stuff, but I’ve always had a lingering feeling of guilt for getting that extra cup. Somewhere along the way, I had been brainwashed to think it was unhealthy for my heart….or something. I recently came across some pro-coffee health articles and started digging further. It turns out that most of coffee’s health drawbacks are myths!

Recently, researchers far and wide have been discovering several serious health benefits associated with coffee. If you want the nitty-gritty, I’ll post a link to the articles at the end, but here’s the breakdown for you…

IMG_5991

Heart

  • Three separate studies looking at the long term consumption of coffee and the risk of (1) cardiovascular disease, (2) stroke, and (3) heart failure showed moderate coffee consumers (2-5 cups a day) were at lowest risk for these conditions, compared with those who drank none.
  • Consumption had to reach 10 cups of coffee to see negative associations
  • Coffee previously blamed for causing heart disease – new research suggests in may actually help prevent it
    • Study of more than 25,000 middle-aged people (aka A LOT) – those who drank 3-5 cups per day had 41% less calcium buildup in arteries than non-coffee drinkers

Cancer

  • Anti-cancer effects come from coffee’s high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Italian scientists gathered 16 years’ worth of data (A LOT) to find direct link between coffee consumption and fewer incidences of liver cancer – 3rd most common cause of cancer death
  • May improve insulin signaling, which helps prevent diabetes, which can increase the risk of developing liver cancer
  • Drastically reduces the risk of malignant melanoma
    • National Cancer Institute study of 450,000 men and women, controlled for other factors that could impact skin cancer risk, showed decreased risk
    • Regular coffee only, not decaf
    • Only people consuming 4+ cups of coffee saw significant risk reduction

IMG_5992

Other Awesome Benefits

  • Shown to slow the cognitive decline of aging including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
  • Drinking coffee before your workout: increased energy and effectiveness
  • Drinking after your workout: coffee combined with carbs helps glycogen transfer more quickly from blood to muscles, essentially restoring muscles after a workout

Another myth to debunk is that tea is better than coffee…some researchers now believe that coffee is better for you than tea because it contains more caffeine and antioxidants, which are the main factors that result in benefits. Like most things health-related, there’s a right amount, but surprisingly, less is not always better. The recommended dosage is 3-5 cups a day, which doctors say allows you to reap the benefits without negatively impacting blood pressure. If that seems like a lot to you, remember we are talking 8 oz. cups here. I, for one, know that’s not my standard size. We’re also talking black coffee, not vanilla lattes and mocha frappucinos…now that would be too good to be true.

Bottom line: bust out the WhiteStrips and drink up!


Links: Here, Here, Here

The Diet That DOESN’T Work

Why do so many people go on a diet, to then end up gaining more weight than before? It’s because there are so many misconceptions out there about dieting and weight loss, and the majority of dieters are under-informed. Like most things out there, there is a right way and a wrong way to diet, and it all comes down to the means you use to get to the end. The end being the weight loss.

Arguably the most common method of dieting is counting calories. While it is proven that consuming less calories leads to weight loss, there are other factors to this method that also determine your short-term and long-term results. Let’s take Weight Watchers for example. As a former user of WW, the goal is to stay within your assigned number of daily calories. Let’s say you cave and eat a muffin along with your normal egg breakfast and suddenly realize you are already up to 550 calories and it’s only 8:30am. It looks like you’re skipping lunch to make up for that overindulgence, and by dinner you’re ravenous and can’t resist that second serving. Even if you managed to stay under your daily calorie allotment, this method WILL NOT lead to long-term sustained weight loss.

Skipping meals is not the way to go, and will usually backfire…right back on to your hips. Studies have shown that skipping meals can mess with your metabolism and cause you more trouble; here’s how it works.

When you skip a meal and don’t eat for an extended period of time, your body triggers a famine response, which means that your metabolism slows down in an attempt to preserve energy and your body increases fat storage for survival. The longer you go without eating, the more you are training your body that it must store (rather than burn) fat and calories, because it doesn’t know when the next meal will come. Our bodies are biologically programmed this way for survival.

diet cycle

Inevitably, one day you get off your diet and go back to eating normally. Even if you had temporarily lost weight from the calorie decrease, you’re in for a surprise. With the slower metabolism you have created, every mouthful you take is going to affect you more than it did before the diet. You will likely regain the weight from the fat that your body has learned to store during those starvation periods. And then it was all for what???

While everyone is different, these are scientifically proven processes in your body that many people don’t take into consideration. More frequent eating keeps the metabolism running and active, and prevents the body from using the emergency-like famine responses. If you think that this means your food choices don’t matter and you can eat whatever you want as often as you want, then you need to go back to the basics. Obviously, when you are eating more often (and even when you’re not), you should choose healthy food options, which also will keep your calorie count low.

So, my friends, permission to snack. But put down the Cheetos…

I'm watching you

Embracing Your Body

This video moved me when I came across it today. The way that us women often describe our bodies is heartbreaking. Eating right and exercising rank high on my priority list, oftentimes in the interest of health, but also too often in the interest of physical appearance.

Each of us has our own insecurities that influence this body shaming, but where did we learn the rules of how a body is supposed to look? We start off as babies with beautiful round tummies and rolls on our legs, and as we grow up, we are taught by our surroundings what a “perfect body” is. Our society, family, friends, and social media are some of the things that teach us how we’re supposed to look. I, for one, can’t remember many times in my life that society helped me feel BETTER about my physical appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my social media and don’t plan to give it up anytime soon, but it surely contributes to the perfection standards that exist all around us.

Each person’s body acceptance is a deeply personal process, but this video served as a good reminder for me to be less critical of myself and to focus on health and fitness as tools to refuel and refine this vessel that God has given me to carry me through this life.

I’m looking forward to what the Embrace Documentary will bring us in the future. Follow their progress here.

Higher Vibrations

The spiritual masters and yogis out there will probably know exactly what I’m talking about from the title. For other readers, this may seem like a fancy, hippie-ish way to classify a topic that each of us encounters in our daily lives. Now, I am a very logical, factual-thinking type of person, but this concept, that was recently introduced to me in a book, fully resonated with me. It’s not the Denver culture rubbing off on me, but living in a new city for the last six months has helped open my eyes to different ways of thinking and living. This concept may or may not work for you, but I found it as an interesting way to view a topic that can help you take control of your life.

First off is the understanding that the world is made up of energy, and all energy vibrates at a certain frequency. The concept of “thought vibration” is determining whether the way you think is empowering or disempowering. “Essentially, thoughts that vibrate at a higher level are likely to be strong, positive and healthy thoughts, whereas thoughts that vibrate at a low level are liable to be negative, harmful and disempowering.”

The law of attraction then comes into play, meaning “like attracts like,” and that focusing on positive or negative thoughts can bring about positive or negative results. The argument is that what you think about most is what you manifest in your life.

change your thoughts

I’ve had some unfortunate things happen in my life lately, especially over the past month. It’s been a great example of the saying “when it rains, it pours,” and I’ve found it difficult to stay positive or to see happiness in my surroundings. This method is about turning your mindset around and believing, even when things are at their crappiest, that there is a bright shiny flipside within your reach. But, belief must be coupled with action, and this concept would suggest that I have to raise my frequency to match the vibration of the one I want to tune into.

We’ve all been around people who we would describe as giving off “good vibrations” (cue Marky Mark), and feeling drawn to them. In turn, we’ve also experienced the people who “give off bad vibes.” So, this concept isn’t as far from our regular lives as it may initially sound.

Raising your thoughts to a higher level of frequency is not an overnight change. Gradual improvement will lead to the point where higher vibrations become your natural state. Some actions to achieve this include becoming conscious of your thoughts and only letting the positive ones affect you, acknowledging and dismissing the negative. Good energy can also come from hanging out with people who vibrate highly, practicing random acts of kindness (who doesn’t feel better after that?), and being grateful.

While this might already sound like how you try to live your life today, everyone falls off track and into low frequency thought patterns – depression, sadness, anger – at times. This is another example of how much power your mind has over your life, and how you can change it, and therefore, change the world around you.

vibrate higher

Info source

The Go-To Online Workout You Must Check Out

I’ve been on a bit of a personal hiatus lately, after the death of someone dear to me. I may address this subject later when the time seems right, but for now I’m trying to move back into normal life.

I was out of town for several days due to this situation, and missing my regular ass-kickings at the gym. Fitness is a very important part of my life, and I just about go crazy if I haven’t had a workout in a few days. I become convinced that I can feel the extra pounds around my waist and face, and miss the endorphin-inducing sweat that I’m used to.

When I’m on-the-go, I refer to my repertoire of online workouts to keep me moving. I am by no means a gym rat and need variety to keep me motivated, so my online exercise sources are a weekly complement to my classes at the gym. I want to share with you one of my favorite places to go to quickly pull up an exercise routine.

Tone It Up was created by two beautiful young women to inspire women everywhere to get moving and get results. Staring at their rockin’ bods during your workout video is motivation enough! On their website, they feature hundreds of before-and-after photos of amazing results from women using their workouts and healthy eating plans. Perhaps one of the transformations that caught my attention the most was of one of the creators herself. Here it is…and don’t attribute it to photoshop. You can witness her toned bod for yourself in her workout videos.

tone it up before after kat

I’ve tested out countless numbers of online workout videos in my years, and these girls nailed a few of the factors that make me come back for more.

  • Targeted workouts for specific parts of the body: the drop-down menu under “Fitness” allows you to choose from abs, arms, booty, legs, etc.
  • Light-hearted, fun workouts: these 2 ladies bring their cute personalities to the stage, making you want to be their best friend (who you secretly loathe for their body)
  • Recipe ideas
  • SHORT WORKOUTS: people, most of the workout videos are less than 15 minutes, but still get the work done! Combine a couple of videos to focus on different parts of your body, or do a short video in addition to a walk or run
  • Social media: their Instagram account is a fun mix of their daily lives and new, exciting exercise content on the site

Check them out at toneitup.com, and I guarantee you won’t regret it!

fitness

Be Happy Today

The internet is full of inspirational quotes and sayings about how to live your life – what to do, what not to do, how to be happy – the list goes on and on. I personally can’t get through one time-sucking, Pinterest-browsing session without reading a quote that speaks to me and my life. Like many of you I’m sure, I reflect on that quote for several seconds, and then it is filed away in my “Quotes” board, unnoticed by me for another six months. The days get busy and we fall into old habits and our usual flaws. When I do go back and read through these simple sayings, it’s the best reminder and opportunity to re-focus parts of my life.

Recently I found a quote that suggests a very simple idea, but is something that I believe everyone can relate to.

Quote

Continue reading

Why I tried meditation, and you should too.

meditation 2As I lay in bed one night, my mind raced so quickly from one thing to the next that I couldn’t even finish a complete thought. There was so much to be done the next day, the next week, before the deadline, that I felt completely consumed and aware. Every minute that was passing by was one minute closer to my alarm sounding and inducing immediate anxiety. My mind was in a whirl, and I thought of the words of my yoga teacher. She insisted that breathing was the most vital part of the practice and to keep a constant awareness of it. After three deep inhales and exhales, I felt my entire body relax, without realizing that my legs, toes, and back had been tensed this entire time I was laying in bed. Perhaps this allowed my exhaustion to take over, because next thing I knew, I was waking up to my alarm the following morning.

Was it meditation? Sure, at least for a beginner. I realized that “meditation” was not just for the zen’ed-out hippie with loads of free time to sit and reflect. As I started to look further into meditation and the methods for beginners, I realized why we seem to hear more about it day to day. There are overwhelming amounts of research proving the multiple benefits that come from meditation, including both psychological and physical results. Meditation is perhaps the simplest way to quickly improve your overall well-being. And who doesn’t desire quick results nowadays?

I’m not a doctor (surprise!), so I won’t pretend to explain how and why these effects can occur, but you can read more about it in this Forbes article. The benefits most observed by meditators in these studies were lower heart rate and blood pressure, and a decrease in overall stress and anxiety. Improved attention and concentration were also often present, and studies have even used standardized tests to prove that people scored higher after just a couple of weeks of meditation.

Continue reading

The “V” Word

BalloonsI want to begin with the “V” word, because it encompasses everything that I’m feeling right now, and it’s also a driving force behind my motivation to begin writing. The “V” word is vulnerability, and it has been in the forefront of my mind these past few weeks, thanks to a thought-provoking book written by Brené Brown called “Daring Greatly.” In the book, Brown teaches that “Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable.” It’s something we can all relate to, as it’s impossible to avoid in life. Much to the dismay of the escape artist in my head, I am making a personal attempt to view this cringe-inducing word as a positive, and to dive in headfirst.

In the world that I see, vulnerability is typically associated with thoughts of negative emotions, such as fear, rejection, and disappointment. But when looking at it from a glass-half-full of wine perspective, it’s undeniable that vulnerability is also engrained in the emotions we most seek in life. To again quote Brown, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

Now how does this all relate to me? I have long brushed off the recurring desire to begin writing, hugely due to the vulnerability tied to publishing my thoughts on the internet (because once it’s out there, it never truly goes away, right?). Another drawback was thinking about how absurd it would be for anyone to care about what I had to say on this little webpage. I’m still battling the fear of being judged and criticized by anyone reading these words, including acquaintances and peers, moreso than just strangers. However, I’ve decided I need to let loose the reigns and get outside my comfort zone in order to feel MORE and explore MORE. With the encouragement of a loving girlfriend and the need for a creative outlet, I decided to start this blog.

This is part of a greater self-improvement journey that I’ve prescribed to myself for 2015, which will have a continual presence throughout these posts. I promise to provide much more exciting content than the personal feelings I’ve shared here today. However, in my goal to be open and honest in my words, this felt like the best way to begin. As I unravel more of the topics I plan to discuss, I will continue learning and sharing, while keeping the words of a wise Dr. Seuss in my head:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”