Embrace the Silence

Sometimes life moves by so quickly, and we get so involved and busy with things, we don’t take a moment just to live in the moment, or even just sit in silence. Being present for quiet moments is extremely important to our overall well-being especially if your lifestyle and schedule is very active or hectic. Sometimes we think we are tired when we are just overstimulated. Taking a few moments to just let the mind be still, to just enjoy doing, or thinking about, absolutely nothing, is an incredibly healthy thing to do.

This was not a part of my life, ever, until very recently. My childhood was chaotic and loud, my twenties were a blur of work, school, and navigating adulthood, and my thirties and forties were packed with raising four children, homeschooling, community involvement, and a lot of work. As my children grew to young adulthood and started to go into their own journeys, I filled my life with throwing parties and events, returning to school, and lots of time in my gym. I found that I stayed as busy as ever, and because that had always been the norm, I just went with it. I was used to the house full of kids and friends, the dogs barking, the constant chatter, the packed calendar, and the endless conversations about the things my family was passionate about, and I made sure to fill my life with equal “noise” as I approached my fifties.  Silence was not a factor in my life, in fact, it was the exact opposite of my life. Silence made me uncomfortable and anxious, often made my brain go to less than happy places, and pretty much drove me mad. My brain was used to being overstimulated constantly, and I didn’t know what to do with silence.

I sat outside on my deck Sunday, on a way too dark and way too chilly for me October evening, and just sat. Alone. Quiet. I could hear the ocean waves crashing on the shore 4 blocks away, and nothing else. I looked at the stars, and realized, this is what “peace” feels like. I didn’t stop myself from enjoying it, didn’t immediately decide that I had better things to occupy my mind and remove myself, and didn’t feel anxious or uncomfortable. I didn’t reach for my phone or come inside to make myself dinner. I just SAT. In silence. And did nothing. And after a bit-a long bit-I went back into my life and realized-I am so REFRESHED.

When we decided to buy a place at the beach in 2019, I envisioned a place with constant family and friends visiting. There would be drinks on the patio and cornhole in the driveway. We set up guestrooms and bought tons of towels and sheets to host a huge crew and made sure everything was set up for relaxing and great times. I was ready for my calendar to be full and lots of beach fun and activity. But…2020 had different plans for us, and I soon found myself in isolation, alone in our vacation home, for “6 weeks”. I kept myself busy, painting the walls, then canvases, I journaled, I talked on the phone to old friends, I meditated, I started doing more yoga. I stayed REALLY busy. 6 weeks turned into several months, and while family carefully joined me from time to time, I was usually alone with just my dog. Projects were completed, courses were finished, and I started to spend more time just relaxing in the quiet on one of my decks. At first, the silence was too much. It made my mind wander to unpleasant thoughts from the past, thoughts I had neatly tucked away without emotion because I was, of course, just keeping too busy. As I began to study meditation, I learned how to sit with those thoughts, recognize them, and let them go. The silence became easier, it became my welcomed friend.

Sitting in silence is different than meditation. While meditation focuses on intention or focusing on breathing, sitting in silence is just as it is.

Sitting. In. Silence.

I sat today, also in silence, but deep in thought as to how these silent moments can benefit our life and bring a wholeness to our overall wellness.

Sitting with stillness gives you a moment to remove yourself from everything, and just view the world as it exists around you. It opens your mind to things we normally may not observe, or notice. It makes you feel that the vast greatness of the earth and connects you to a sense of being just you.

Being in silence rests your brain and your body. It will refresh you and bring clarity to your life. Our minds can get jumbled with the overstimulation from our daily lives; Silence allows for those thoughts to clear, and our mind starts fresh and anew.

Practicing moments of silence can help you tap into your wisdom. Thoughts, feelings, and ideas that don’t have time to develop in the constant busyness of our daily lives have time to make themselves known, and by recognizing these new ideas, we expand our minds.

For me, sitting in silence is a way to connect with my own self. To listen to my mind and body, and ONLY my mind and body. It is the ultimate in practicing self-care and self-love. In silence, we put ourselves first, completely and unselfishly. We honor our own silence, our own peace, and our own journey. In doing this, we inevitably are more able to honor everything around us with a clear, fresh mind.

I hope you will take a small amount of time to sit in silence this week. Sit under the stars, or cuddle in a blanket in front of a firepit, sit in nature, or simply turn off the tv, put down the phone, shut the door, and embrace a few minutes of silence. If you’re curious about more ways to find total wellness in your life, please check out my 24 page guide to wellness, 7 Days to Wellness. It’s completely free and packed with info and tips, trackers and guidance, to get you started on a wellness journey. If you’ve discovered that you truly want to focus on your total health and wellness goals, drop me a message and let’s chat about setting up the perfect personalized plan for you.

Take a Bite into Great Health with Apples!

For many of us, it’s fall, which means apple season! As I packed my pantry bag this week to travel to Monday Night Football in Baltimore (GO RAVENS!) I was sure to throw in a few apples. Apples are truly one of the healthiest and easiest foods to keep on hand-no matter where you are or what you are doing! We’ve all heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and there is some real science behind the saying!

No matter what type of apple you eat (there are over 7500 varieties, 2500 different types of apples are found in the US alone!!) you will get some excellent nutritional benefits along with a sweet, juicy, crunchy, treat. There are SO many different types of apples you could eat one a day for 20 years and never eat the same kind twice! Because they are so portable, and don’t require refrigeration or preparation, they are perfect for traveling and busy lifestyles.

As I did a little research on this popular fall fruit, I learned some interesting facts. Did you know????

~The apple is a member of the rose family

~it takes the energy of 50 leaves to produce one apple

~apples range in size from as small as a cherry to the size of a grapefruit

~the largest apple ever produced was over 3 pounds

~in Chinese culture the word for apple is “ping” which also stands for peace.

~the average apple has 10 seeds

~top producers of apples are China, US, Turkey, Poland, and Italy.

~Apples were planted by Pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

~apple juice is one of the most popular juices in the US

Apples are truly a nutritional marvel, with so many benefits for the body. Here’s just a few facts to get you thinking about grabbing an apple as you go about your awesome busy life!

Packed with nutrition!

The average apple is about 100 calories, and is full of great vitamins like C, K, A, E B1, B2, and B6. Eaten with the skin on, the apple gives us a great amount of fiber as well. Because apples are small, fresh, and portable, this makes it the perfect healthy snack!

Good for elimination and bowel health

One apple with its skin contains 4 to 5 grams of fiber – the most important nutrient in keeping your bowels working like clockwork. Fiber helps with constipation, and an ingredient found in apples called pectin has a congealing effect to also help with diarrhea. Pectin is considered a prebiotic, which means it feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are a healthy gut food.

Keep your body young.

Apples contain polyphenois, which has an antioxidant effect on the body. Antioxidants help protect our bodies from aging, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes. When scientists compared a 1,500-milligram vitamin C supplement to one small apple, the results were astounding – the antioxidant values were equal. That means a fresh apple has more than 15 times the antioxidant power of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. Apples also contain magnesium and potassium that help regulate your blood pressure and keep your heart beating steadily, and it’s the flavonoid quercetin, a naturally occurring antioxidant, that protects your artery walls from damage and keeps your blood flowing smoothly. Apples are also linked to better brain health and mental clarity.

Excellent For Weight Loss Efforts

Because apples are high in both fiber and water content, they are very filling. In studies, people that snacked on apple slices before meals ate fewer calories and felt fuller for longer periods of time!

Protects your Bones and Joints.

Eating fruit is a great way to maintain bone density and decrease the risk of arthritis. The high amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in apples promote bone health, and the trace mineral boron found in apples aids in joint health.

Be sure to buy apples that are unbruised, firm, and have good color. Take them out of their plastic bag and store them in your refrigerator – loose in the produce bin or in a paper bag is best. And since they will absorb odors, keep them away from strong-smelling foods like garlic and onions. If you have an opportunity to visit an orchard and go apple picking, I highly recommend doing so-there is nothing like the taste of an apple pulled directly from the tree!

For a special treat, try baking apples for a healthy and incredible smelling dessert or snack. Just core your apples and place them in a greased baking dish. Add a bit of apple cider or juice to the dish, and sprinkle the apples with maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, or apple pie spice. You can also fill the hole of the apples with oats, nuts, or raisins. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, checking with a fork for softness. Top with a dash of yogurt or vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

If you are looking for more easy superfood recipes, be sure to check out my 5 Ingredient Superfood Cookbook! It contains power food recipes for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, and snacks. Get yours free here!

I’d love to help you with your health and wellness journey! If you are interested in a 30 minute conversation about your goals, please reach out!

Traveling with Health and Wellness in Mind

Trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle when traveling can present many challenges. Hours spent sitting in the car, or on a plane, crazy schedules, staying in hotels, and finding lots of local treats when arriving at your destination can wreak havoc on every aspect of your wellness plan. It doesn’t have to be difficult though! Some careful planning and scheduling can remove most of these issues rather easily, and make your travels healthy, and even more enjoyable. 

In the spring of 2018, to celebrate the homeschool graduation of my youngest child, and a huge farewell to 22 years of the home education of four children, I planned what I called “The Ultimate Fieldtrip”. This trip involved a road trip through 9 southern states, with stays in 9 cities, over a period of 16 days, with my youngest son. My other young adult children each picked a city and were flown in to join us to add to the fun. It was long, it was exhausting, but it was AMAZING.

At the time, I was battling serious food intolerances that I later discovered were due to an unhealthy gut (you can read about that total health journey here). Most foods that I ingested led to fatigue, serious hives, rashes, and joint pain, so planning out my food for this massive trip was crucial. I was also accustomed to getting 12-15 thousand steps a day, and doing strength training and Pilates as well. My son, an athlete, was not used to sitting or missing workouts either, so the idea of sitting in the car for up to 10 hours at certain points of our trip was daunting. This led to an incredible amount of research, planning, and time scheduling in order to make this trip fun and healthy for everyone involved.

The most important part of staying focused on a healthy lifestyle and balanced wellness plan when traveling is PLANNING. I spent a little over 2 months planning for this awesome adventure, researching hotels, restaurants, activities, and even rest stops, in order to pull off a trip that was not only fun and active, but healthy and restful as well. So, I’d like to share some great tips for traveling while keeping your health and wellness goals in check, along with a few fun anecdotes from our fabulous field trip. 

Check Your Accommodations

Our travels had us staying in many hotels, so we decided to stick with one chain, become members on the app, and gather “points” for free nights as we went. The chain we chose offered a gym at every location. I thought we would get great use of this accommodation, but in the end, I think we only used one gym. Perfect weather welcomed us through the first 7stays, and all our activity was outdoors until that point. When we arrived in Nashville on day 13, the rain finally caught up to us, and I took advantage of the gym and treadmill to hit my steps, while my son used some free weights just to get some movement in after 5-hour drive from Memphis, (listening to Elvis the entire way.) Although most of our activity was easily done outdoors during our trip, it was nice to know that we had a plan B for getting our movement in.

Most hotels, and even motels, now offer some sort of gym area to their guests, even if it’s just a treadmill or two, and some free weights. One of our hotels offered an entrance to an outdoor fitness trail that was really nice. If your hotel does not offer a fitness area, check with their front desk about possible local gyms that offer nonmembers a travel pass. Or consider keeping a set of light weights or a yoga mat in your car for quick and easy workouts in your room. Yoga is a great way to stretch, release, and relax while traveling.

I hit my steps every single day of our trip, and even hit triple several times just from all the local walking and sightseeing we did. Because our weather was so fantastic (the deep south in March-a wonderful time of year!) we chose to walk everywhere and averaged easily 9-10 miles a day.

Plan Ahead for Restaurants

Planning for meals was an absolute necessity for me. As I stated, I was experiencing serious reactions to food intolerances at this point of my life, and my reactions left me feeling horrible. I needed to do everything I could to avoid having a reaction that might leave me with brain fog, joint pain, hives, or exhaustion in order to make this trip a success. I use an app called Roadtrippers and added my researched restaurant choices into my notes. I spent hours looking at popular restaurants in each city we planned to travel, and making notes about what would be safe, and well as healthy and tasty, for me to order. Having a game plan with several choices made deciding our meals so much easier. Even after I found the cure and solution to my food intolerances, I still travel with my researched restaurants in a notepad, and healthy meals picked out in advance. It takes so much stress out of our travels and ensures that we eat balanced and delicious meals no matter where we travel. If you’d like more great tips on dining out, check this article out!

Stick to Regular Meal Schedule

I have found that many people go completely off schedule when they vacation or travel, and they end up paying for it either ON their trip, or soon after.

It’s important to stay as close to your regular schedule as possible when traveling. Try to keep your mealtimes as normal as possible to avoid becoming famished, or, on the opposite end, indulging too much. Sticking with small balanced meals throughout the day will keep your energy up, and your hunger down.  If you are unable to stick to a normal schedule of meals, be sure to keep healthy snacks on hand for a quick nutrient boost and to keep your stomach feeling comfortable.

Our snack stash travelled in a mesh grocery store box from hotel to hotel and kept us feeling great on the super long stretches of driving between cities. We kept protein bars, fresh fruit, nuts, and nut butter and crackers stocked, and always had a cooler full of ice and waters ready in our back seat.

Stick to Regular Sleep Schedules

It’s also important to try to stick with your regular sleep schedule when traveling as well. Try to go to bed at your regular bedtime, and wake as you normally do to stay on a healthy schedule and avoid feeling tired, or even exhausted. This will help keep your energy level up and keep the rest of your schedule in check.

This was one of the hardest things for us to do on our travels. We found ourselves driving late into the night on several occasions and sleeping in to make up for it too often. After celebrating my birthday in New Orleans and staying up WAY too late several nights in a row, I was absolutely exhausted on our ride into Texas, and ended up sleeping for half a day in Austin. It’s important to have all the fun and enjoy all that your trip has to offer but try to be mindful of not overdoing it and finding yourself too tired to enjoy parts of your travels.

Look for Parks and Recreational Activities

It’s always great to take a break from traditional sightseeing or visitor areas and visit a park or recreation area. Seeing alligators in their natural habitat while outside of Mobile and wandering the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico after a long morning drive was a wonderful break from driving, hotels, and being in crowds of tourists. Check the areas around the towns on your itinerary to see what might be available for a change of pace, or even a new adventure. Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and zip lining are offered across the US, and can add both exercise and fun to your trip.

Crazy enough, our trip, which started out as a journey to meet friends we had known online forever, turned into a quest to see as many stadiums as possible. Each city we visited dropped an extra 15000 steps a day on my Fitbit just because we ventured out to find the local NFL and college stadiums. (My son’s IG was full of “peeks” into stadiums from under fences and up on walls!) 

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated on long trips is so important for overall health. Dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, constipation, dizziness, and more. Travel brings about a bit of a challenge when it comes to staying hydrated-especially if you are traveling long distances in a vehicle. While my cooler of iced waters easily kept me well hydrated, the constant bathroom breaks became a bit crazy. Early on in our trip, my son looked at me and asked if I was “OK”, after I told him we needed to stop AGAIN.

I soon realized that I was actually drinking way more than I needed to, considering we were sitting in the car for entire stretches of the day, so I cut back a bit. We did, however, decide that our best plan of action on those “long haul” driving days was to plan stops every 2 or so hours based on the availability. (If you’ve ever driven a stretch like Atlanta to Mobile, or across the entire state of Arkansas, you might understand how hard regular stops can be!) This gave us a chance to jog out some steps, do some stretching, drop some Instagram, and use the facilities.

It’s not hard to get the recommended amount of water in while traveling if you just plan it out. A glass of water upon rising, a glass with each meal, a glass about an hour before bed, and 2 glasses during the day-perhaps before and after a brisk walk or some other planned exercise will do it.  

Stock the Hotel with Healthy Snacks or Meals and Use a Cooler in the Car

Whether your trip is long and involved, or short and sweet, it never hurts to keep your hotel room and car stocked with some healthy choices for meals and snacks. For the first part of our trip, I actually had homecooked meals prepped and ready in a cooler in the car. Small containers of steamed veggies, baked chicken, and homemade soup found their way to the first 3-4 hotels that we stayed in and made easy and healthy snacks and meals when heated up in our room microwave. These small, prepped meals along with fresh fruit, instant oatmeal packets, and bags of sliced veggies, made eating healthy super easy on the road. Other ideas for healthy travel snacks are individually wrapped cheeses, small packs of nuts, grapes, berries, yogurts, rice cakes, crackers, pretzels, kale chips, dried fruit, jerky, and trail mix.

Taking healthy foods along for the ride not only keeps you from fast food temptation but can save you a lot of money otherwise spent on less healthy choices from hotel pantries, vending machines, and convenience stores.

While traveling, be sure to check out local markets or bodegas for local foods and treats to restock your stash and give you a chance to try local favorites.

Evaluate and Plan for Indulging in Alcohol

For many, traveling and vacationing often includes indulging in fun spirits; local brews, regional wines, and frozen specialties can be fun and tasty, but, if overdone, can result in a whole set of negative issues-including not feeling well. I learned this twice on my excursion; once in New Orleans, and again during 3 days of rain in Nashville when a friendly bartender introduced me to a super yummy lemonade flavored vodka that did not taste like alcohol. (UGH! Hard lesson!)

If you plan to indulge, be sure to plan accordingly. Make sure you eat before drinking and match each drink with a glass of water. Too much alcohol will leave you feeling drained and tired, and unable to enjoy all the activities and fun you plan. And of course, never drink and drive. 

Focus on the 80/20 Rule, Try Local Treats in Moderation

Traveling gives us the wonderful opportunity for trying different foods and treats from all over. Because “everything in moderation” is a key belief to this wellness coach, I encourage you to try as many new things as possible, while not over-indulging. Try following the 80/20 plan for a maximum taste experience while still sticking to a healthy plan of eating. To do this, plan to eat 80 percent healthy, and 20 percent “local yum”.

For me, traveling the south, this was a whole lot about BBQ! Every section of the south has a completely different version of BBQ, and it was my quest to try them all and find the best. BBQ is usually served with all kinds of decadent sides and sauces that can increase your intake of calories, fat and sugar quickly, so I had to be mindful. I soon realized that the key was to order healthy sides with my meal, and then just grab “tastes” of my son’s sides. A small bite of cornbread, a forkful of baked beans from his tray, and then focus on my cucumber salads and coleslaw to top off my many, many styles of BBQ. I also took half of my BBQ to go when able, and my son later ate it as a snack.

We tried the local favorites in each city and town, but usually, it was me simply having a “taste”, which worked out really well. I managed to stick to my healthy eating, while indulging in small, incredible, local favorites.

Focus on Mental Health

Traveling can be exhausting. Long drives, different hotel beds, waiting for flights, dealing with weather, crowds, traffic, and time zones can all be a bit daunting. Sticking to a wellness plan is very do-able and can leave you feeling healthy and even rested and recharged at the end of your trip. When planning for your travels, be sure to focus on your mental health. Getting quality nutrition, regular exercise, and sleep are key, but be sure to put some thought into your mental well-being as well. Find time for rest and relaxation, perhaps a little pampering, and check in with your stress and energy levels each day. If you find yourself getting a bit out of balance, consider a little meditation to calm your nerves and clear your mind.

I hope that the coming months give you an opportunity to do a little traveling and exploring, all while keeping your wellness goals in check. If you’d like to discuss your health and wellness goals and find a plan of action that works with your life, drop me an Email-I’d LOVE to chat with you!

Find Endless Energy in Your Life!

This year(s) have been pretty exhausting. I hear it daily-people are so tired, and everyone seems to be looking for a boost of energy that doesn’t involve MORE coffee or energy drinks. Because of this, I decided to spend some time putting together a little guide on Canva (love Canva!) with all of my best tips and information on increasing energy levels while also changing the mindset for an all around boost of positive energy.

Included in this free to download ebook: wellness tips for all around health and happiness, food and supplements for more energy, tips on organizing your routine for optimal health, and daily trackers with affirmations to get you started on the right path.

If you’ve been dragging a bit, reaching for too much caffeine, or just not feeling like you have enough energy to do ALL of the fabulous things you want to do, this guide can help get you on track and feeling ready to create, enjoy, and live the life you deserve and desire-and you DO deserve it!!!

You can find the guide here (this is my main business website). I hope you enjoy it-and maybe take some time to look around while you are there-there’s lots of other freebies to find!

Bee Well,

Sami Bee

Healthy Choices When Dining Out

For many, life is beginning to look a bit more “normal” after too many months of 2020, and that may mean more dining out with family and friends. One of the biggest questions I hear from my friends and clients these days is how to navigate a fun meal out without overdoing it or falling completely off of their health goals. As we move into cooler months, with less cookouts and BBQ’s, and more opportunities to dine out, I thought this might be a great topic to address.

Who doesn’t love dining out? Having someone wait on you, cook for you, and the chance to order dishes you might never prepare at home! Being able to relax and just enjoy good food and company without the worry of shopping, cooking, or cleaning up-so much fun! But for many that are trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle, dining out can bring many challenges. Portion sizes are usually massive, ingredients tend to be super rich, and we truly have no way of knowing exactly what, and how much, we are consuming.

The first thing to remember when dining out is to focus on enjoying your food and company without over-indulging. Pay more attention to your companions and savoring every bite, and you will find yourself more relaxed, and more mindful of what you eat. Dining out should be more about experiencing all of your senses-the different tastes, the aromas, the music, the lighting, and the mood-and less about filling your stomach. Relax, discuss the foods, try bites of different foods, and be fully aware of everything around you.

Plan Ahead

Fortunately, most restaurants offer their menus for online viewing and ordering. Take advantage of this by looking at it the menu ahead of time and coming up with a game plan for how you will order and eat. This can remove the stress of trying to come up with the perfect plan while others are talking or discussing what they might order.  Have a back up plan as well, just in case a menu item has sold out or isn’t available. Plan your meal based on a healthy protein source, veggies or salad, or even a healthy soup to begin your meal. Avoid the breadbasket, and ask to have your soup or salad brought before the entrée.

Don’t Starve Yourself!

Heading into a restaurant with an empty stomach and uncontrollable hunger is NOT a good idea! I’ve known many people that decided to not eat all day so that they could indulge at a dinner out, and it never goes very well. Plan to eat small, balanced meals throughout the day to avoid a situation in which you are hungry, cranky, and not thinking clearly. This can lead to overeating, and even binge eating.

Avoid “Bad” Words!

When deciding on your meal of choice, try to avoid the “bad” words. These words include “deep fried”, “rich”, “buttery”, “creamy”, and “battered”, just to name few. Instead, look for words like “fresh”, “farm grown”, and “lean”. Knowing the proper language can make choosing a meal so much easier.

Balance Your Plate

Be sure that your plate includes many colors, and a variety of nutrients. Base your meal on a healthy protein, and fill the remainder of your plate by ordering fresh veggies and a healthy grain like a rice dish, sweet potato, or baked potato. Ask for toppings, dressings, sauces, and condiments to be on the side so that you can control how much is on your food. *Did you know? Many restaurants use over 3 tablespoons of butter when serving a baked potato???? That’s 300 calories and 36 grams of fat in just a topping!!!!

Consider ½ To Go

This is one of my favorite tips for eating out! I’ve done this many times, and I’ve also had many times that I wished I had done so!

Ask for half of your meal to be placed in a carry out container before it even comes to the table. Portions are SO huge, and most can easily be divided into more than one meal-take half for lunch the next day! This allows you to focus on conversation and company, without the sudden realization that “Oh, NO, I ate ALL of it!” I have found myself in this situation-stuffed uncomfortably, barely realizing I was eating, and not feeling great after-even into the next day. I LOVE having leftovers for lunch the next day-and leaving dinner without feeling stuffed.

Share Treats

Because dining out is an experience that is to be enjoyed, be sure to indulge in small amounts of yumminess! Have a small taste of the appetizers, try a side portion of a new item on the menu, and yes-grab a fork and share the dessert! Everything is allowed in MODERATION!! Taste, enjoy, roll your eyes back in your head and say, “Ohmygosh, that is SO good!” But do it in moderation!!!

Make the Toast

Alcohol is a HUGE conversation with clients these days-absolutely HUGE. Due to that, I have done a great deal of research on the subject, and come up with a list of “healthier” drinks to avoid high calorie and high sugar intake. Sugar content in many alcohol beverages is super high, and I have found that for many that focus on healthy eating, the sugar hangover can be worse than the average alcohol hangover-even in small amounts of indulging. To avoid this, focus on spirits with low sugar content like tequila, vodka, and gin, and be sure your mixer of choice is not full of sugar as well. Avoid simple syrups and pre-made mixers, and focus on fresh juices or sugar free sodas. Keep in mind-alcohol slows your metabolism, and processes in the body AS a sugar.

Most importantly-stay hydrated! For each alcohol-based beverage, have a glass of water. You will thank me in the morning!

Be Mindful and Enjoy

Dining out is a fun activity that should be enjoyed completely and fully. Keep this in mind, plan and order carefully, and relax and enjoy! I truly believe that while our nutritional intake should be a clean as possible much of the time, food can also be an adventure of tastes that should be relished. Keeping the adage “everything in moderation” completely applies here. Be mindful of your meal and your company, embrace all that comes with it, and enjoy without overdoing.

If you’d like more info about finding your perfect, personalized health plan or reaching your goals, I’d love to help you on your journey! Let’s talk!

Also, make sure to download a free copy of my e-book, The BeeWell Guide to Clean Eating to get you started!

What’s Your Why??

One thing I’ve noticed when talking to people about their health goals is that their goals are usually based on an experience. Either something happened that made them realize they need to make a change, or something IS going to happen that makes them think about change. These are two completely different experiences, one often comes out of fear or discomfort, and the other comes from anticipation and sometimes excitement. Both require lifestyle change, motivation, and a plan, but more importantly, they require a WHY that is often a part of a much bigger picture. My first goal when speaking to them is finding that WHY.

The first experience, the one that comes from discomfort or fear, can come from things as trivial as not fitting into clothes, seeing numbers on a scale, or realizing that stress is keeping them awake at night. These are all things that cause a sense of discomfort in our lives.  The “fear” based experience often comes from a health scare; bad medical results, illness, or having a medical professional tell you that changes need to be made often set off fear to make changes. These changes need to be permanent and lifelong.

The second experience is one of anticipation and usually excitement. This experience is about something that will be happening in our future-a wedding, a vacation, a reunion. We want to look and feel our best for this occasion, and we use that to spark our motivation and inspiration. Usually, this type of change is short term and short lived.

No matter what your health and wellness goals might be, it’s important to go beyond the fear, discomfort, or anticipation, and find the deepest reasons of WHY. These reasons will be the foundation to finding lasting success!

In my early years of working within the weight loss industry, I had many clients that came from both sides of the “ experience motivated” spectrum. High blood pressure, or borderline diabetic clients would come to me at their doctors orders and begrudgingly follow my food and exercise plans until their numbers improved, but often, when they impressed their doctor, they never came back to continue the focus on their health-until they were told to, which happened a lot.

On the other side of that, was the many bride to be’s, the “high school reunion is coming up”, and the “going on vacation and want to wear…” crowd. These people had a specific date in mind that they felt they could stay focused on, and they were usually really successful. But, most of this was short term as well. The claims of “I love working out now”, and “I can’t believe I feel this good!” seemed to vanish after the event they looked forward to, and their old lifestyle became new lifestyle quickly.

I once had a bride hide from me in a mall. She had dropped 60 pounds in 4 months for her wedding, had made the gym the center of her day, and constantly prided herself on her completely surprising lifestyle change that would definitely be everlasting.  After she invited me to her beautiful wedding, I never heard from her again, until she spotted me and ran from me at the local mall. I let it go, of course, but before I left the mall that day, she approached me, spoke of “letting it all go”, and promised to set up an appointment to get back on track soon. “I never felt or looked so good in my entire life…” were the last words she said to me. Her WHY was about her wedding day, and it didn’t carry her beyond that day.

We are all just mere humans, and change is hard. Change requires plans, motivation, support, inspiration, and very deep-rooted WHY’s.  These WHY’s are bigger than a positive health report, positive feedback from our doctor, a number on a scale, or a size on an outfit we want to wear for a special occasion. Those factors can motivate us short term, but the FOUNDATION of deep WHY’s keeps us moving forward, keeps our focus sharper, and keeps us inspired for the absolute duration of life.

So, you ask, what are these WHY’s, and how do I get them into my life so that I can make the permanent lifestyle changes I desire???

These deep WHY’s are based on our life and surrounding as we live it, day-to-day, year-to-year. I find that for many, it’s their family that inspires their ultimate WHY. Realizing that they want to be able to be “there” for the people they love, to be present and active in the lives of everyone around them. To have the energy to run and play with children or grandchildren, to spend family time having adventures or being very active, instead of being a spectator. For some, it’s the sudden concern of illness or poor health taking them from the family that needs them, that becomes the focus. For others, it’s about reaching and keeping peak performance for the activities that they enjoy in life, even as they get older. Some find that their why is in the reflection of the lives of older family member that suffered illness, and a desire to change that pattern. WHY’s vary, and are deeply personal, but they give a solid, lasting, foundation to hold us up even on our least inspired days, week after week, year after year.

For me, currently, I find my WHY being about being at my healthiest so that I can enjoy all of the activities and adventures that await me on my island. After decades of raising a family and always putting their activities and lives first, I want to be sure that I am healthy and strong to be able to focus on MY activities and life: kayaking, hiking, yoga, and lots of time spent with family and friends.

When thinking about your WHY, consider a few questions:

When you look into your future, how do you want to be living your life? What do you see being the most important aspects of that life? Who will be sharing that life with you? And, how do you want to be present in that life? Seeing yourself happy, healthy and vibrant in the future will lead you to your WHY. That is where you will find the ultimate foundation to motivate you to your goals.

Setting goals for your health and wellness involves many aspects of life. When planning your goals, be sure to consider ALL of those aspects, because they all interact and work together holistically. Here is a list of the 8 factors in the wheel of wellness, some with links to blog posts for a more in depth look.

Nutrition

Movement

Emotional

Hobbies

Intellectual

Relationships

Spiritual

Sleep

As always, if you’d like guidance, knowledge, and motivation in putting together and implementing your personal health and wellness plan and goals, I’d love to talk to you! Feel free to contact me! If you’re curious as to what, exactly, a health and wellness coach DOES, read here!

visit my business site Beewell.com

The Third Chapter-Time for YOU!

The “third chapter” is something I speak about often in my health and wellness practice, and that is inspired by MY journey into my own new chapter in life. People generally question the phrase, but upon learning the meaning, are often left feeling enlightened and refreshed. So, today, I’m going to explain the “third chapter” in much detail, in effort to get you thinking about where YOUR life is headed!

In my mind, and in my practice, the third chapter is a chapter of life that is focused on YOU. Chapter one was our childhood and formative years of growing and schooling, and starting our path in life. Chapter two, for many, is the years we spend focused on others, whether it be family, marriage, career, relationships, community, or other outside forces that require our time, effort, and focus. Chapter 3…well, Chapter 3 begins that moment we realize that “self” deserves the same amount of time, energy, effort, and focus that we have given to others-it’s time for “ME”.

This can happen at different times for different people, of course. For some, it may be when they become empty nesters, for others, it may be when they shift from being an employee to a business owner, or even retirement. It may happen after a divorce, or when you send you children to full time school or college, or it may simply happen when you have a the deep realization that you have to reclaim “who you are”. Our time is often filled with schedules, calendars, projects, and people that need or demand our full attention, and after years, even decades of this, realizing that YOU deserve and need to give that same attention to YOU, is a changing moment.

For me, it happened in early 2020. While the world around me became quiet in pandemic, I “locked” myself down at our beach vacation home for what I believed would be a few weeks. After a few weeks of binging all the TV I’d missed in the 25 years of raising 4 kids, I turned off the TV and allowed myself to sit in silence. I walked the waterways, sat on my porch and listened to the waves, and realized-I had not had a silent mind in decades. I spent my childhood in chaos and dysfunction, my 20’s healing from the result of that-while pursuing college, work, and adulthood. My 30’s were spent becoming a mom, dealing with a failed marriage, and endless homeschooling, activities, and all that goes with raising children. I entered my 40’s as a single mom, working, educating my soon to be teenagers, literally waking up each day to check off a long list of to do’s before falling into bed, exhausted at 3am. A decade of my life flew by in a flurry of football games, soccer practices, laundry, meal planning, and even completing a degree and remarrying, and then, one by one, I graduated my children from a lifetime of home education.

Friends congratulated me as I posted pictures of each child, in purple cap and gown, smiling in my front yard as I handed them their diploma, and then proclaimed, “This has been your life!! What WILL you do now???”

At first, I was unsure. I traveled the country a bit, calling it the “ultimate fieldtrip” as I invited my now adult children to Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, and Atlanta. My youngest son and I road tripped to games and stadiums all over, as I visited places and people from my past. I went back to school and became a certified health and wellness coach, I started a business, I helped make the dream of owning a beach house a reality, and I relaxed-or so I thought.

It was in that beach house, in April of 2020, that having a quiet mind for perhaps the first time EVER, led me to realize-this is MY time. The question was, what would I do for MYSELF?

As a certified coach, with a degree in nutrition and wellness, I knew that very first thing I needed to do was make sure I was as healthy as possible-that, after all, is the foundation for a happy and healthy life! I had suffered from terrible symptoms of leaky gut that had left me undiagnosed and ill for several years. I also had spent some time self-medicating myself with crappy food and wine as lockdowns took over the country, and it had me feeling and looking not so great. I set out to get my health in check, clean up my diet (again!), and cure, finally, my gut issues. Within a few weeks, I felt like a new person! My energy was high, my skin was clear, and I’d dropped some extra pounds. I was walking miles and miles each day, began doing yoga and Pilates, and set new Fitbit goals.

As my energy grew, and my head became clearer, I started to think about things I could do to keep myself occupied, on my island, during pandemic, mostly alone. Within a few weeks, I had rediscovered journaling, reading books that were not texts(!), and even filled my house with art supplies-a talent and hobby I had left long forgotten in my youth. My days belonged to ME; my schedule was MINE, for the first time in a very long time. I was finally taking care of ME. I did the things that were important to me, the things that brought me joy, and the things I had abandoned to take care of everyone else. It was a period of incredible growth, and incredible peace. As family started to join me more often at the beach, they found a new person awaited them; A person who was full of energy, completely at peace, very calm, and very active and engaged in life. I was able to focus more on them and be completely in the moment, because I had grounded myself, made myself important, and had so much more focus, energy and clarity. This, THIS, was the beginning of my chapter three!

As I began to talk to friends, clients, and online followers about this “new chapter” theory, I heard so many stories about the things other’s had “lost” or “forgotten” as they navigated the second chapter of their lives. People had stopped reading for fun, they had given up hobbies, dropped sports and activities, even lost connections with friends because they were just SO busy with all of the responsibilities and schedules in their lives. Many asked, “Where do I start?”

To that, I respond-you have to quiet the mind for just a bit, and listen to your self. I often suggest meditating, or even journaling, to those that enjoy writing, or even making lists of things that they use to enjoy, things they loved to do, things they took part in, but had now gathered dust. One friend journaled a bit and realized that she needed to make a huge move in her life. Another journaled and soon decided to switch careers, giving her more time for activities she wanted to do. One client proclaimed loudly in our third session, “You know what????? Talking care of myself is NOT selfish!!! I know that now!” She planned a personal weekend “recharging” getaway for her self to gain clarity on the idea. Some found the answer in a new exercise program. Several contacted me for advice and guidance on cleaning up their diets to gain more energy. All of them found something new (or forgotten) to bringing them almost instant joy.

This third chapter is not selfish, it is not removing yourself from those that need you-it is simply about making YOUR SELF as important. You deserve to give your self the same love and attention that you’ve been giving everyone, and everything, else. And when you do that-you will also find that your calmer mind, and higher energy levels allow you to be there-not only for your self, but for others.

My third chapter is just beginning. After years of lugging snacks to kids sporting events, and cheering them on from the stands, I am now the athlete on the bike trails, on my kayak on the Intracoastal Waterways, and doing yoga on my back deck. Instead of dropping kids at practices and art classes, it’s ME signed up for Pilates class, and the art supplies are mine! (And very organized, I might add!) I have reclaimed my life, and the joy I have found is simply spreading to everyone around me. The calm and peace I have discovered has enveloped my entire family, and expanded to many of my friends. And, I have taken that joy, that clarity, and all of my education and skills, and placed them into a business that, hopefully, will inspire other to do the same.

If you are inspired to explore your “third chapter”, I’d love to talk to you! Whether it’s getting your health in order, cleaning up your diet, reducing the stress, or finding clarity as to “what’s next”, I’m excited to speak with you!

If you are curious about journaling to find out more about yourself: your dreams, finding clarity, rediscovering “you”, and building healthy life changing habits, Please drop me an email to get updated on my new journal program being released soon! As always-I do not use emails for spam-I only send a few each year when something really awesome is happening!

Healthy Meal Prep for the Busy Family

Everyone has seen all those pretty Pinterest and Instagram posts with the little containers of perfectly prepped and planned meals. This leads to the question-How can I possible do this with a family to feed??

It’s not as hard as it seems! With a few little tips, a clear grocery list, some input from your family, and an afternoon of cooking, you can have a week’s worth of healthy meals that will not only save time, but keep everyone’s bellies full-while sticking to a healthy food plan-and perhaps even saving some money and frustration at the same time.

Everyday I have people tell me that they cannot meal prep for a myriad of reasons:

-kids are picky eaters

-spouse refuses to eat “rabbit food”

-everyone in the household has different eating styles-allergies, vegetarian, gluten free, etc.

-it’s too expensive

-it’s too time consuming

With a little planning, ALL of these situations can be handled, and you will not only save time, but money.

In my home, meal prep solved ALL of those problems AND also solved the teenager issue of “There’s nothing to eat!” My family has consisted of a spouse that eats anything, a daughter that swings between vegan/vegetarian, a teen linebacker that needs food nonstop, a teen son with weight issues, and a person who experienced a million sensitivities who also eats extremely healthy (yes, that would be me, pre healing my gut-those issues are now completely gone! You can read about THAT here!). Meal prep has been an absolute blessing to me-the shopper, the cook, the mom.

To be straight up-you don’t need to prep your food in those pretty containers. You can, it looks nice in photos and stacked in the fridge, but it’s not necessary. It can be helpful for packing meals that need to be on the move, like lunch, or for the person in your family with specific food needs, but I tend to use regular large size Rubbermaid containers for prep. These can even be frozen for future use, and are microwave/dishwasher safe as well. I’ve also used Ziploc freezer bags, which work so well with small spaces in the fridge.

Make a Plan and Think Streamlining Your Proteins

The first thing you need to do is plan your meals. Ask your family for input if needed. List your favorite meals, take eating preferences into consideration, and make a menu with at least 4 main dinner meals. Look for ways to streamline your meals based on main ingredients; are there two or more meals with chicken? Beef? How can you prepare those meats for use in all your recipes? Is there a way to make or divide certain meals into half vegetarian? Half gluten free? Can you prepare some of a meal without onion, or peppers, or heavy spices that your children may not like? If you approach it this way-you will likely find that it’s not so hard to satisfy everyone in your family. For example, if you’re planning an Italian dish, can you make a small portion without meat sauce? Can you make a small portion with gluten free noodles? If your favorite dish is heavy on spice and onion,  you can separate a portion without those strong flavors. These portions are easily placed into their own small containers.

Check Your Schedule Plan your Shopping

Next, look at your schedule for the week. Are you home every night for dinner? Do you plan to eat out? Are there nights that you need to grab something and run? Make note of those occasions.

Using your meals as a guideline, start to plan your grocery list. To make things super easy, double some of your recipes for lunch leftovers, or for the freezer. List the produce and proteins you will need in total for all meals so that you can easily buy in bulk portions. Check your add-ons like spices, canned needs, cheese, etc; before doing your shopping.

Once you have your grocery list in hand, check local sales, and gather coupons if you are a frugal shopper-you can also save by shopping in bulk at places like Costco and Sam’s Club.

Plan Your Cooking

I highly recommend shopping and cooking on separate days, just to give your self a sanity break. Or, plan to cook 2 or 3 times a week, but cook more than one meal-again, using the same “main” item, like your protein, makes this mush easier! For example, using chicken bought for three meals, using one portion as a main dish, another portion for a chicken and rice dish, and another portion for chicken tacos or fajitas. The chicken is prepared at the same time, and you will have 3 dinners ready to go-and maybe even some leftovers for lunches!

Meal prep day was often an afternoon of family time when my kids were teens. They would help, learning to cook as we went along. One teen would chop veggies, another would cook up ground turkey or beef, while another stirred sauces and checked the oven. We could usually prep a week’s worth of lunches and dinners in an hour and a half. It was an absolute blessing to come home after a busy day and literally be able to list off menu items available to reheat from the fridge!

It’s been a few years since the teens became adults and moved on with their lives, but all of them still prep meals in advance. Even when I am alone at the beach, I cook once or twice a week for myself and enjoy having a very active lifestyle without concern about stopping to plan and fix my meals, or run the stove on a super hot summer day. Below is my all time healthy meal prepped favorite recipe for you to try and enjoy!

Meal planning and prep is a HUGELY popular topic with many of my clients and friends, and one of my favorite healthy lifestyle hacks to teach. If you’d like to learn more, or get some ideas and assistance in starting your journey with this great time saving healthy life hack, just reach out to me!

Meal Prepped Super Healthy, Super Yummy Chicken, Rice, and Veggies

This is SO easy and SO tasty! I keep it in my fridge year round for quick meals.

You will need:

Chicken breasts, cooked, and chopped into bite sized pieces.

Rice of your choice, I use brown rice in the cups that heat up in the microwave.

Steamed veggies of your choice-cook until blanched if storing them in the fridge.

Favorite sauce-I use a natural sweet and sour, but soy, hot sauce, all add a different flavor to this dish and can be used to mix it up.

I keep these things handy, and literally throw it all together, heat for a minute of two, add my sauce and salt and pepper-and I have a hot, incredible tasty and healthy meal ready in under two minutes!

from my professional website Beewell.com

Meditation for Real People

I recently wrote about getting a good, quality, night’s sleep, and in that article, I mentioned meditation (something that helped me-the chronic, lifelong, insomniac) get some rest. I realized, shortly after posting the article, that the word “meditation” often gets a weird response. Some people envision dancing hippies, or cultist beings, while others just laugh in confusion and discomfort. So, today, in deep respect to the idea and concept of meditation, I’d like provide a little education and info!

Meditation has been a part of my life for a very long time. It took me a very long time to realize that, when it is a regular part of my routine, my life seems calmer and easier to navigate. When I get away from it for long periods of time, I inevitably come back to it after finding myself stressed, exhausted, and very ungrounded. Life gets chaotic, and for me, having 4 teenagers in the house, homeschooling them through graduation, and being very active in their activities and sports should have been a perfect time to practice lots of meditation-but I abandoned it in the crazy schedules! After the last child graduated, and I ventured to the beach for early pandemic, I found my routine again, and it was life changing. It is now a daily routine for me, if only for 10 or 15 minutes.

My youngest, now 20, called me inquiring about meditation a few months back, something I found to be quite fascinating because it’s so not “him”. He was having trouble turning his mind off and getting a decent amount of sleep, and had tried many of my suggestions with little relief. I had suggested meditation several times, but it was his number 1 quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who put it into his head. Rodgers spoke about discovering yoga and meditation during an interview, explaining why meditation has become an important part of his daily routine: “Finding time, without the TV on or the phone, to sit in silence is healing”, he said. “To be able to quiet your mind and have intentions and focus on the things that are important to you and kind of drown everything away. We live in a world where we’re just constantly being distracted and we need stimulation.” This spoke to my son, and he began a journey of meditation to quiet his mind, and ultimately, better sleep and a clearer head. (Thank you, Aaron!)

Basic meditation is simply about finding stillness, quieting the mind, and calming the body-and who doesn’t need a little of that in our lives?

There are so many science-based benefits of meditation! Literally, many of the daily anxieties, mood swings, stressors, and aches and pains most people experience can be lessened or removed by a short daily practice of meditation.

Benefits include:

*Focus and redirection of thoughts

*Generates a positive mood

*Helps with habit building

*Develops discipline

*Helps with pain tolerance

*Promotes stress relief

*Controls anxiety and feelings of anger or fear

*Promotes emotional health

*Enhances self awareness

*Lengthens attention span

*May reduce age related memory loss

*Generates feelings of kindness

*Improves the quality of sleep

*Decreases blood pressure

As you can see, the benefits of meditation are varied and amazing! I have experienced just about every benefit on this list, and more. It is a practice that is easy to learn, requires very little to get started, and has immediate impact on your wellbeing.

So-if you’re ready to get started on a simple habit that will change your life quickly, I’m ready to teach you how-all you need to do is find at least 10 minutes in your daily life to follow through. Perhaps it will be when you wake, or during a work break, or even right before bedtime-but PLANNING to do it and following through is the only small obstacle keeping you from reaping ALL the benefits that await you! You can do this just about anywhere-sitting on your porch, visiting your favorite place in nature, while bathing, or simply just by putting down your phone, turning off the noise, and enjoying some peace in your day.

How to Meditate

~Setup your space and check your surroundings. Your meditation space should be quiet and peaceful, and remain that way for at least 10 minutes. Close doors, turn off your phone, and plan to be in a quiet space for the time allotted.

~Wear comfortable clothes, or loosen any clothing that may be restrictive or tight. You may want to remove your shoes, belts, hats, etc. Be as comfortable as possible.

~Relax, sit comfortably with your feet on the floor, or find a comfortable position where your legs are relaxed and at ease, or even lie down if you like.

~Breathe deeply to relax, focus on your each individual breath, breathing in through the nose, deep into your lungs, then slowly release through the mouth. Find a rhythm in your breathing, and place your focus on the sound.

~Allow eyes to close, gently. This will help you focus on the breathing, and remove distractions from the mind.

~Check in with yourself. Are you comfortable? Do you need to adjust your position? Remove your socks? Is the tag in your shirt itchy? Notice your senses, bring awareness to your body, and adjust as needed.

~Scan your body, make sure each body part is relaxed. Wiggle your toes, circle your neck if it feels tight, etc. RELAX and BREATHE.

~Simply breathe and BE. Be still, be quiet, be calm.

Upon Finishing

~Let it go, release yourself slowly, and allow yourself to sit with our thoughts for a moment.

~After completing your time, avoid sudden movements-bring your body out of this calm state slowly, be kind to your body, and gentle in your movements.

~Hold yourself with loving kindness for the positive being that you are, let go, walk forward, live with a true heart, and go on with your day.

I hope that this article has inspired you to take a few moments to meditate each day, and perhaps even start a journey into deeper, more intentional meditations to change your existence in your life. Meditation as a regular practice can have a huge impact on everything that you do, and as you learn more, and practice more, you will see amazing things happen in every aspect of your life-mentally, physically, and spiritually. If you would like to explore meditation more in depth, or are interested in finding a personal wellness plan to works for your life and goals, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to talk about your health and wellness journey!

Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep?

Today I’m getting personal! I am here to admit it! While I’m an ace at getting my steps in (I hit 47 thousand in a day last week!), doing my strength training, yoga, pilates, drinking all of my water, and eating about 98% clean-I STINK at sleep. I’ve never been a sleeper!

As a child, I would go to bed, hear the rest of my family follow a few hours later, and spend the entire night listening to them snore quietly around the house while my brain refused to shut down. I’d doze off as the sun began to rise, and be woken to go to school an hour later. No amount of sleepless nights led to an inevitable deep sleep for me, and I carried this trait into adulthood. I still battle with this, finding that most nights I am very tired, looking forward to going to bed, but realizing in the hours that follow-I just can NOT sleep.

So, let’s talk about sleep!

The Negative Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Whether you are a “bad” sleeper, or perhaps just someone who’s life just doesn’t allow for much time for sleep, sleep deprivation can have a wide range of negative effects. Unfortunately, the disadvantages of not getting enough sleep are beyond daytime drowsiness and can’t be fixed with a daily dose of caffeine. Lack of sleep can jeopardize your safety and that of others around you or lead to serious health consequences. The following is a list of some surprising negative effects of inadequate sleep.

Faster Aging

Sleep deprivation can affect the way you look and accelerate the aging process. After just a few days of sleepless nights, many people start to develop wrinkles, lackluster skin and dark circles under the eyes. Much of this is caused by higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body which become elevated when you don’t get enough rest. When in excess, cortisol breaks down collagen – a protein that keeps the skin smooth, elastic and looking young.

Health Problems

A few nights of missed sleep can be fixed easily with more rest during subsequent days and is unlikely to have long lasting effects on your health. However, when you don’t sleep well for weeks, months, or even years, this will start to take a serious toll on your health and put you at a much higher risk of developing a range of health problems including depression, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Increased Risk of Causing Accidents

Lack of sleep causes drowsiness that can increase the risk of accidents when driving, operating machines and performing various other tasks. Drowsiness slows down your reaction times and this makes it much more difficult to respond when you need to. This is why fatigue is one of the leading causes of automobile accidents on the roads today.

Poor Mental Performance

If you’re sleep deprived, many of your cognitive responses will not function at peak levels. Your attention span, reasoning, sense of judgment and problem solving skills will be impaired when the body is not well rested. Lack of sleep also affects the way your brain processes and stores information and you’ll tend to forget things more often. All of these factors make performing effectively and productively during the day very difficult.

Weight Gain

It may be hard to believe that not sleeping enough can cause you to pack on some extra pounds. However, recent studies have found that shortened sleep time decreases the levels of leptin (a hormone that suppresses your appetite) in your body while also elevating levels of ghrelin (a hormone that induces hunger).  A lack of sleep also reduces your human growth hormone (a hormone that stimulates muscle growth and fat burning) levels that limit the rate at which your body burns fat. The overall result is that if you don’t sleep enough, you’ll be more likely to overeat and your body will burn off these excess calories at a slower rate.

As you can see, sleep holds a major key to our over health and wellbeing. That said, different people need different amounts of sleep. Some people cannot function on less than 8 hours, while others do just fine with 6. It’s important to be mindful of how you feel during the day. Do you need several cups of caffeine to make it through? Do you find yourself dozing off at your desk mid day? Do you lack physical and mental energy regularly? If you experience these things, and know you are probably not getting enough sleep, it’s time to make an effort to make some changes.

And Now…The Positive Effects of Sleep

After an uninterrupted sleep session, you should feel refreshed, full of energy and ready to take on the day. The importance of sleep goes beyond boosting your mood and energy levels. In recent years, scientists have gone to great lengths to understand the health benefits that sleep brings. Here are a few awesome benefits of getting decent sleep:

Better Memory

Numerous studies have shown that sleep has a positive effect on your memory and allows the brain to become much better at remembering things. Researchers believe this is the result of a process known as memory consolidation whereby the brain recalls skills learned while you are awake.

Enhanced Concentration

Sleep is like nutrition for the brain. When you get enough of it, the chances of losing concentration during the day are much less. This makes you much more alert while you complete your daily tasks and has a direct positive impact on your effectiveness, productivity and performance.

Faster Muscle Growth

The body releases growth hormone and builds new muscle cells while you are sleeping. Not only does it renew and revitalize your cells but it also repairs any tissue damage. This is particularly beneficial if you perform weightlifting workouts, as the intense exercises that make up these workouts tear your muscles slightly so that they can grow back bigger and stronger. Sleep provides your body with the platform it needs to fully repair these torn muscles and maximize your muscle size and strength.

Increased Fat Loss

Researchers have found that getting enough sleep can help you eat less and even accelerate the rate at which your body burns fat. Sleeping helps regulate the levels of ghrelin and leptin in your body – 2 hormones that control hunger and appetite. It also stimulates the production of human growth hormone – the hormone that supports and speeds up your body’s fat burning processes.

Improved Physical Performance

If you’re an athlete who wants to improve your performance, getting good quality sleep every day can help you achieve this goal. Researchers at Stanford University ran a study on college football players who slept for at least 10 hours daily over several weeks. They found that not only did the well-rested athletes increase their average sprint times but also felt less tired and had more stamina during the day.

Reduced Stress Levels

When your body is sleep deprived, it goes into stress mode. Its functions remain on high alert, this causes a spike in blood pressure and cortisol – the stress hormone. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attacks and stroke, while being stressed has a negative impact on your mood and increases your risk of falling into depression. By ensuring that you get enough sleep on a regular basis, you can keep your body out of stress mode and stay in a calm, relaxed state.

AND FINALLY! 5 Tips on How to Get the Best Sleep

At this point, I’m sure both you and I have realized the importance of getting enough sleep to be able to function at optimal levels. Sleeping well improves your appearance, brainpower, memory and other vital body functions. It also reduces your risk of gaining weight, feeling fatigued or developing chronic health conditions. Both adults and children need 6 or more hours of sleep every night for optimal health. However, just getting the recommended hours of sleep each day does not mean that your body is getting the rest that it needs. A lot of people toss and turn all night, don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning and find themselves drinking ALL the coffee to avoid drowsiness during the day. Quality of sleep is so important! So, here some tips to help you get the sleep you need:

Sleep in a Cool, Dark & Quiet Room

Sleeping with the lights on is one of the major causes of sleep deprivation. When your eyes are exposed to light, neurons are aroused, and this disrupts your sleep. Research has also shown that light exposure before sleep suppresses the production of melatonin – the hormone that controls your sleep and wake cycles. A reduction in this hormone at night normally leads to varying levels of sleeplessness. To avoid sleep disruption due to nighttime exposure to light, always sleep with all the lights off. This includes the light emitted from electronic devices, so make sure your computer, phone, tablet and other light producing equipment are either turned off or stored outside the bedroom.

Too much heat can also disrupt your sleep quality. To keep cool while you sleep, make sure you keep the window open and ensure the room is well ventilated. If you still find that you’re too warm after doing this, go to bed wearing lighter clothing and consider less blankets.

Noise is yet another thing that can have a detrimental impact on the quality of your sleep. To minimize the amount of noise in your room, make sure there’s nothing in the bedroom that could potentially make noises while you sleep. If it’s noisy outside your bedroom, try sleeping with a fan running (my entire family travels with box fans!) or even earplugs.

Avoid Caffeine After 3pm

As you probably know, coffee is a rich source of caffeine. These chemicals change the brain’s chemistry by binding with sleeping inducing receptors known as adenosine in order to keep you awake. The stimulating effects of caffeine can wreak havoc on your sleep because they take hours to wear off. Therefore, if you are an avid coffee drinker, (or other forms of caffeine) consider stopping consumption at 3pm. If that doesn’t help, consider stopping it even earlier.

Get Comfortable Before You Sleep

There are many ways to get comfortable before going to bed and these can improve the quality of your sleep. For instance, taking a hot shower raises your core body temperature and this helps to improve sleep. Alternatively, having a hot bath can relax your muscles and help you to have a soothing night of sleep.

Try Essential Oils or Scent Therapy

Essential oils and natural scents such as cedar wood, roman chamomile, sandalwood, valerian or lavender are all-natural relaxants and can help you have an amazing night’s sleep. There are lots of ways you can use these scents to enhance your sleep quality. If you’re having a bath before bed, try putting a few drops of your favorite sleep inducing scents into the bath and then allow the aromas to work their magic. Using these scents in the bedroom can also help calm the body and bring about sleep.

Unwind Before Bed

One final way to maximize your sleep quality is to start unwinding and getting ready for bed a few hours before you sleep. Disconnecting from the Internet, switching off the TV and your other electronic devices, and spending the last few hours of the day doing a relaxing activity can change your quality of sleep. For the last 30 minutes of the day, try to stop everything, empty your mind and focus fully on getting ready for sleep. In my personal life, I discovered that 15 minutes of restorative yoga, followed by a calming period of meditative breathing was my ticket to more sound, and deeper sleep.

Sleep is just one of the pillars of great health, and it’s in balancing all of the pillars that leads to ultimate wellness. If you are interested in finding the balance in your life, and becoming the healthiest and happiest you can be, let’s connect and chat! I’d love to hear from you and get you started on your own personal wellness journey.

 Be Blessed and BeeWell