How You Can Create a Happy, Healthy New Year in 3 Simple Steps

Life Coaching is the favorite part of my job. I love sharing personal stories and real-world experiences as I help clients overcome addictions to food and other substances. When they understand that challenges with food are just symptoms of greater core issues, often related to emotions, they begin to overcome them as I teach how to change the behaviors for good.  

I was a cake decorator for over thirty years. This was my life’s passion, but it ultimately ruined my health. Giving this dream up was a huge sacrifice but one that led to greater health, energy and joy in my life. From this experience and others, I understand what it feels like to be an addict and the behaviors associated with it. I also understand the emotions and fears that come when giving up comfort and an artificial kind of love.  

Food is meant for fuel, nutrition and energy but we take it a step further and use it for comfort, love, and numbing out so we don’t have to feel what is truly going on inside. Emotional eating creates health challenges like addiction, obesity, fatigue, mental instability, and eating disorders of all kinds. It is fine to derive pleasure from food, but that should be a secondary result of making healthy food choices. 

We know now that scientists have engineered processed food to increase our cravings and desire to keep coming back and purchasing their products. Sweet tastes, for example are what we are biologically programmed from infancy to gravitate toward. Mother’s milk is sweet and toddlers often choose fruit over vegetables. High fructose corn syrup is added to many products from ketchup to cereal to satisfy the cravings for sweets. The unfortunate consequence of eating it, however, is that it turns off the mechanism in our brain saying we are full, so we continue to eat until we are stuffed or feeling sick. Processed sugar feeds candida and causes a host of health problems if eaten regularly over time. 

So, we are not completely to blame for our addictions, but there are things we can do to change our behaviors around food and make wiser choices that will reap greater benefits. As we enter a new year, I’d like to give 3 suggestions to help you make better decisions before going into the kitchen. 

  1. CREATE A PLAN: People who fail to plan, plan to fail right? Look through your recipe books and decide what to make for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Go shopping and get the ingredients needed.  
  2. PREPARE AHEAD:Prepare your mealsahead and refrigerate or freeze them for use throughout the week to save time and money.  
  3. ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS: Sometimes we eat because we’re bored or tired and we aren’t even hungry. Here is a series of questions you can ask yourself before going to the refrigerator or pantry for a snack.
  4. What do I want to eat?
  5. Is it something that will give my body nutrition,fuel and sustained energy?
  6. Why do I want it?
  7. What emotion istied to thisfood? 
  8. Will _____ serve me for the better or worse?
  9. What physical symptoms will I feelafter eating _______ ? 
  10. Is it worth it?

 

Asking yourself these questions will help you become conscious of your decisions and help make better ones. If you want to eat it, just because, then own that and don’t make yourself feel bad. Good habits are learned as we practice over time. Taking baby steps forward will help us see and feel the progress. Create a Happy New Year! 

 

 

The answer is YOU!

This time I was determined to fix this on my own. After all, I had a certification in corrective exercise, how could I not fix this? At that point I realized the only person that can help me was me. I was sick of paying chiropractors and doctors to temporarily ease the pain, but never giving me a path forward so that I could enjoy aggressive sports, lifting heavy, snowboarding, or whatever I felt like doing. I thought to myself, shouldn’t these professionals know how to fix this? Well yeah, but their answer was surgery. Not mine. By the way, I realize that sometimes the only answer is surgery in certain cases. And that’s okay. But I wanted to give my body a chance to see if I could figure this one out on my own. Feeling frustrated, but hopeful, I started to study every article about sacroiliac joint pain related to exercise and nursing it back to full strength, if it was even possible. There was a lot of trial and error, stumbling along the way, and figuring out which exercises were doable and which ones I needed to avoid. I slept different. I changed my posture. Patience was needed because this was a slow process. I slowly began building up my joint strength, my core strength, hip mobility, working in different planes of motion, and finally lifting heavier and heavier weight. I succeeded. I felt as if I had never experienced this injury because I was pain free and felt strong enough that I could do anything. This was probably one of the most satisfying experiences of overcoming something that seemed impossible to do. 

I feel like we all have something like this, whether it is losing fat, getting stronger, eating healthier and living a healthy lifestyle, training for a difficult event, overcoming an injury, getting over an addiction, succeeding at a business or career, and so on and so forth. My challenge to you is to be patient and be hopeful. Don’t give up. If it’s worth it to you, then give it all that you can whether that be physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Be your best self. You have the potential and you are well worth it! 

 

 

Winter Can Be Enjoyable

As we roll into the winter months, fitness can be more and more difficult to stay on top of. To help avoid the “Utah winter hibernation” I want to give 4 tips that have helped me to take control of the bleak Utah winters and be able to maintain my fitness lifestyle!  

 

 

  1. Make time for exercise. The most difficult thing about transitioning from summer to winter is planning. During the summer it can be easy to be active just be default. We can ride our bike, go for a walk, and participate with friends and family in outdoor activities without thinking twice about it. During the winter, these activities are not anywhere near as easy to do, if possible at all. So it requires planning to attend a fitness class, go to the gym, etc. So be sure and plan your workout and make it a priority. 
  2. Find a friend to workout with. We all know how hard it can be to get a fitness routine going in the winter. When it is cold outside the thought of leaving our warm bed and going to work out is less than desirable. Finding a friend that has similar fitness goals will help keep you motivated and accountable! Another substitute for this is hiring a personal trainer, even just initially, to help develop those habits.  
  3. Find a new winter hobby. During summer, it can be easy to get a quick workout in by just stepping outside and going for a walk. The cold brings unique opportunities to try something new! I personally love snowboarding, and it provides a great workout. Other things you might try is joining an indoor sports league, fitness classes at a local gym, indoor cycling, etc.  
  4. Be safe. In applying these tips, be sure that you have the right equipment and proper dress attire. One problem that I see, in the winter time is that people don’t dress adequately for winter sports and this can cause physiological problems. For example when running outdoors it is crucial to warm up properly, if we begin a jog by jumping right into it, the cold air can cause our respiratory tract to constrict, decreasing our flow of oxygen when our body needs it. This can lead to lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, hypothermia, and other problems. If you are unsure on what might be needed, ask an expert. 

 Winter can be an excellent time for fitness goals if combated properly! I would love to hear about the fun winter experiences that you have and any new winter activities that you find. You can reach out to me with these experiences and any questions you might have on instagram @trainerkelli or on Facebook! Have fun and be safe!  

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

You might exercise to improve your physical health and appearance, but did you also know that exercise has serious benefits for your mental health and relationships? It can lead to a healthier and happier life. I ran on the cross country and track team at BYU and as an avid runner and someone who has suffered from postpartum depression, I have reaped the benefits from running for nearly two decades. Running helped me tremendously throughout college, as a young mother, and in my professional life. 

Reduce Stress 

One of the most common mental health benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working out can help you manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases amounts of norepinephrine, which moderates your brain’s response to stress. So, working out will reduce stress and increase your body’s ability to deal with existing psychological stress. 

Boosting Happy Chemicals 

Another common mental health benefit to exercise is its increase of endorphins in the brain, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can alleviate symptoms among clinically depressed persons. In some cases, exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in treating depression. Just 30 minutes a few times a week can instantly boost your mood.  

Improve Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem 

Consistent exercise leads to improved levels of fitness. Physical fitness can boost your self-esteem and improve your self-image. Regardless of your weight, size, gender or age, exercise can improve your perception of your own attractiveness and self-worth. A study of adolescent girls found that running was linked to their greater self-esteem. Girls who could run more laps at a faster pace reportedly exhibited higher levels of self-esteem. In additional studies, overweight kids who participated in vigorous aerobic exercise such as running experience an elevation in self-esteem levels.  

Alleviate Anxiety 

Running and other forms of vigorous exercise can reduce your anxiety and help you relax. The chemicals released during and after exercise can help you calm down. Also, engaging in some moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise (HIIT/intervals) can reduce anxiety sensitivity.  

Help Manage Addiction 

The brain releases a chemical called dopamine in response to any form of pleasure whether it’s from exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol, food, or shopping. On a positive note, exercise can help in addiction recovery. Short exercise bouts can effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts causing them to de-prioritize cravings in the short-term. Alcohol abuse disrupts many body processes, including circadian rhythms. Thus, alcoholics find that they can’t fall asleep or stay asleep without drinking. Exercise helps reboot your body’s clock and helps you go to sleep at normal time. This leads to better sleep quality. A study from Vanderbilt University found that heavy marijuana users experienced a marked decline in both cravings and daily use after a few sessions of running on a treadmill. Several other studies found that running reduces cravings for other drugs including cocaine, meth, nicotine, and alcohol.  

Food can be an addiction when taken to extremes and exercise can help manage food cravings as well. Studies show that after one hour of fast running, participants were more likely to choose healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables over junk food.   

Helps the Brain Heal from Substance Abuse 

Amazingly, studies have found that exercise can help your brain heal from substance abuse even when the drug is as potent as meth. Meth decreases your brain’s production of dopamine and serotonin and burns out their receptors so it is harder for the brain to use dopamine and serotonin. Running helps to re-normalize the function of these two key neurotransmitters, and increases their production.  

Although exercise may not completely protect you from mental distress or illness, it definitely has positive effects beyond the gym. Furthermore, the benefits available to you through regular, consistent exercise go beyond your mental and physical health. When you feel better it affects other aspects of your life such as your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. Improved mental health can lead to improved relationships and a healthier and happier life.  

 

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine

 

Senior Fitness: Adding Life to Your Years

 

What if I told you there is something you can do for just thirty minutes

a day that will significantly improve your happiness and well-being, and add years to your life? Would you do it? Well, that “thing” is… you guessed it: exercise. Although exercise and physical activity are among the best things you can do for your health, some older adults are reluctant to exercise. Perhaps they are afraid that exercise will be too hard, or that physical activity will harm them. But studies show that “taking it easy” is much more risky. Lack of physical activity can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.

Exercise has been proven to help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities, including some types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It improves health in the frail or those with diseases that accompany aging. It helps us with our daily tasks of carrying groceries, climbing stairs, and reduces our dependency on others. For some, exercise alone is enough to improve mood and relieve depression. It can restore flexibility, accelerate recovery from an injury, and give us the energy to walk farther and dance longer.

For the most part, when older people lose their ability to function independently, it doesn’t happen just because they’ve aged…(read the rest of the story)

Written by:

Originally Published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Benefits of Strength Training

 

Tell me if this sounds familiar… You wake up, spend a long day at work, run several necessary errands, and end up coming home hungry and exhausted. You know you should go to the gym, but the thought of even putting your gym shoes on seems overwhelming, let alone working out. So why do it?

What is your why? Increase strength? Weight loss? Improve overall health? Knowing your why is what helps you dig deep, and push through those hard days. Regardless of your goal, strength training will benefit you, and I’m going to show you how.

First, let’s clear up a big misconception. One of the biggest complaints I hear in regards to lifting weights comes from female clients who think they will resemble The Incredible Hulk after picking up a weight. That could not be farther from reality. Unfortunately, many male-readers are probably nodding their heads in affirmation to the hours spent in the gym trying to put on size. It takes a lot of time and work to build muscle, and it certainly doesn’t happen by accident.

Here’s how you can modify your strength training, no matter what your goals are.

The key is knowing how to adjust your lifts to accommodate your goals. I like to break it down like this:

Goal: How many? How much?
Endurance 15-20 40-60%
Hypertrophy (bulk) 8-12 50-75%
Strength 1-5 80%

How many: This is how many repetitions should be done in a single set

How much: This is the percentage of your 1RM you should be lifting. (RM meaning repetition maximum, the maximum amount of weight you can lift in a single maximum effort)…(read the rest of the story)

Written by:

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

4 Components of Successful Concussion Treatment

 

As a scientist who studies concussion and does research on concussion treatment, I was recently asked what I would do if I needed concussion treatment. What questions would I ask, from my perspective as an expert? To answer this, my questions would focus on what I see as the four components of successful concussion recovery—diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and maintenance.

Diagnosis

How will my concussion be diagnosed? How will my concussion symptoms be distinguished from other potential health issues that might cause similar symptoms?

I would want to know what kind of health professional is best able to find answers to these preliminary questions, and what diagnostic tests will be used. A family doctor will typically be able to help get this process started and should refer you to a neuropsychologist, in the opinion of most concussion research experts. Among the tools that neuropsychologists use, a Functional Neurocognitive Imaging (fNCI) test is ideal. This is a type of MRI brain scan that can detect problems in brain functioning caused by concussion.

Assessment

After determining what my symptoms are, I would want to know exactly which parts of my brain have been affected, how that relates to the symptoms I am currently experiencing, and how my treatment will help my particular brain injury. A neuropsychologist, especially one who can use and interpret fNCI brain scanning, is usually best suited to do this assessment. In order for an assessment to be truly useful, it needs to go beyond being simply “informative” and give you and your medical providers a clear treatment plan for your individual rehabilitation program.

Treatment

Although post-concussion symptoms can vary widely from person to person, there are four general categories that scientists and doctors use to group common symptoms:…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Dr. Mark D. Allen

The Cardio Fat-Loss Myth

It amazes me how many people I see at the gym doing endless cardio—particularly those who are out of shape. Granted, some are training for a race, but most aren’t. Regardless, you all deserve a big high five if you’re putting in that kind of effort, because it can be exhausting.

I’ve often wondered why the general population resorts to this method when trying to get back into shape or lose weight. I think something inside us tricks our minds into thinking “if I sweat a ton, then I will lose fat.” I have even found myself in this type of thinking. That was before I really started getting into anaerobic training (strength training/interval training). After all, isn’t it as simple as calories in versus calories out? So, if I run and burn a ton of calories and cut my calories in eating, then voila, I will lose fat, right? That’s not entirely true.

Too much aerobic exercise with a low calorie diet will result in decreased muscle tissue.  This is because you will use the muscle for energy and your body will start storing fat as a survival mechanism. This is bad. Your resting metabolic rate (metabolism) will drastically decrease. That is why most people gain their weight back so easily after throwing in the towel with the cardio routine, coupled with a low calorie diet.

The best approach to fat loss, whether you’re male or female, is in this exact order: 1) A sound nutrition plan; 2) Strength training; and 3) Interval training.

Eating the right balance of healthy carbs, fats, and proteins with the proper portions and timing will allow you to…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Travis Lott

Six Lesser Known Hikes In Utah Valley

Instead of Utah Lake Parkway, try… Payson Lake Trail

Utah Lake is definitely a highlight in Utah County (and its namesake). But if you love Utah Lake, then you will fall in love with Payson Lake. Just 30 minutes south of Utah Lake, the one-mile trail winds around this beautiful mountain lake. Take a moment to take a dip in the cool water or catch a fish. Bring the family and a picnic and make the most of your hike!

 To get there, take the Payson exit off I-15. Turn left on 100 N and then right on 600 E, the Nebo Scenic Loop. The trail is 11 miles up the road.

 Instead of Stewart Falls, try… Scout Falls

Stewart Falls is a beautiful place to hike to any time of year, but few people know that there is another gorgeous waterfall not too far away. On the Timpooneeke trail, there is the scenic Scout Falls. This 2.4-mile hike takes you through forests and meadows before you arrive at the falls. It is a great date hike!

 To get there, take Highway 92 passing the toll booth into American Fork Canyon. Take the south fork until you see the Timpanooke turnoff. Take the turnoff until you arrive at the parking lot. From the parking lot, walk past the restrooms to the guard station. Then take the right trail on the west side.

 Instead of Rock Canyon, try… Days Canyon Trail

In Maple Canyon there is a fun hike, great for family and friends. The Days Canyon Trailhead is just up the right fork of Hobble Creek Canyon by Cherry Campground. This trail is 3.3 miles long, but can be 2 to 6 miles long, depending on how you combine it with other trails. The trail follows a stream and ends in a beautiful meadow.

 To get there, take Canyon Drive for 2.5 miles into Hobble Creek Canyon. Past the golf course, the road splits. Take the right fork for about 1.5 miles. The parking lot is on your right after Cherry Campground.

Instead of Provo River Parkway, try… Spanish Fork River Trail

An alternative to the Provo River Trail is the Spanish Fork River Trail. This 4.4-mile trail is less than a year old. It is great for running, strolling, or biking.

 To get there, take the Highway 6 exit off I-15 heading towards Price. Continue on Highway 6 for 4 miles and then turn right on Powerhouse Road. Park at Canyon View Park and join the trail there.

 Instead of Battle Creek Falls, try…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Sarah Toller

Eating Healthy Under Pressure

Comfort is often found in the food we grew up with as a child. I have fond memories of camping in the mountains with hot dogs and s’mores over the fire, pizza at parties with soft drinks, and the decadent desserts we enjoyed as a family. Unfortunately, these foods are what contributed to me getting sick.

After making what many people viewed as a drastic change in my eating, I started bringing my own food to parties and family gatherings. Raw pizza with plenty of green salad and fruit graced my plate as I noticed weird looks from others at the table. Occasionally someone got up the nerve to ask what I was eating, making looks and comments of disgust after finding out. This hurt my feelings as I took their words to heart and I began withdrawing from these events to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

Not long afterward, however, I realized this was only hurting me so I decided not to allow their comments or actions determine what I ate and how I felt. As I took care of myself, I became more confident and healthy and others took notice.

Friends and family asked me different questions with genuine interest. These were perfect opportunities for me to help educate them about the reasons I decided to eat more raw foods and the many benefits I received because of it. Sometimes they asked if they could taste my food followed by a request for the recipes. I was elated and appreciated their authenticity.

Many people struggle in social situations because they have different nutritional needs due to food allergies and ill health. If this is you, here are some great tips to help you navigate the occasion with ease.

TIPS FOR THE GUEST:

  1. Eat before you go so you are full and can enjoy socializing without worrying about the food.
  2. Position yourself in a different part of the room away from the food as you talk.
  3. Bring something to share with everyone that your family or friends love. Be ready to share the recipe.
  4. Choose larger amounts of the foods you can have like the salads, fruit, vegetables, etc. and skip what you’ll regret later.
  5. Go early to help the host prepare the food and politely ask if you can leave the croutons on the side of the salad instead of putting them in, for example.
  6. If the host takes extra care to make something special for you, be sure to thank them and show your appreciation for their extra attention to detail.
  7. Put your thick skin on and don’t worry about what other people say about your food. Realize that many people aren’t trying to be insensitive, they genuinely want to understand your situation. Educate them about it and be open, honest and kind in your replies.
  8. If you are the parent of a child with special food needs, bring something for them to eat and/or share to ease the burden of the host.
  9. Teach your child to be polite and not make a big deal about what they can’t eat or don’t like. They can decline what is being offered and thank the host for their hospitality.
  10. Keep your conversation about a variety of different topics other than just food. Be interesting and genuinely interested in others.

TIPS FOR THE HOST:

If you are the host of the event, you may want to prepare ahead with the following suggestions.

  1. On the invitations…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by:Wendy Thueson