How To Take Charge Of Your Life And Unleash The Success Inside Of You

A quick note… I often ponder on a topic for a day or two, (and sometimes even longer) but as soon as I start typing, it gets done in one shot and I hit send.

Once I start typing, it just flows out. But not this time. I’ve been wanting to write about today’s topic for a while, which is good, but today is day 7, yes SEVEN, that I try and finish it. 7 days to write one darn report. And I’m not talking about pondering, I’ve been planning this report for months, but literally just the typing part is taking what seems like forever.

Is it because it’s longer? Not any more than usual, so don’t panic! The reason is simple: This report, and the point behind it, above EVERYTHING ELSE I’ve ever talked about, will have the single greatest impact on your life.

Grasping this concept that I’m writing about will single-handedly transform your life, every area of your life, and drive you to success; or failure, for that matter. Your acceptance of the lesson being taught is irrelevant as it works regardless of your participation. You can use it to lead you to success, or ignore it and let it lead you to failure.

So what’s the problem? Well, I wouldn’t call it a problem, but more of a challenge. I want it to be near perfect. I’ll only get one shot at this. All other talks on this topic will be read with slightly less enthusiasm than this initial time, and I believe it would impact your life so much it’s scary.

Take the time to read this report in full, remembering it applies to all the areas of your life – and I invite you to challenge its core principle. Keep an open mind and resist the urge to become heated, emotional, angry, happy, or anything for that matter – the goal is to remain objective, keeping an open mind and be a student. So without further ado, let’s dive in.

First off, cut out the excuses. The other day in my newsfeed someone wrote “I’ve tried EVERYTHING to lose weight and I just can’t get the weight to come off”.

What a silly statement.

Everything? Really?

There’s not a day that goes by that we’re not bombarded with some new diet program.

I highly doubt they’ve tried everything to lose weight. In fact, I highly doubt they’ve even tried cutting out junk food for longer than a week!

Tried everything…

If you’re curious, at the time of this writing, there are 709 diets listed out there. But don’t worry, we’re not here to talk about trying everything, nor do I think it’s a good strategy.

I want to show you how your strategy, although it could be a problem, is not the SOURCE of your problem. I don’t really care what diet program you follow, assuming it works for you.

I can GUARANTEE you that I can pick ANY diet in this list, and then find another 50 that say that the one you picked is all wrong and give you the exact opposite advice.

There is SO MUCH garbage out there, and so many different ways to skin a cat, that 99% of the time people get bogged down with the details, with the program, with this, with that, that they never leave the gate.

When I line up to race motocross, if I start looking around and noticing, dang, his bikes a Yamaha, his is a Honda, his is a Suzuki, his is a Gas-Gas, his is a Husky, etc. and then see this guy has this modification, that guy has a different add on and this and that and next thing you know the gate has dropped, everyone took off and I never even started my bike.

That’s basically the way I see it when I hear people debating diets. Everyone’s so busy looking around at what the other guy’s doing, what that other “expert” said, that they never get started.

This is paralysis by analysis.

So what the heck do you do? How do you know what’s right? How do you know where to turn, what to do? In today’s day and age, I know people that don’t know a fruit from a vegetable yet are giving out health advice.

Now with the internet, everyone’s an “expert”. People bash one another, they copy each other anyone can be anyone – and that can lead to a lot of unhappy experiences.

My philosophy when it comes to filtering through the mess has always been the same, BE A STUDENT, not a follower, and learn what’s best for you. Learn what you can and make your own decisions based on what feels right and what works for you.

Know your end goal but be flexible with your approach and adjust the strategy as you go, keeping the goal always fresh in your mind. Don’t let someone else guide your life, take your own life by the horns.

So what does that mean, you’re supposed to go through every program and decide what’s best for you? As a popular YouTube video goes… “Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!”

Obviously, with 700 + diets, you aren’t about to read every book on the planet to find out where to start? Want to know a shortcut? Find someone who has achieved, or is currently achieving the results you’re after and copy them. This is called modeling the masters.

The beauty about results is they speak for themselves. No boasting, no bragging, no fancy sales script, no arm twisting, no snake oil. Come in weighing 250, leave weighing 165 – those are results you can count on. And if they are achieving consistent results, model what they do and you’ll achieve similar results.

In every area of life, someone has already walked the path you’re about to walk, someone’s been along that journey before, and I can GUARANTEE you they have tips, ideas and philosophies that will drastically shorten your learning curb and get you to your goal much faster.

I’m here to explain to you the REAL problem.

The problem with:

 

  • gaining weight
  • making meals, prepping meals
  • planning snacks
  • eating while on the road or away from home or long, 12 hour shifts
  • binging
  • eating clean while the rest of the family stuffs their face with McDonald’s
  • enjoying life
  • living life with VITALITY and not average energy
  • eating all the foods you want so bad that aren’t good for you
  • and anything else in life.

 

Yep, this reports that good.

Excited? You should be, because this lesson is one that could change your life forever. To get started, I want to explain something… this report, the “basis” of it, the lesson, applies to all areas of your life, NOT just nutrition or fitness.(But for the sake of this report I’ll always be talking about it in terms of nutrition.)

This topic, at its core, will explain the issue behind…

 

  • financial problems
  • personal problems
  • relationships problems
  • education problems
  • parenting problems
  • etc.

 

The problem is NOT what you eat, the problem is right between your EARS.

Ouch.

So what Al, you’re saying… if I want to be a better parent, but I’m not, the problem is me?

If I want to be more financially secure, but I’m not, the problem is me?

If I want to have more time for myself, but I don’t, the problem is me?

If I want to be in a better relationship, but I’m not, the problem is me?

If I want to ___________, the problem is me?

Yes. And with that comes great power.

Don’t count me crazy just yet… hear me out… Your PHILOSOPHY about any given subject will determine your outcome.

It’s your philosophy about money that will determine your actions and decisions – and the result.

It’s your philosophy about parenting that will determine your actions and decisions – and the result.

It’s your philosophy about education that will determine your actions and decisions – and the result.

It’s your philosophy about nutrition that will determine your actions and decisions – and the result. It’s your philosophy about any given subject that will determine your actions and decisions and subsequent result. Listen, you are NOT a TREE. You are not stuck where you are. YOU have the remote control of your life. YOU control your destiny. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can get on with sculpting YOUR ULTIMATE LIFE.

The longer you blame everything else or believe the story you’ve been telling yourself, the longer you will remain completely OUT OF CONTROL of your own life – and I believe that’s what messes with the mind the most. Imagine you’re at a friend’s house about to watch a movie. You really want to see the new Expendables movie. In fact, it’s your dream to see that movie; you’ve waited all your life to see it.

You sit down with a bowl of popcorn and get pumped for the movie. Your friend turns the TV on, and instead of your dream movie, he throws on a TV show you absolutely HATE and instead of doing something about it, you just sit there and watch it. Episode after episode, becoming more and more annoyed, irritated, stressed, until finally, life has passed you by, you’re nearing the end, and you never got to watch the Expendables.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone just came along and changed the movie for you. Or took the big mac out of your mouth. Or went for a jog for you. Or. Or. Or.

Now sure that’s an obvious over-dramatization, but that’s exactly how some people live their lives. They let others call the shots, never stepping up and taking charge of their lives. You can blame everything in the world for where you’re at, but if you never get up and change the channel of your own life, the finger only needs to be pointed at you.

It’s your philosophy about life that will greatly determine how you live it.

Person A lives life pointing fingers waiting for someone to come along and help them, while person B takes charge, grabs life by the horns, and makes life happen (pardon the profanity). The only difference between Person A and Person B is their philosophy on how life is.

I want to remind you… I’m not here to give you heck about anything, but I believe that this topic can significantly change the way you look at nutrition (and life) and deliver lasting results.

In fact, my father and I were discussing this topic the other day and we both were brainstorming a way to get the message across WITHOUT feeling like we are giving you heck! Because we’re not.

I’m here to be that TRUE friend that will tell it like it is, tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. I won’t be the guy who pats you on the back and says “it’s okay, it’s not that bad, and it’s not your fault”. That’s crap and you know it, and that’s not me!

I will, however, tell it to you straight even if it hurts your feelings if it’s best for you.

Okay, back to nutrition…

Your philosophy on nutrition is the determining factor on whether you will or will not reach your goal – and if it’s sustainable.

Like nearly everything in life, it’s 20% strategy, 80% psychology. I was just chatting with someone the other day and they were complaining that they couldn’t afford our programs and had to quit and has since put back on the weight he had lost, AND then SOME (Quite a bit more, in fact).

Let me tell you the same thing I told him… It’s not about the money or not being at the club that is the problem. It’s his psychology; it’s how he views health. I don’t care if you’re flat broke, you can get in incredible shape with ZERO money. If your health was number 1, if you valued your body the way you should, you’d find a way to stay fit and healthy NO MATTER WHAT. In fact there are videos going around of homeless people in New York City working out every day to stay healthy.

Blaming money is cowardly, it’s hiding, and it’s making excuses. Over the past 12 years we’ve given TONS of special arrangements when someone comes to us saying they wish they could continue but this and that and this unforeseen issue is tying up all their $$, so we agree to let them come for free until they are back on their feet. And guess what? They never continue. Never. EVER!

Because money wasn’t the problem. It’s just the easiest thing to point the finger at. Sure, there’s the 1% that can’t afford it, the exception to every rule, but the odds of that 1% being you is incredibly low. (Side note, you can blame not having money, or you can go out and make more money and take charge of your financial situation – same philosophy applies) Just so we don’t forget this isn’t just about nutrition… Your philosophy about any given subject will significantly affect the end result.

When it comes to YOU, only YOU can fix YOU.

Yes, there are some really good things to blame, in fact we’ve ALL used some. I know I’ve blamed all kinds of stuff for my lack of results in different areas of my life.

Want to know what I discovered?

If the problem is something or someone else, I can’t fix it – and that SUCKS. But, as soon as I realized the problem was me, see now that’s something I can do something about, it’s something I can fix. I can always fix me.

I like how Jim Rohn says “The problem isn’t that it’s too expensive, it’s that you can’t afford it.”

If it’s just too expensive, you can’t change that. If it’s because you can’t afford it, see that you control. I want to buy a Maserati. I highly doubt no matter how much I whine and complain that they are going to lower their price. BUT, I can take control of my own life and learn the necessary skills to earn enough to buy it. See I have things on my goal list that I can’t afford, and I don’t waste a second of my day praying for the price to drop. But, I do spend hours working on my skills so that I can one day afford it.

How you view diet, health, fitness, nutrition will be the ONLY determining factor for your success.

Want to know what the biggest difference between John, a client of mine who is absolutely CRUSHING IT (He’s down 110 pounds in 7 months), and those who can’t seem to drop any weight? He’s not on a diet. He’s not on something he plans to end. He changed the way he thinks and looks at food. He changed his philosophy about nutrition and that’s a REAL life transformation. Listen, if every time I make a health suggestion you think to yourself “Hell no, there ain’t no way I’m cutting my super-duper sodas out” then I’m sorry, I have little hope for you.

Is it because soda’s that bad? No, not at all. I mean, yes it is bad, but not enough for me to lose hope.

What causes me to lose hope is the action of you saying things like “I can’t cut that out” because of what it does to your psyche. It’s what it tells me about your philosophy about health.

Let’s compare two things: Let’s say one person says “I’m not cutting out cheese”, and another says “For my body, I’m willing to try anything, even if that means cutting out cheese”, see the problem there is found in the mind, that’s simply two different attitudes, two different philosophies. It’s not the cheese that’s bad – it’s the way of thinking that’s problematic.

One says I’m willing to care for my body as long as it doesn’t affect my instantaneous pleasure, while another says I’m willing to care for my body and do whatever it takes to treat it like a temple and not an hourly rate hotel.

Let me give you a little tip…

Your life is 100% yours.

Yes, you may have mentors, teachers, a spouse, kids, other family, friends, coaches, etc that help you, guide you, push you, tie you down, hold you back or anything positive or negative. But, at the end of the day, when you lay down and close your eyes, it’s JUST YOU.

If you ate McDonald’s because someone else offered it to you, you can blame them all you want but at the end of the day that’s in your body and you stand alone. You may have to cook for a family of 5 and everyone wants junk food and you don’t feel like prepping your own meal, and that’s fine, but at the end of the day, it’s still you, your body.

You may have candy and treats and deserts laying around the office or home all day long, but at the end of the day it’s still YOU who decides to eat them or not. I think you get the point…

Nearly ALL of life’s challenges are MENTAL. Our physical bodies are powerful beyond measure; it’s our mental game that is weak. Don’t believe me? What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to eating clean and cutting out the crap?

Really think about it…

Let’s say it’s binge eating… you do great all day long, and then come 7pm you eat everything in sight.

Is your problem that you physically can’t control your arm, that it acts beyond and outside of your control, it opens the fridge and shoves garbage down your throat? Or maybe someone ties you down and force feeds you chips and cake. Or is it a mental challenge? And hey, if someone is tying you down and force feeding you chocolate cake, get help or sit back enjoy it. I know this report is getting long… but I want to drive the point home… YOU and YOU alone are responsible for you.

You are POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE – but you can’t access that power until you take charge of your own life. For as long as it’s someone or something else’s fault, you are powerless.

A car is one heck of a powerful machine but until you hit the gas and tell it what to do, it’s useless and will sit and rust until its final day when it won’t run any longer.

The funny thing is if you look at my meal plan and think to yourself screw him, I’m eating whatever I want! It really has NO impact on me. BUT, the impact on YOU is great. In fact, you alone bear all the consequences of your own actions. (And, unfortunately, when we have children they bear it as well.) I want to challenge you, just for 15 days, two short weeks, to look at your life from a different angle. To look at life from the perspective of “I am solely in charge of my life” and see what happens. If it sucks and you don’t like it, great, go back to your own ways but feel proud you gave it a fair shot. Trust me, there are many who would complain about this idea without ever trying it. That’s like someone saying they can’t stand the taste of bananas without ever trying a banana – it’s foolish and that person shouldn’t be trusted.

I used to blame all kinds of stuff. I had excuses for just about everything. In fact, I still have some I’m working on. Life is a journey and I am a student, always learning, always competing against ME to be the best version of ME possible.

I’m telling you, when your philosophy switches from “Life happens TO ME” to “I make LIFE HAPPEN”, everything changes.

I’m blessed with three beautiful kids and I never take my parenting for granted. I never assumed I knew how to parent and I picked up dozens of books on how to parent and am lucky enough to have a wife who’s the same way. I personally think she’s the best mother in the world. She takes care of 3 kids, basically on her own (I just try and keep them alive), she home schools, she does the house work, cooks the meals, she’s amazing. And even with all that, she still stays up until almost midnight every day reading. The other day she even took part in a webinar on different types of parenting strategies.

She’s always learning, always growing. And that drive comes from understanding that YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF YOUR OWN LIFE.

When I started riding dirt bikes, I didn’t assume that once I got on and was able to ride, that was all there was to learn. I bought books, magazines, watched videos, everything. In fact, even after having won a 1st place trophy in a 6 hour cross country race, I still took part in a weekend long dirt biking seminar to learn and improve my skills.

I could go on and on. A quick check of my personal library confirms my point.

Be a student of life.

Understand that YOU ARE IN CHARGE, and that means that YOU HAVE THE POWER. You have the remote. You choose the movie. You are the reaper and the sower of your own life. You are the accumulation of your decisions and actions to this date.

You are in the driver’s seat.

Lead your life to where you want it to go. And if you don’t like where it is, or where it’s heading don’t beat yourself up! Feel powerful knowing you can change your life at any point.

And never stop believing in yourself.

You. Can. Do. It.

To your success

Al

PS – One last point to ponder… When you refuse to accept responsibility, you are essentially giving your power away to others people or things. Don’t live your life as someone’s puppet. You are better than that. Step up and take charge.

Sleeping for Success in School

Am I telling you to encourage your child to sleep in school? NO! If your child is sleeping in school or falling asleep doing their homework, it means your child is not getting the right quantity and/or quality of sleep at night.

Your child’s sleep has a significant impact on their performance in school.

For our children to be healthy they need good nutrition, exercise and enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation says our elementary school children, ages 5-12, need 10-11 hours of sleep per night. The quality and quantity of sleep determines learning and retention of that learning.

Clinical psychologist Reut Gruber, director of the Attention Behavior and Sleep Lab at the Douglas Research Center in Quebec, Canada, led a research team examining the sleep of 75 children ages 7-11. This study looked at the effect on grades for the children based on the quality of their sleep.

“Short or poor sleep is a significant risk factor for poor academic performance that is frequently ignored,” says Gruber. The study looked at the effect of poor quality sleep in several subject areas.

Based on the study, Gruber says, “For math and languages, we need to use the skills that are called ‘executive functions’ – things like working memory, planning, not being distracted. The hardware that supports those skills is in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which is very sensitive to the effects of poor sleep or insufficient sleep.”

Lack of sleep also effects the behavior of your child in the classroom. Sleep deprived children have more difficulty controlling their emotions and impulses.

“We know that sleep deprivation can affect memory, creativity, verbal creativity and even things like judgment and motivation and being (engaged) in the classroom,” explains Dr. Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington.

As a sleep consultant I teach sleep hygiene for children and coach families to develop healthy sleep habits.

My five sleep habits for school age children:

1. Consistent bedtime and wake-up time

The same bedtime each night sets the body’s 24-hour rhythm. The bedtime chosen should allow the child to receive the recommended 10-11 hours of sleep per night. A consistent bedtime will teach the child’s body to anticipate and be ready for sleep. Make sleep a priority by making their bedtime a priority.

2. Bedtime Routine

Twenty to thirty minutes before bedtime is preparation for sleep. The blue lights from TV, pads and smart phone screens wake the brain up. So no screen viewing for 30 minutes prior to bedtime.

The child should not go to bed hungry, but should be finished eating about two hours prior to bedtime. Avoid caffeine about six hours prior to bedtime.

Develope a routine to follow each night before bed. It might include a bath, pajamas, and reading a book together and/or alone.

3. Bedroom environment

The room should be dark. Use room darkening shades or curtains to keep the room dark in the evening or early morning.

The temperature of the room should be between 67 and 72 degrees.

4. White noise

Background or white noise blocks the other sounds of your house or neighborhood which might interrupt your child’s sleep. White noise machines should be placed about 5 feet from your child. A fan can also be used for white noise.

5. Sleep is a privilege. Do not use going to bed as a punishment. Sleep is just as important as food for your child. Teach your child to value their sleep.

Have a healthy sleeping and learning school year for your children!

Resource:

Sleep Efficiency (but not Sleep Duration) of Healthy School-age Children is Associated with Grades in Math and Languages, by Reut Gruber, Gail Somerville, Paul Enros, Soukaina Paquin, Myra Kestler, Elizabeth Gillies-Poitras is published in the journal Sleep Medicine:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2014.08.009

Post Workout Nutrition: The 5 Basic Nutrients

I am often asked: Do I need to eat after my workouts? What foods should be eaten? Post workout nutrition can be more important than the workout itself. It is the best time to load up the body with nutrients for recovery. Are you sure you are getting everything you need?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ diet that is universal for everyone. But everyone is going to need to following 5 nutrients: Protein, carbs, fat, water and electrolytes. That being said, the exact foods someone should eat after a workout depends on any factors such as training goals, allergies, intensity of the workout, and of course, taste preferences

Most people who lift weights know that they need protein after they work out. But what is the best source? Most people just guzzle down over-priced whey powder they bought at the local supplement store. But there are a many problems with whey protein (This will be covered in detail in a later article). Instead of whey, plant-based protein is a much better option. Hemp appears to be one of the best sources available because it has omega 3’s, fibre and enzymes that help with the digestion and absorption. Per scoop, it has less protein that whey, but more of the hemp protein is likely going to be absorbed.

It is ideal to take in 20-40g of protein, depending on the intensity of the workout and other individual factors. It is recommended that you drink a shake immediately after working out. Better yet, drink it during the cool-down to get amino acids into the muscle even faster. Protein powders are broken down and absorbed very rapidly by the digestive system. So, if nutrient filled blood is forced into the muscle through stretching and soft tissue work, it is likely these nutrients are getting to the right muscles very efficiently. Eggs, chicken, beef or most other lean meats will also provide sufficient protein to build lean muscle. Obviously, protein or amino acids aid recovery, but there are many other factors to consider.

For a solid post workout meal, carbs are just as important as protein. This is one of the few times it is ideal to take in fast digesting carbs. A large dose of carbs after a workout is important for 2 reasons. One, carbs are going to replenish muscle glycogen that was lost during the workout. This is going to provide the energy for the next workout. Secondly, fast digesting carbs cause an insulin spike which is a potent anabolic agent. Flipping from a catabolic state (energy using) to an anabolic state (energy storing) is critical for gains. Honey is one of the best carb sources for post workout since it is a natural and is available practically anywhere.

Let’s not forget about the third macro-nutrient: fat. Eating quality fats after working out has many benefits, the most important being a reduction inflammation and the formation of cell membranes. The type of fat you will want to focus on in Omega 3 and Mono-unsaturated fat. Sources include fish, nuts and seeds. But, do you need more than just a bunch macro-nutrients?

One of the most forgotten yet important nutrients to consume post workout nutrition is water. Yes, water is a nutrient that makes up a significant portion of the body’s mass and is utilized in countless metabolic reactions within the body. Water is not only lost through sweat, it is also lost during exercise in the process of the body creating new energy. When exercising, H20 is broken down in the formation of ATP (the muscles primary energy currency). This is why dehydration impairs strength significantly, not to mention blood volume and muscle mass. But there is more to hydration than just water.

Electrolytes are also depleted during intense training. So it is important to get sodium, potassium, and calcium and magnesium post workout along with your meal. These minerals are readily available in most “healthy foods” (fish, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and moat fruits/vegetables. Magnesium in particular is a mineral that many people are notoriously deficient in. Consider adding a magnesium supplement to your regimen.

So there is a lot to think about in regard to post workout nutrition. A plate of meat, rice and vegetables with a few glasses of water will have you covered. If you decide to go the supplemental route, opt for hemp protein, flax oil, honey, an electrolyte replacement (especially focus on magnesium) and a few glasses of water. Be consistent with your post workout nutrition and get the most out of your hard work!

Top Vitamin E Foods and Studies on Vitamin E Benefits

Vitamin E is a health-giving, disease preventing vitamin that is found in many foods such as almonds, leafy greens, sunflower seeds, eggs, sweet potatoes, avocados, olive oil and rice bran oil. Studies are showing that vitamin E benefits include strengthening the heart, assisting in preventing eye disease, boosting immune function and enhancing muscle health.

The top three antioxidant vitamins are Vitamin E, C and A. An “antioxidant” is a nutrient that counteracts and neutralizes the harmful effects of oxygen in the body. These “oxidative” effects contribute to aging and disease and are caused by an unhealthful diet, air pollution, smoking, drinking, and also by the normal processes of digestion and metabolism.

Vitamin E is a key player in the fight for a healthy heart. A study from the New England Journal of Medicine found that men who consumed higher amounts of vitamin E had a lower risk of heart disease. This benefit occurred with 60 to 100 international units (IU) per day, although the amount often used for disease prevention is 400 IU daily.

The health of the red blood cells is vital as they carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. In a study from the journal “Nutrition Research”, the breakdown of red blood cells was decreased by 38% in adults that took 300 milligrams of vitamin E daily for four months. Levels of vitamin E in the blood increased significantly and cellular oxygen stress was lowered by 47%.

The University of Hong Kong did a study on how vitamin E benefits immunity, which showed that there’s a specific requirement for vitamin E in immune cells. The vitamin was demonstrated to strengthen immunity and help immune cells to flourish. Another aspect of vitamin E is that it has the potential for preventing or delaying prostate cancer in men, according to the book “Vitamin E: New Research”.

It isn’t surprising that Vitamin E is vital to the health of the muscles and enhances the ability to exercise, because the heart is essentially muscle tissue and vitamin E is known to strengthen it. In a study from the Medical College of Georgia, it was found that exercise causes muscle cells to burn a lot more oxygen than usual, causing “oxidative” stress in muscles. Their finding was that vitamin E is essential to rapid muscle cell membrane repair and it can also help prevent muscle-wasting diseases.

Vitamin E foods such as nuts, leafy greens, sunflower seeds, eggs, sweet potatoes, avocados, olive oil and rice bran oil are great ways to get more of it and vitamin E supplements are also beneficial to overall health.

Super Foods For Better Vision – The Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Nutrition is one of the vital aspects of caring for your eyes. For example, consuming vegetables rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin, such as Spinach, Broccoli and Kale may help to reduce the risks for chronic diseases such as Macular Degeneration and Cataracts. One particular vegetable that tastes great and is also chuck full of vitamins and minerals is Sweet potatoes. Sweet Potatoes have a variety of nutrients including Beta- Carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium to name a few. This tasty superfood boasts a series of general health benefits including better heart health, anti-cancer fighting properties, stress relief and weight loss. However, did you know that this delicious vegetable is also a good source of eye promoting nutrients? Therefore, here are a series of nutrition benefits this root vegetable provides in improving vision, in addition to its general health benefits:

Source of Beta- Carotene: The Orange Color of sweet potatoes is derived from its Carotenoid content. Carotenoids are defined as pigments that are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables color. From this point of view, Sweet potatoes consist of Beta- Carotene which is converted into Vitamin A in the body. According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration, a large sweet potato consists of 100% of the daily recommended allowance for this nutrient. Vitamin A is an important antioxidant that protects eye cells from damaging and harmful free radicals that cause degenerative diseases, and from this point of view, is essential in promoting better eye health.

Vitamin C and E for Eye Health: According to Ophthalmologist from Duke University, Jill Koury, Scientific Studies show a link between a consumption of Vitamin A, C and E and the promotion of good eye health. According to the American Optometric Association Vitamin C promotes the ocular health of the blood vessels of the eyes. Numerous studies have also identified a link between taking Vitamin C in conjunction with other nutrients such as Beta- Carotene, Vitamin E and Zinc Supplementation. These have been shown to slow down the development of age related Macular Degeneration by 25%. This supplementation was also attributed to a 19% decrease in the loss of visual acuity (sharpness of eyesight).

Better Digestion: According to Rebecca Katz of the “Longevity Kitchen Magazine” when eaten with the skins, this nutrient rich eye food provides more fiber than a cup of Oatmeal thereby helping the digestive system to function more efficiently.

Anticancer Fighting Properties: According to the National institutes of Health scientific studies suggest that Beta- Carotene has been shown to reduce the risks of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women and ovarian cancer in post-menopausal women.

Heart Health: Sweet potatoes consist of potassium that supports heart health by lowering blood pressure, and according to the American heart Association, consists of an electrolyte that normalizes and regulates healthy heart rhythm.

Stress Reduction: According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, sweet potatoes due to their Magnesium content have a beneficial effect on relieving stress in the body by promoting a general feeling of relaxation, calmness and a positive mood.

Sweet potatoes are a super food for maintaining heart health, aiding digestion relieving stress, fighting cancer, and promoting weight loss. Additionally, its rich content in Vitamin A, in addition to other nutrients such as Vitamin B-6,C and E, when incorporated into a healthy balanced diet with other vegetables, this superfood is a helpful nutritional aid in promoting better vision and overall health to boot.

Healthy Meal of the Week 31 With Healthy Leftover Idea

Healthy Meal of the Week: Slow Cooked Chicken, Brown Rice & Corn Cob
Healthy Leftover Idea: Chicken Sandwiches

Here’s an easy-to-prepare meal using your wonderful slow cooker that may likely be sitting sadly in the corner of your kitchen waiting patiently to be called upon. When planned accordingly, this meal can be all ready to eat when you return home especially if the rice and corn variety you purchase is the microwave type variety. Not to worry if you don’t have those or want to spend the extra money on them since the rice and corn will only take about 20 minutes to prepare.

For the leftover meal, you’ll have a great handheld treat weighing in only around 250 calories each if prepared as described below.

Equipment Needed
– slow cooker (Crock Pot)
– pan with lid for rice (or rice cooker)
– large pot for corn

Prep Time
– 5 minutes

Cooking Time
– 4-8 hours depending on temperature setting

Ingredients
(4-6 servings)
– 1 prepackaged whole chicken
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 16 ounces chicken broth
– 2 tablespoons seasoned salt
– 3-4 whole corn on the cob
– 1 cup brown rice
– 1/4 cup honey
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– optional: butter/margarine for corn & rice
– optional: 3 bay leaves for rice

For Chicken Sandwiches
– 100 calorie multi grain sandwich slenders
– shredded cheese
– chili paste/salsa

Directions

*Decide if you want to cook the chicken on either the low setting for 6-8 hours or high setting for 4-5 hours.

1. Open the chicken package and rinse well with cold water in your kitchen sink. Place the whole chicken inside your clean slow cooker.

2. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons seasoned salt to 16 oz. chicken broth and stir/mix well. Add solution to the slow cooker and turn on to the desired setting. Remember to set a timer or the alarm on your phone for 6-8 hours on low or 4-5 hours if slow cooker is on high.

3. When there is approximately 1 hour left on the timer, add the 1/4 cup honey on top of the chicken. Recover and let finish cooking.

4. About now you can start cooking the rice and corn. For the corn, fill a large pot about 1/2 way with hot water and bring to a boil on the stove. While that’s happening peel the corn husks off each piece you plan to cook. Rinse the corn pieces under the sink to get rid of any straggling husk pieces. For this meal example, the corn pieces were snapped in half to make leftover travel portions easy to fit in the plastic containers, but this choice is entirely up to you. When water is boiling place pieces in the water and set a timer for 20 minutes.

5. If you want to prepare the brown rice the same way as this meal, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to your rice pan and turn on to low/medium temperature. Add 1 cup of brown rice and stir frequently for 3 minutes. Add one cup of chicken broth along with 3 bay leaves. Stir and allow to cook/soak in for a couple of minutes. Add 1 cup of hot water, increase temperature until rice mixture comes to a boil stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, cover pan with lid and set timer for 18 minutes. That’s all there’s to it!

6. Once chicken is finished cooking, turn off slow cooker and using two forks, you should be able to easily tear off pieces from the whole chicken, at least enough for the servings you’ll need for now. You can get the rest later when you are putting leftovers into containers or making the leftover sandwiches as listed below. You can also try to carefully pull the entire chicken out, but it may be easier to wait until liquid is a bit cooler to do this. The choice is entirely up to you.

7. Serve an appropriate portion size with an optional bit of butter on the corn, and a spoonful of the slow cooker liquid on the rice/chicken and enjoy!

Healthy Leftover Idea: Chicken Sandwiches

The best thing about these leftover sandwiches is that if you use the right type of bread/wrap, there’s no reason why these sandwiches can’t be made to be easily under 300 calories each. Combine that with a piece of fruit and a nice large glass of water and you have a nutritious lunch that will be right around 400 calories total. Isn’t that far better than the 1,300+ calorie meal you’ll find at any fast food spot?

Hopefully your local supermarket has a nice selection of bread/wraps and look for these multigrain 100 calorie sandwich slenders or something else that’s similar in calorie count. Open up the pre-sliced bun and layer the bottom slice with 2 tablespoons of cooked brown rice. In order to spice up this sandwich a bit, some ground fresh chili paste was added, but literally any of your favorite can be used. Carefully dice up some chicken into fine pieces and add a couple of tablespoons on top of the rice/chili paste side. Finally add a bit of shredded cheese then the top piece of the bun and you have quickly yet effectively created a delicious travel sandwich that you will find quite enjoyable for lunch the following day. Just be sure to wrap it up securely in a piece of foil so all the fixings don’t fall out.

Your Job Provides A Healthy Living Opportunity

Even though it was a bit sad when my summer vacation recently came to an end, I was actually looking forward to getting back into my healthy work routine. Sure waking up at 5am is not the most enjoyable things to do in the world, and the potential hour-long commute is another part of the routine that I really did not miss these past ten weeks. But aside from a few annoyances, sticking with my work routine really helps keep me focused on healthy living habits which in turn translates into weight loss.

This past summer was jam-packed with what seemed like one event after another. When there wasn’t some type of mini excursion going on, I was dealing with unexpected family issues that needed to be taken care of. As innocent as those scenarios may sound, in all actuality each one provided instances where sticking with an appropriate portion size of food and calorie count for the day became incredibly difficult, and exercise unfortunately was thrown completely out the window.

Often times I had to come to terms with the fact that sticking with 1,800 calories for the day was just not going to happen which meant that I was gaining weight each time that occurred.

Now with summer vacation behind me and a new school year beginning, my wonderful routine that I have actually missed is back on the table.

For those of you who have the pleasure of going to a “typical” job five days, forty hours per week, if you haven’t started already here’s an opportunity to develop a healthy living routine you can adhere to everyday. Not only is this a chance to eat in a much healthier manner but you can also motivate yourself to get some type of cardio workout in to help you shed even more weight.

Just yesterday I made it a point to go to the market after work and with my grocery list in hand I was able to stock my refrigerator with a whole assortment of healthy options. Later that night I quickly whipped together a roast with potatoes and carrots, tossed in the oven and 90 minutes later I was able to get 7 meal portions that I quickly packed away into plastic travel containers.

Now I have lunch meals to take with me to work for the entire week, but best yet that meal I cooked only cost about $14 total to make, yet with 7 meal sized portions that means I only paid $2 per meal. Where on earth would you be able to go out and eat for only $2 per plate? Healthier food for much less that you’d pay going out to eat fast food junk.

I also made it a point to purchase a 36 plastic water bottle package to keep stored in my closet at work so I will always have water at hand throughout the day. The perfect 0 calorie nourishing beverage.

These are just two examples of how work can potentially keep you focused on your health and nutrition if you make it a point to create a plan and stick with it. Think of it this way, you have to be at work for a certain number of hours anyways, why not let all those hours be healthy living ones as opposed to detrimental hours contributing to more and more weight gain?

Vitamins You Should Consider To Grow Your Hair Faster

Healthy hair growth is desired across the board and most people are ever in search of secrets on how to grow hair faster. Nutrition is the answer to the question that lingers but not many give a thought to it. Without proper nutrition, you cannot expect to have fast hair growth even if you apply oils and butter to it in the name of treating it.

Vitamins are some of the most important nutrients that the hair needs. They help the body metabolize food better, hence promoting proper nutrient absorption leading to a healthier you and of course healthier hair. There are vitamins that actually promote fast hair growth and since most of them are lost during cooking, you might as well consider supplements or products that contain the vitamins to cater to the needs. Besides having healthy hair, you will enjoy faster growth when you include the vitamins. They also nourish the hair making it stronger and minimizing damage and breakage.

Niacin – It falls in the B vitamin family and a lack of it can lead to pellagra. Without good amounts, your hair is prone to becoming brittle, making it easy to fall out. Niacin nourishes your scalp, thus promoting healthy hair growth.

Biotin – It has become a very popular hair supplement and falls into the B vitamin group as well. Even though it is found in most foods, its water soluble nature makes it easily lost and hence you might consider supplementing it for better and healthier hair. Products for hair growth that contain Biotin can be amazing if you are aiming for fast hair growth.

Vitamin D – This works by promoting growth of your hair follicles. You can easily get it from the sun or you can use products that have it as an ingredient or you can choose to take supplements as well.

Vitamin C – It is an antioxidant and works great for the immune system. Maintaining the right levels of this vitamin will definitely promote healthy hair growth. When everything is functioning right in your body, then the hair will also have an easy time growing and maintaining that healthy look. There are foods rich in Vitamin C but you can also choose high quality products rich in it.

B Vitamins – They have a variety of health benefits besides promoting faster hair growth and boosting the strength of the hair. To ensure that your hair is getting enough of it; choose conditioners and shampoos that are rich in it.

Vitamin E – It promotes a healthier scalp promoting healthy fast growths. You will also love how it improves the feel and look of your hair when you are getting enough supplies. It can be used together with other vitamins to encourage fast hair growth. You can choose shampoos that contain it to enjoy amazing results.

Vitamin A – It is an antioxidant that comes with added health benefits. Take foods rich in the vitamin for healthy bulkier hair and to get rid of skin problems and vision issues.

What You Should Know Before Starting A Diet Plan

Getting healthy and fit is important for more than losing those few extra pounds. For women, weight loss diet plan options seem to be everywhere. It can be difficult to choose. The truth is that many of them deprive your body of important nutrients. This means that you will only be left hungry, and this leads to binge eating and you quickly gain the weight back.

The most important quality for a weight loss plan is that it provides balanced nutrients. Diets that cut out major nutrient groups such as carbs, proteins, or other groups of nutrients will soon leave you feeling weak and tired because your body is not getting what it needs to sustain itself.

Exercise is an important element for women, weight loss plan developers all agree that this must be done in addition to any dietary changes. The only problem is that when you are dieting the wrong way, you will not have the energy to exercise. Forcing yourself only works for a short time. You have to feel energetic to keep it up.

Another consideration for diets that cut out one nutrient group is that this can have significant effects on your health. It can change your hormone levels, affect your blood pressure, and increase stress hormones. Proper nutrition that is packed with nutrients will have the opposite effect. The most important part of any diet is that you don’t put your body into starvation mode.

A balanced diet plan will work with your body, supplying it with the right nutrients at the right time. You will get to eat a variety of foods, while kicking your body’s calorie burning machine into high gear. A proper diet should contain something from every part of the food pyramid, with fruits and vegetables making up the biggest portion of the diet.

There is one exception to cutting out an entire group of nutrients from your diet, sugar. The body uses the glucose in sugar to provide fuel and energy, but most people get way too much of it. The extra energy gets stored as fat. Healthy foods provide more than enough sugar, without going overboard. When you are tired, it is common to crave sugary foods. This is your body’s way of telling you that it is low on fuel. You should feed it healthy foods, rather than heavily laden foods with sugar.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle takes time and effort. The first thing that you should do is research. Find out everything your body needs and healthy choices that contain these nutrients. You must prepare for changes and be committed wholeheartedly to making them a reality. You need to develop a plan for dealing with special holidays and going out to restaurants. Luckily, you now have more options than ever before in these areas too.

For women, weight loss plan options are now considering healthy options as the foundation of looking good and feeling better. When you feel better, you can enjoy life with enthusiasm, because you are the best that you can be.

Why You Need to Drink More Water

Adequate hydration is vital because your body is 60% water. A person’s water intake need varies by age, activity level such as exercise, weight, medical condition, and environment (hot or cold weather). Make sure you remain hydrated after you exercise, sweat excessively, if you have fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. According to the Institute of Medicines’ Food and Nutrition Boards’ recommendation, women ought to drink about 11 cups of water daily, and men about 15 cups. However, it is still advisable to drink at least 8 cups of water daily. So drink up! Not drinking enough water to meet your bodies’ requirement can lead to dehydration.

Reasons for drinking water

The main reasons you need to drink more water is because it helps your body:

• Maintain a normal body temperature
• Get rid of the body’s wastes products through sweat, urine, and bowel movements.
• Lubricate and cushion joints
• Digest food by assisting in the breaking down of food, and also in the transportation, and absorption of nutrients.

Sources of water

The good news is that your don’t have to drink only water in other to meet your total daily fluid requirement. The soup, tea, milk, juice, other liquids and all the fruits and vegetables you consume daily all count towards your total daily fluid intake. However, bear in mind that other fluid sources such as juice, ice tea, and soda can be high in calories and sugar. That is why water is the best source for hydration. You can drink your water plain or add some fruits to it to make your own flavored water. I do not recommend the use of commercial water enhancer. Making your own flavored water is very easy and healthy for you too.
Here is my favorite flavored water recipe.

Flavored water recipe

You can turn a plain glass of water into a delightful drink of flavored water in a second; it’s so unbelievably easy.

• First of all, cut the lemon in half. Cut a few slices of fresh lemon from one half and add it into a big glass or jug of water, and then squeeze in the juice of the other half.

• Cut an orange in half also and squeeze in the juice.

•Squeeze a handful of fresh mint then add it to the glass or jug of water

• Gently mash up a handful of strawberries then add it to the glass or jug of water and stir.

• Add a few slices of cucumber for some extra vitamins, color, and extra flavor.

• Finally add some ice. You can always add some water to adjust to taste if you like.

• Voila you’ve just made your own flavored water. Pour your self a glass and enjoy your refreshing, re-hydrating, and delicious home made flavored water.

Drinking your vegetables

Do you know that fruits and vegetables such as, cucumber, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, watermelon, oranges, grapefruit, and cantaloupe all contain more than 90% water? Including fruits and vegetables to your daily meal is a guaranteed way of increasing your fluid intake. Juicing vegetables have a lot of health benefits. It is also a great source of fluid intake, so if you are not juicing your vegetables yet, get on board.