One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to develop more healthy habits, such as joining a gym or eating more nutritious meals. If you desire to eat healthier in the coming year, the United States Department of Agriculture has given you a great head start with their Healthy Eating Tips website. Below are some of their suggestions to start a healthier diet. Continue reading
Time is a commodity we never seem to have enough of. Taking care of your children, holding down a job, and juggling chores and social obligations are enough to keep you so busy that you forget to spend alone time with your significant other. While taking time out for your partner can sometimes feel like just one more thing you need to do, it is important to realize the value of this time in nurturing your relationship and keeping it strong. The relaxing and fun moments you have with your partner are critical to surviving the occasional bumps in the road you experience as a couple. Below are some suggestions for ways to take time out for your significant other.
- Create an Intimate Night in– With some planning, you can create a night in as enjoyable as one you could have out on the town. Once you have put the kids to bed early, change into your best outfit and open a bottle of wine. Then, make your partner’s favorite meal (or order in) and dine by candlelight to set a romantic mood. Afterward, you can watch a movie both of you have been wanting to see while cuddling on the couch.
- Work Out Together– Working out always seems to go more quickly when you have someone with you, and what better person than your partner? Many gyms offer childcare services, which will give you both time to play racquetball, run on the treadmill, or lift weights. As a bonus, breaking a sweat together just may put your mind on bedroom activities for later on in the day.
- Take a Vacation– There is no better way to spend quality time with someone than when you are away from the rush of your everyday lives. Family vacations that offer some options for child care, such as cruises and ski resorts, are highly recommended for some additional alone time.
While we all know we should work out on a regular basis, quite often hitting the gym slides further and further down our list of priorities. However, making time to work out can have many positive impacts on your life beyond simple weight maintenance. Read on to find out how working out can help build a better you in addition to some muscles.
1) It helps you sleep better. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 67 percent of those who exercise regularly report getting a good night’s sleep, and these benefits are experienced regardless of the time of day the individuals choose to work out. This is because exerting yourself physically helps to keep your body’s circadian rhythm in check.
2) It is a natural mood elevator. Studies show that riding a bike, running, or performing any other cardio workout two to three times per week at a moderate pace can increase your energy levels by 20 percent and decrease feelings of fatigue by 65 percent. This is because after just 20 minutes of exercise, your metabolism is boosted and the amount of feel-good brain chemical dopamine increases inside your body.
3) It keeps you from getting sick. Research shows that working out two to three times per week will strengthen your immunity against bacteria and viruses, thus keeping you from getting colds or the flu as frequently as someone who doesn’t work out. Exercise also reduces your risk of having much more serious long-term illnesses, such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and dementia.
4) It can ease cramps! Exercise triggers your body to release endorphins, which act as natural opioids in the body that can relieve pain. In general, exercise increases the oxygen in your body’s cells, resulting in an all-over reduction of aches and pains.
Fatigue is certainly a common symptom of pregnancy, but if you know you are not pregnant and are feeling unusually sluggish anyway, you may be uncertain what to do. First and foremost, if you are not feeling well, it is important to contact your physician and schedule an appointment. While discussing things with your doctor, he or she may bring up some of the following common causes of fatigue.
1) Dehydration– The average adult human body is comprised of 50-65% water, and this liquid is vital to keeping things functioning as they should. Moderate dehydration can actually result in a loss of three percent of your total body weight, which can make you feel lightheaded as well as impact your ability to concentrate.
2) Cell Phones and Tablets– Technology has made it so simple for us to check our e-mail, perform a quick internet search, or watch a funny video anytime of the day or night. However, you should consider keeping your bedroom a gadget-free zone. Using your cell phone or tablet before bed increases your brain activity, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Once you are asleep, these very same gadgets could wake you up again with their ringing and beeping.
3) Medication– Be sure to bring a full list of the medications and herbal supplements you are taking, along with their dosages, to your appointment. Your doctor can let you know if any of them have the side effect of decreasing your energy level.
4) Gym Habits– Working out has the benefit of reducing the amount of cortisol, a stress-producing hormone, in your body. However, if you perform aerobic exercise for too long, your body will actually ramp up cortisol production instead.
5) Iron Intake– In order for oxygen to move around your body efficiently and eliminate waste from your cells, you need at least 18 milligrams of iron per day. Without it, you can develop what is known as iron deficiency anemia, which manifests itself through fatigue.
When women discuss their menstrual cycle, it is usually about some negative aspect of it. After all, the start of your period brings on a full range of emotion, from the discomfort of premenstrual syndrome to the disappointment of not being pregnant. While your monthly cycle is all too often unwelcome, we would like you to consider the ways in which it can be used to your benefit.
In previous postings, we have discussed how estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone fluctuate in your body throughout your cycle. By tracking your cycle and being attuned to your body, you can schedule certain tasks on days when your body’s hormones will give you optimal performance. Below you will find some examples of ways you can maximize your menstrual cycle.
- You can make the most of exercising on days when your estrogen levels are lower,
which is typically days 4-11 in a 28 day cycle. At this time, you will find high-intensity exercise easier, resulting in lower breathing and heart rates throughout. This is because the decreased estrogen allows for more efficient burning of the glycogen in your body, which provides quick energy.
- Many women report feeling more creative when they are menstruating, which would be the result of the calm brought on by the drop in estrogen and progesterone levels. If you are a writer, artist, craftswoman, etc., you may find this time to be very productive for you.
- In her book, “The Optimized Woman: If You Want to Get Ahead, Get a Cycle,” author Miranda Gray posits that women’s skillsets change throughout their monthly cycle, and describes how awareness of this can increase productivity and effectiveness in the workplace. Gray states that abilities that you will find heightened at various times of the month include logical reasoning, strategic planning, critical analysis, team building, project initiation and management, and outside of the box thinking.
Have you noticed times in your cycle where your abilities are heightened? Tell us more in the comments below.
photo courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk
Plenty of detailed information exists on what pregnant women should and should not ingest. However, when you are trying to conceive, the guidelines are less clear. Read on to learn more about great foods to eat when you are trying to become pregnant.
- Plant-Based Proteins– A study of 19,000 women conducted at the Harvard School of Health uncovered that women with a high intake of animal proteins were 39% more likely to be infertile that those with a diet higher in plant protein. Examples of plant proteins you can add to your plate are beans, edamame, nuts, tofu, and lentils.
- Whole Milk Products– The aforementioned study also found that one to two servings daily of whole milk or products containing this ingredient can protect you from ovulatory infertility. However, this only applies to whole milk; skim and low-fat milk can have the opposite effect. (The lower fat milk products have a higher amount of lactose so if you are able to tolerate it at all, the best bet would be organic whole milk products. The other thought would be soy milk but that is still a hot topic in the food world and it is said that it negatively affects fertility.)
- Leafy Green Vegetables– Dark leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and arugula contain high levels of folate, a B vitamin found to improve ovulation.
- Foods High in Iron– Studies show that women regularly taking a non-heme iron supplement were 40% less likely to have difficulty conceiving than those who do not. One great example of a plant-based product high in non-heme iron is pumpkin seeds.
- Complex Carbohydrates– Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest than refined carbohydrates, and therefore help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels stable. This is important because women with high blood sugar and/or high insulin levels are 50% less likely to become pregnant within a six month time frame than those with stable levels. When you are trying to conceive, choose dark bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta over their counterparts.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids– Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids help regulate your reproductive hormones, as well as increase the blood flow to your reproductive organs. Salmon is an excellent source of this. (However, not all fish is. When you are trying to conceive, you should avoid swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel.)
Approximately 85% of menstruating women report having some symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), which is triggered by the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels occurring in the body the week before your period. PMS can cause more than 150 different symptoms, including bloating, food cravings, and mood swings. Medications exist to aid in most of these issues. However, there are some natural cures to try as well.
- Supplements: According to studies, women who took Vitamin E and Fish Oil capsules daily for six months saw major improvements in mood swings, breast tenderness, headaches, cramps, and acne. There is also evidence to show ingesting about 1300 milligrams of calcium each day can help with these symptoms as well.
- Exercise: While exercising may feel like the last thing you want to do when you are feeling bad, mild exercise can help you fight headaches, anxiety, mood swings, and cramps. Working out increases your endorphins, which eases pain, and also triggers the dopamine and serotonin receptors in your brain, which increases pleasure and fights depression. If you really aren’t up to hitting the gym, try stretching or yoga to ease some of the tension in your body.
- Acupuncture: Research has shown that acupuncture eases the insomnia, cramps, nausea, anxiety, and headaches associated with PMS in 78% of women. Typically, relief is experienced within 24 hours of a session.
- Natural Diuretics– Bloating is a common and universally reviled PMS symptom, but it can be alleviated with natural diuretics. Aim to add potassium, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B, and Vitamin C to your diet through eating healthy foods such as celery, bananas, citrus fruits, tomatoes, fennel, chasteberry, Dong quai, Maca, Yams, Lemon balm, Ginko and watercress.
- Massage– Any massage, even one you give yourself, serves to increase blood flow and ease tension in your mind and body. For an extra boost, try adding several drops of lavender, a natural muscle relaxer, to a handful of massage lotion and rub it into your belly using a clockwise motion. In addition, Yoga can be a great relaxation remedy and similarly, some poses are ideal for your well being.
If you have some other natural cures you know of and would like to share, please add them to the comments below.
Are you trying to become pregnant and frustrated because it hasn’t happened yet? Physicians state that if you are under 35 and having unprotected sex 2-3 times per week, there is no need to worry until you have tried for one year without conceiving. If you are over 35, the window is 3-6 months. Regardless, when you are attempting to become pregnant, every month that goes by may seem like an eternity. Luckily, there are some things you can do to boost your likelihood of getting pregnant.
- Watch your diet and exercise. Studies have shown that being overweight or underweight can impede a woman trying to conceive. In one study of 2,112 pregnant women, it was found that women who had a body mass index (BMI) of 25-39 (considered obese) prior to pregnancy took twice as long to conceive as women who had a BMI in the normal range (18.5-24.9). For underweight women with a BMI of less than 19, it took four times as long to conceive.
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol. If you drink coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverages, you are advised to stay in the range of 200-250 milligrams of caffeine per day. Ingesting caffeine at around 500 milligrams per day is associated with lower fertility. If you drink alcohol, moderation is very important. Studies have shown that women drinking two alcoholic beverages per day lower their fertility by 60%!
- Read the label on your lubricant. Because you are having sex more frequently, you may find yourself in need of a lubricant. Be sure to check the label and verify you are not inadvertently using one that contains a spermicide. Additionally, research has found that many commercial water-based lubricants can inhibit sperm motility. Doctors actually recommend the use of canola oil or peanut oil instead in a pinch.
If you are trying to become pregnant, having an irregular period can be a source of great frustration, as it makes it much more difficult to calculate your fertile days. While all women will experience an irregular period occasionally, if it is happening on a regular basis, there is a chance something occurring in your daily life is the culprit. Below are some possible triggers.
- Stress– This is the number one cause of irregular periods. When you are stressed your body produces a hormone called cortisol, and this interferes with the amount of estrogen and progesterone being produced by your body. Excess cortisol can completely change the timing and flow of your cycle.
- Excessive Exercise– In this case, it’s possible to do too much of a good thing. If you are overdoing it at the gym, your body will not have the energy it needs to generate your menstrual cycle.
- Gaining or Losing Weight– Your weight is a factor in the level of hormones your body produces. If you have recently gained weight or are on a weight loss journey, you can expect your period to shift around.
- Alcohol– Estrogen and progesterone are metabolized by your liver, which is a critical part of the regulation of your cycle. When your liver is consumed by metabolizing alcohol in excess, it interferes with this process.
- Diet– Studies have shown that a diet high in fat and carbohydrates can interfere with your menstrual cycle. In most cases, a diet like this will cause weight gain, and cholesterol compounds located in fat cells actually produce a weak form of estrogen which will throw off your body’s natural hormone balance.
If you are seeking a natural way to determine your fertile days despite your cycle irregularities, Lady-Comp is your answer. This 99.3% effective fertility computer will accurately predict the days you are likely to become pregnant, regardless of variations in your cycle length. Please call us at 1-877-925-LADY to learn more.
From the moment you were old enough to consider using hormonal birth control, you’ve probably been told that it will make you gain weight. Whether this is myth or fact has been a subject of great debate over time. However, the truth lies somewhere in between.
Fact: In a 2009 research study conducted at Texas A&M University, 73 women, 34 of whom were on hormonal birth control, were placed on a supervised ten week weight training program. At the conclusion, researchers measured the gains in muscle mass in the participants, and discovered that the women on birth control built 60% less lean muscle mass than those who were not. In addition, those on birth control had higher levels of hormones that actually break down muscle tissue. Since lean muscle mass increases your metabolism, and thus your ability to burn calories, this would indicate that being on hormonal birth control is directly related to your body burning calories less efficiently.
Fact: Each woman is unique, with her own personal body chemistry. It’s impossible for anyone to know how your body will react to adding a hormonal birth control method to the mix until you actually do so.
Fact: According to Planned Parenthood, a very common reaction to hormonal birth control is water retention. While not fat, water weight is still extra pounds for your body to carry.
Fact: Planned Parenthood also states that progesterone, which is a hormone found in some forms of birth control, is known to increase appetite. Consuming more calories each day can, of course, lead to weight gain.
Fact: In The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it was reported that women taking the Depo-Provera birth control shot, which contains synthetic hormones to suppress estrogen levels, are twice as likely to become obese over a three year period than those not taking hormonal birth control, even after diet and exercise were taken into account.
If you are concerned about weight gain, it seems taking hormonal birth control is simply not worth the risk.