Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Quick + Easy Ways To Incorporate Wellness Into Your Week

With all of the go, go, go that comes with being a busy, working woman, sometimes our own health falls to the wayside. We get it, not everyone has the time to hit a two-hour Pilates class every day…we certainly don’t! We’re all about striking a balance here and figuring out simple ways to improve our health on the daily. Let’s keep it simple and dive right into our five quick and easy wellness tips to improve your week.

easy wellness tips

Increase Your Intake of Hydrating Foods

Every wellness article you read is going to tell you to drink your body weight in water, and you should! But just in case you’re not the best at guzzling gallons of water in one sitting, try snacking on it! Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and zucchinis are about 95 percent water. Increase your intake of these tasty snacks and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. We also love mixing in a shot of this hydrating inner beauty boost into our water!

Micro-Dose Your Vitamin D

Set a timer on your phone, write it on your to-do list, do whatever you need to do to incorporate fresh air into your day. Before lunch each day, head outside for a 15-minute walk and soak up the sunshine. Fifteen minutes may not sound like much, but it’s enough to get your blood pumping and also shift your mindset. Pencil in a minimum of one walk per day, but if you can swing more, do it!

Eat Mindfully

So many of us (*guilty hand raised*) eat like it’s just something else to check off our to-do list. We often eat our lunch at our desk in front of a computer, or at home in front of the television. This often leads to overeating or mindless snacking! When it’s time to eat a meal, choose somewhere intentional to sit that doesn’t involve devices with screens. This will help you feel mindful as you eat, breathing between bites, and taking note of when your body is satisfied.

Try Dry Brushing

Never heard of dry brushing? It has a surprising number of benefits, including lymphatic system stimulation. The lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and transporting waste to the blood. Dry brushing can stimulate the lymphatic system as it stimulates and invigorates the skin. It helps with everything from improving the appearance of skin to supporting digestion. Try our favorite brush here

Do Bedtime Yoga

This is one of our favorite ways to end the day. You literally do yoga in your bed, what could be more relaxing? We follow this routine, but feel free to find one that you look forward to doing each night!

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 8 Great Things About Exercising at Lunch

8 Great Things About Exercising at Lunch

Between work, social obligations and general life responsibilities, it can be difficult to fit everything into one day. That often leads to healthy activities like working out being relegated to extracurricular status and never becoming part of your routine.

Given all that, squeezing in a lunchtime workout might seem impossible. And yet … below we’ve got eight reasons to do exactly that. Once you start reaping the physical and mental benefits of midday exercise, you might never go back.

1
IT WILL DE-STRESS YOUR DAY

Nothing wards off stress quicker than a good sweat session. Per Harvard Medical School, exercise “has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.” It’s been successfully used to treat anxiety disorders and even clinical depression, so it can help you cope with a day full of meetings or that big presentation.

2
YOUR WORKOUTS WILL BE MORE EFFICIENT

If you’ve got nowhere to be, it’s easy to move slowly through a workout, taking time to check your phone, scroll through your playlist or just sit and relax on a weight bench. But when you’re due back in the office, you’ve got extra incentive to make the most of your time. And fortunately, between cardio, weight circuits and HIIT classes, you don’t need more than 30–40 minutes to get in a great workout.

3
YOU’LL UNDO DESK-RELATED DAMAGE

It’s just not healthy to sit all day. Over the years, studies have shown sedentary behavior is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease and poor circulation. In fact, research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a 61% increase in mortality rates in those who sit and watch TV for seven hours or more per day. So getting up from your desk to stretch or walk around is a great start. Getting up from your desk to exercise for 30–45 minutes is even better.

4
IT FREES UP YOUR EVENINGS

If you’re tired of choosing between the gym and dinner with friends, well, now you won’t have to. Exercise during lunch and your night will be free to spend as you please, without the guilt of knowing you’ve missed yet another workout.

5
YOU’LL BEAT THE CROWDS

Sure, this article could cause everyone to make a mad dash to the gym. But the reality is that, on weekdays, most people work out in the morning or in the evening. That leaves the gym less crowded for lunchtime exercisers like you, so you can nab a coveted bike in that popular spin class or knock out a quick gym session without waiting on machines.

6
YOU’LL MAKE BETTER FOOD CHOICES

Even though you may feel hungry after working out, studies show exercise can help to regulate appetite and even promote satiety. It does this by releasing hormones that help the body better recognize when it’s full. So if you work out during the day, you’re not only getting the healthy benefits of exercise, but you’re more likely to make smart choices at lunch and dinner.

7
YOU’LL FEEL MORE ENERGIZED

A good workout gets the endorphins flowing, and endorphins contribute to that feeling of euphoria, often referred to as a “runner’s high.” That good feeling doesn’t stop the second you stop moving. Instead, the increased heart rate and blood flow can be accompanied by improved mood and energy for several hours after a workout, which means you’ll have the energy you need to tackle the rest of your afternoon.

8
IT’LL BOOST YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

In addition to improving your physical energy, exercise can also increase mental alertness and creative thinking. According to British researchers, workers who spent 30–60 minutes exercising at lunch reported an average performance boost of 15%. And 60% of workers saw improved time management skills, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines on days they exercised.

With all those reasons to work out during lunch, you might as well give it a try. And if your boss gives you a hard time about leaving in the middle of the day, just say (diplomatically) that you’re exercising because you care about your job and want to perform at your best.

 

by Kevin Gray

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Keto Recipes to Satisfy Your Cravings

Livin’ La Keto Loca

Creative cooking for the keto lifestyle

When it comes to a ketogenic diet, it’s no surprise that many of your favorite foods are off limits (e.g., sugary treats, carb-filled breads and pastas, etc.). And for most people, that’s enough of a deterrent to stay away from keto altogether. Don’t write it off just yet—you can enjoy delicious savory and even sweet foods even when following the strict keto macronutrient profile. These amazing recipes will prove it.

Egg-citing Breakfasts

Delicious Dinners

Savory Snacks

California Sunrise Bowl
Blueberry Scones
Ketolicious Chicken Empañadas
Fat Pizza
La Keto Loca Quesadillas
Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus
Cheesy Chicken Casserole
Taco ’Bout It Keto Skillet
Jalapeño Parm Crisps
Keto-Style Pigs in a Blanket

 

Egg-citing Breakfasts

California Sunrise Bowl

Makes 1 Serving

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ link chorizo sausage (4″ long)
  • ½ ripe California avocado
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp. salsa
  • ⅛ cup cilantro

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook chorizo over medium-high heat in a skillet.
  2. Place chorizo on a paper towel and pour out some of the grease, setting some aside for the eggs.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, add leftover chorizo grease, then break in eggs and scramble. For extra fluffiness, add milk (optional). Once cooked, add eggs to the bottom of a bowl.
  4. Top eggs with chorizo and layer on avocado, cheese, tomato, sour cream, and cilantro.
    Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 530 calories, 13 g carbs, 43 g fat, 26 g protein

 

Blueberry Scones

Makes 12 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¼ tsp. stevia
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup fresh blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, stevia, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Stir in eggs, whipping cream, oil, and vanilla and mix until a dough forms. Add blueberries; carefully mix through.
  4. On the baking sheet, pat dough into a rectangle, about 10” x 8” in size.
  5. Cut dough into 6 squares, then cut each square diagonally to form two triangles. Gently lift scones and distribute them around the pan.
  6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and slightly firm. Remove and allow to cool. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 150 calories, 6 g carbs, 12 g fat, 5 g protein

Delicious Dinners

Ketolicious Chicken Empañadas

Makes 3 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
Crust:
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 large egg

Filling:

  • 6 oz. ground chicken
  • 1¼ tsp. Metagenics MCT oil
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Crust:

  1. Cut cream cheese into 4-5 pieces and add to a bowl along with mozzarella cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds. While cheese is still hot, mix in almond flour. Add egg and mix well.
  2. On a nonstick sheet, roll out dough into a flat circle.
  3. Using a cookie cutter, create 6-8 circles, approximately 5″ in diameter.

Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place dough circles onto a nonstick baking pan. Layer filling on one side of the circle.
  2. Fold and press down the edges, creating a half-moon shape.
  3. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 370 calories, 4 g carbs, 27 g fat, 26 g protein

 

Fat Pizza

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
Crust:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ Tbsp. psyllium husk powder

Topping:

  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 5 oz. shredded cheese
  • 1½ oz. pepperoni

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. For crust, melt cheese in a bowl and add eggs to combine. Add flour and husk powder to mixture and knead dough into a ball.
  2. Apply some olive oil to the bottom of the baking pan to keep from sticking. Flatten the ball of dough directly over oil, then bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Remove and allow to cool.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Spread tomato paste on crust and sprinkle oregano on top. Top with cheese and pepperoni.
  4. Bake for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 355 calories, 8.4 g carbs, 26 g fat, 23 g protein

 

La Keto Loca Quesadillas

Makes 3 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
Low-Carb Tortillas:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 1½ tsp. ground psyllium husk powder
  • 1 Tbsp. almond flour
  • ½ tsp. salt

Filling:

  • 5 oz. shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 oz. spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil

DIRECTIONS:
Tortillas:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Beat eggs and egg whites together until fluffy, then add cream cheese and continue to beat until smooth.
  2. Combine salt, psyllium husk powder, and almond flour in a small bowl and mix well. Beat flour mixture into batter until combined; ensure batter is thick and allow to rest. (If needed, add more husk powder to increase thickness.)
  3. Using a spatula, spread batter over parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake 5-7 minutes until edges brown, then cut into pieces; alternatively, you may fry batter in rounds on the stove.

Quesadillas:

  1. Heat oil (or butter) in a small, non-stick skillet. Add tortilla to pan, top with a handful of spinach and sprinkle with cheese, then fold in half; fry for a couple minutes on eat side until cheese is melted. Alternatively, you may leave tortilla open and add a second tortilla on top to close. Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 410 calories, 6 g carbs, 36 g fat, 17 g protein

 

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 16 slices bacon
  • 16 medium spears asparagus
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Wrap each slice of bacon tightly around each asparagus spear, then season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Use tongs to turn each piece around, then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until bacon is crispy. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 233 calories, 5 g carbs, 16 g fat, 18 g protein

 

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. green pesto
  • ½ lemon juice
  • 1½ lb. chicken breasts
  • 7 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. cauliflower
  • 1 leek
  • 4 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • 7 oz. shredded cheese
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Mix cream with pesto and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and fry in oil until golden brown.
  3. Place chicken in a greased 9” x 13” baking dish, then pour in cream mixture.
  4. Chop leek, cherry tomatoes, and cauliflower into small florets and add to dish to top chicken.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for at least 30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 355 calories, 11 g carbs, 25 g fat, 29 g protein

 

Taco ’Bout It Keto Skillet

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ medium white onion, diced
  • ½ large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can green chilies
  • 3 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 12 oz. cauliflower rice
  • 4 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, then add in beef and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until brown.
  2. Add in onion, bell pepper, and taco seasoning and for cook 3 more minutes.
  3. Stir in green chilies and tomatoes along with cauliflower rice. Cook 5-7 minutes until moisture is gone.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese and cover until melted, about 2 minutes. Add toppings of choice (avocado, sour cream, cilantro, or jalapeno), serve, and enjoy!
Per Serving: 376 calories, 12 g carbs, 21 g fat, 33 g protein

Savory Snacks

Jalapeño Parm Crisps

Makes 2 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 8 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium jalapeño

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. On a baking mat or parchment paper, create 8 mounds of Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp. each spaced 1” apart.
  2. Slice jalapeño thinly, then lay on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes; remove and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, lay a jalapeño slice on top of each mound of Parmesan, pressing down slightly.
  4. Split both cheddar slices into 4 pieces (8 total) and lay each piece on top of the jalapeño and Parmesan.
  5. Bake for 9 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 200 calories, 4 g carbs, 15 g fat, 13 g protein

 

Keto-Style Pigs in a Blanket

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 medium hot dogs
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cut each hot dog into 3 equal-sized pieces; set aside.
  2. Melt mozzarella in microwave and combine with almond flour and egg.
  3. Add baking powder, garlic powder, and salt to the mixture; mix well.
  4. Form dough in hands, split into 12 pieces, and roll pieces into balls.
  5. Place dough balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Press each ball flat into an oval shape.
  6. Wrap each piece of hot dog in the pieces of dough. Sprinkle outside with sesame seeds, pressing down to stick.
  7. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 330 calories, 5 g carbs, 28 g fat, 15 g protein

 

Thanks for sharing Metagenics: Ketogenic

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Comprehensive Food Sensitivity Testing in Guelph

Food Sensitivities

Electro Dermal Screening (EDS) Food Sensitivity Testing is done in-house at Forward Health, at anytime Dr. Laura is available.  Please call reception to book your appointment for testing and follow-up today. If you are a new patient, Dr. Laura will need to see you first to evaluate the specifics of your individualized testing profile.

Often sensitivities go undiagnosed because the reaction is gradual and will happen within 3minutes to 3 days. This makes it more difficult to pinpoint which food is the trigger. Being sensitive to a food may mean the person needs to avoid it completely, or be able to have a small amount occasionally. Sometimes after months of abstinence, a food may be reintroduced without an issue. Symptoms of food sensitivity can be variable and may involve:

SKIN: eczema, skin rashes, dark circles under the eyes, puffiness

JOINTS: pain, inflammation

BRAIN: difficulty concentrating, fatigue, depression, hyperactivity

GI: damage to the mucosal lining, perforation & “leaky gut”. This can make it difficult for nutrients and vitamins to absorb into the body and the person over time can become deficient in things like iron, zinc, and B12. It can also rear itself as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.

WEIGHT GAIN: always good to rule out food sensitivities when there is unexplained weight gain.

photo from health nest nutrition

Who is at risk?

  • Often affiliated with autoimmune disease (SLE/lupus, thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), toxic exposure to heavy metals, molds & family history.
  • Aggravated by alcohol, strenuous exercise and NSAIDs (Advil, Ibuprofen)
  • History exogenous hormone exposure (birth control pills, pesticides, plastics), antibiotics

What foods typically cause IgG reactions?

  • Dairy, wheat, egg, sugar, corn & soy
  • Some with RA find the nightshade family harmful: (potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant)

How do I learn if I have an sensitivity?

IgG testing can be accessed through your health care practitioner via electrodermal screening or blood draw test. Call for availability.

What’s the difference between food sensitivity and food allergies?

Food sensitivities are a delayed response 3 minutes – 3 days later, as discussed above. Food sensitivities are not an immediate threat to life.  Food allergies are an immediate (within 5-10minutes of ingesting the food) IgE immune response that can be life threatening.  Once a food allergy (often shellfish or peanut) are identified, the body amps up its response at every subsequent exposure. Mast cells and basophils release proinflammatory mediators in response to allergen exposure. This is why it is important for people with food allergies to carry an EPI pen, use it when needed and get themselves to a hospital if they are exposed to the particular food. Symptoms of food allergy can be variable and may involve:

MOOD: feeling of doom or very unwell.

SKIN: hives, urticaria (pale red raised itchy bumps), swelling or flaring of atopic dermatitis (skin irritation)

RESPIRATORY: wheezing, asthma symptoms, allergic rhinitis symptoms, throat tightness, and trouble breathing.

GI: nausea, vomit, pain, difficulty swallowing

Combined together in a very fast response, the person may experience ANAPHYLAXIS, a serious and potentially life threatening allergic reaction. Note that aside from food, insect bites, stings, medications can also be a trigger.

What foods typically cause IgE reactions?

  • Peanut, Pollen (could be on fresh fruit), shellfish, fish, sesame seeds, tree nuts, soy, dairy, eggs, and wheat.
  • Made worse with alcohol, exercise, NSAIDs (Advil, ibuprofen)

What if someone is experiencing these symptoms and has a known food allergy?epipen

  1. Ask if they have an EPI pen and where they keep it. It will administer epinephrine which will increase their heart rate and open their airways.
  2. Ask if you can get it for them
  3. Allow the person to administer the EPI pen themselves. It should be placed at the thigh and pressed into the muscle.
  4. If no EPI, consider a dose of Benadryl
  5.  Get the person to the hospital immediately.

How do I learn if I have an allergy?

IgE testing can be done by your health care practitioner via skin prick or blood test. A naturopathic doctor may order some IgE blood tests for food allergy and it is usually an immunologist whom will do the skin prick test to diagnose and provide an EPI pen prescription if need be. Feel free to call Forward Health and book an appointment to discuss your concerns and needs and to obtain the appropriate requisition via Dr. Laura.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Dr. Phil Shares: 6 Most Important Tips for Building Muscle

6 Most Important Tips for Building Muscle

Whether your goal is to get bigger and stronger, or improve power and explosiveness for sports, you want to see progress — and pronto.

But building muscle efficiently requires more than just putting in time at the weight rack. Along with your strength training regimen, diet and lifestyle choices all play important roles.

But before you even start thinking about how to build muscle, it’s instructive to know the primary factors that determine just how much of it you can gain.

3 Factors Affecting Muscle Growth

These are the main criteria dictating increases in muscle size, or hypertrophy — and two of them are outside your control.

Sex

Simmer down — we’re talking gender. The male persuasion unsurprisingly has a decided advantage when it comes to building muscle. That’s due in large part to far greater levels of testosterone and a higher red blood cell count among men than women, who typically have to go to more extraordinary lengths to gain size.

Genetics

Similar to the way it governs how much hair you get to keep, heredity determines how much muscle you can develop. Thanks to genetics, a segment of the populace is born with a higher number of type II, or fast-twitch, muscle fibers, which have the greatest potential for growth.

Training Specificity

The factor you can change — and the one we’ll spend much of this article focusing on — is the approach you take to your workouts overall. There are different protocols that distinguish lifting for mass from lifting for strength.

Generally speaking, lifting very heavy weights in low volume is how to gain strength, and lifting moderately heavy weights in high volume is how to gain muscle.

Woman doing benchpress

How to Build Muscle: The 6 Most Important Things You Can Do

For those seeking tips on how to gain muscle, here are some strategies to get you started.

1. Perform multi-joint exercises

Resistance training is the most efficient way to build lean mass — especially if you pack your workouts with big, compound (multi-joint) moves like the squat, bench press, lunge, and pull-up.

“You can certainly build muscle with all types of moves, but a strong base in multi-joint efforts, at least some of the time, is a good idea,” says Michael Ormsbee, Ph.D., interim director of the Institute of Sports Science & Medicine at Florida State University.

Science agrees: Compound exercises cause the greatest increase in testosterone, a key muscle-building hormone, according to researchers at the University of Connecticut.

2. Eat more protein

Now that you’re lifting weights, you need to consume more protein to promote muscle repair, recovery, and growth since amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are necessary to build muscle tissue.

When you’re planning your high-protein meals, 20 grams of protein is the optimal amount generally accepted for muscle growth. Research has found that the body doesn’t use much more than 20 grams for muscle-building at any one sitting. Around 80 grams of protein per day (or, four meals containing 20-grams of protein each) is about right for most people.

If you want to calculate the optimal protein amount for you and your goals, Beachbody recommends 0.5 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of desired lean bodyweight per day, depending on exercise intensity. (The harder the workout, the more protein is needed for growth and recovery.)

If you have ambitious muscle-building goals, such as committing to Beachbody’s Body Beast program, shoot for the higher end of the range by adding one or two additional protein-rich snacks to your day.

Shakeology is a great way to sneak in additional calories and nutrients and contains 16 to 17 grams of protein (depending on the flavor).

3. Don’t just lift heavy

When you lift heavy weights or do explosive exercises like sprinting, you target the type-II muscle fibers we discussed earlier. But studies show that type-I fibers (a.k.a. slow twitch — the kind used in endurance activities ) also have growth potential, so don’t ignore them.

Once every week or two, target those type-I fibers with low weight, high rep work (e.g., 3-4 sets of 15 or more reps per exercise). Or simply follow a Beachbody program such as Body Beast21-Day Fix, P90X, 22-Minute Hard Corps, or The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, which have that kind of variation built in.

4. Get plenty of shut-eye

Shoot for a minimum of seven hours a night. Getting less than that on a regular basis can cause you to rack up sleep debt, which can put the brakes on protein synthesis (a.k.a. muscle growth) and increase protein (read: muscle) degradation, according to a study by Brazilian researchers.

Plus, you won’t reap the full benefits of human growth hormone, the levels of which spike while you’re in dreamland. Have trouble sleeping? Try these natural tips on how to get good sleep tonight.

5. Increase weight responsibly

You need to challenge your muscles to trigger growth, but you also need to be smart about how you go about it. If you increase the amount of weight you’re lifting too quickly, you’ll increase your risk of injury. But if you do it too slowly, you’ll shortchange your results or hit a plateau.

So how do you strike a balance? Pay attention to the effort you’re exerting. If you’re lifting with perfect form, and your last few reps an exercise feel similar to your first few, you know it’s time to reach for a heavier weight.

6. Allow time for recovery

Muscles grow between workouts, not during them, so make recovery a priority. In practice, that means eating healthier, consuming more protein, and not overtraining. Take at least one to two days off per week to allow your muscles to fully recover.

“Training too often or at too-high an intensity too frequently — without rest and recovery — can actually hurt your muscle-building efforts,” says Ormsbee.

Your move: Take at least one to two days off per week to allow your muscles to fully recover, and maximize the effectiveness of your downtime by doing light cross training (e.g. hiking, cycling) or activities like foam rolling and yoga.

If you are patient, focused, and consistent with your workouts and recovery, you will see results.

In addition to consuming more protein, there are a number of nutritional steps you can take to bulk up responsibly.

1. Increase calories

“No one can be in a significant calorie deficit and gain muscle,” says Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab.

To find out how many more calories you should consume to gain weight, determine how many calories you need to maintain your current weight — your baseline — then add 300. And if you’re following a muscle-building program like Body Beast, add the recommended calories outlined in the guide.

2. Strike the right mix of macros

Whether your calories come from carbs, fat, or protein goes a long way in determining whether your weight gain comes from muscle or from fat.

An easy and relatively fast way to gain muscle is bulking first, then leaning out, which is the idea behind programs like Body Beast. Using this method, you only have to focus on one thing at a time — building, then getting lean, versus trying to increase mass while simultaneously limiting fat gain.

To increase weight gained from fat, your macros should emphasize carbohydrates and fat, since it’s the most calorically dense macronutrient. The bulk of that fat should come from unsaturated sources such as avocado, olive oil, and salmon.

3. Focus on post-workout nutrition

Generally, you should consume about 20 grams of protein with some carbs shortly after a workout. One way to get the right mix is with Beachbody Peformance Recover, which combines time-released proteins and phytonutrients to aid recovery and reduce muscle breakdown.

During the post-workout anabolic window, you’ll also want to limit fats, which can slow the absorption of protein. While there is some recent research that suggeststhe window may actually extend up to several hours following exercise, there’s no harm in getting nutrients in early as long as you’re sticking to your overall caloric and macronutrient goals.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: Wheat & Gluten Sensitivity Testing

WHEAT & GLUTEN SENSITIVITY TESTING

There are over 100 proteins in wheat, which includes gluten, but is not limited to gluten.

Every time any of us eats gluten, some damage is done to the small intestinal lining. For most, it recovers and repairs in about twenty minutes . For those who are genetically susceptible it may take up to five hours. Then the next meal comes. Over time, repeated meals containing gluten repeat the damage, with little time of repair and recovery and eventually the body cannot keep up. Some trigger point of stress or illness may make it more difficult for the recovery. Then the signs and symptoms may show up. Not everyone has traditional symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, bowel issues, pain, gas, or bloating. Some have apparently no symptoms at all.

Gluten sensitivity plays a role in things like:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • autism
  • schizophrenia
  • cerebellar ataxia
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • fertility
  • autoimmunity
  • celiac disease
  • dermatitis herpatiformis
  • polymyalgia

 

A lot of gastroenterologists know how to screen for celiac disease, they’ll typically test for antibodies to alpha-gliadin, transglutaminase-2, maybe if they’re current with the scientific literature they’ll also screen for antibodies to deamidated gliadin and endomysium.

If some of these tests are positive, then they might do a biopsy to determine if there is damage in the small intestine. If the tests are negative, the patient’s generally told that they don’t have celiac or gluten intolerance and that’s as far at it goes.

However, research shows that people can and do react to several other components in wheat above and beyond alpha-gliadin, the fraction of wheat that is involved in the pathogenesis of celiac disease, and these include other epitopes of gliadin like beta-gliadin, gamma-gliadin and omegagliadin; glutenin, which is the other major half of the wheat protein; wheat germ agglutinin, which is a lectin in wheat; gluteomorphin; and deamidated gliadin. What’s more, people can react to other types of tissue transglutaminase, aside from tGT-2, including type 3, which is primarily found in the skin, and type 6, which is primarily found in the brain and nervous system tissue.

If this is you, the gluten you eat may affect your brain or your skin, or maybe your muscle, but you will be completely missed by conventional testing. I emphasize – just because the two markers your conventional doc tests your for come back negative, it does not mean you are not free from wheat related damage. Also, just because you do not have symptoms you think are related to wheat, doesn’t mean you are free from its (potential) body-wide damage.

How do I find out?

Enter Cyrex Array 3 testing. It is the most comprehensive form of wheat sensitivity testing available today. It involves a simple blood test and will test for the two markers your conventional doctor sends for plus 22 other markers.  You’ll have to confirm this at time of testing as pricing can vary. You will need an appointment with Dr. Laura M Brown, ND, Certified Gluten Practitioner, before and after your test. Dr. Laura will help interpret the test and proved direction for next steps. Dr. Laura has extended training in diagnosing and treating gluten related disorders.

Now it is important to note that Cyrex Array 3 will not diagnose Celiac, only the gold standard of positive intestinal biopsy will prove that, but it can tell you how strong the markers related to Celiac or other forms of non-celiac gluten sensitive (NCGS).

 

Here’s what the test results look like:

 

Test Prep:

 

This is a blood test that measures antibodies. As such, in order to improve the accuracy of

your test results, you must ensure adequate exposure to wheat beginning 25 to 30 days

before you schedule your blood draw.

Exposure to wheat allows your body to form antibodies if you do have sensitivity. Avoiding wheat before this test could cause a false negative result, meaning that the test states you are not sensitive to wheat when you actually are intolerant.

 

 

For more information visit www.cyrexlabs.com or book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND at Forward Health.

 

Dr. Phil Shares: What To Eat To Shed The Pounds

 There’s no getting around it — if you want to lose weight, your nutrition game needs to be on point. As the saying goes, you can’t outrun a bad diet.

But, there’s nothing worse than suffering through a diet that makes you miserable — especially when you still don’t see the results you want. Many fad diets are based on rules that are easy to memorize — No starchy carbs! Fast for 16 hours every day! — but are impossible to sustain.

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Eating healthy isn’t supposed to be a temporary blip. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it takes commitment.

If that sounds daunting, it’s probably because you’re used to diets that kind of suck. But they don’t have to. Eating healthy isn’t about swearing off your favorite foods and nibbling on kale leaves all day. It’s about learning to fuel your body the right way and understand how to eat so you can lose weight without feeling deprived.

One of the most important lessons you can learn from losing weight successfully is how to eat healthfully. For the rest of your life.

We favor nutritionally balanced, long-term approaches to weight loss, but the truth of the matter is that counting calories, calculating macros, monitoring portion sizes, or even cleansing may or may not help you lose weight for a variety of reasons, many of which have to do with sustainability.

So, we’re not going to provide you with a list of 25 foods to eat that are “good” for weight loss. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out the detailed recommended food and beverage lists in the Beachbody Portion Fix Eating Plan or any Beachbody program nutrition guide.

But keep in mind that these are just places to start your healthy eating education. We want to drive home the facts that it’s your weight to lose, it’s your preferences, and it’s your life that should help guide you to what you should eat — not only to lose weight, but also to live a more vivacious life.

This isn’t to say that you won’t need to retrain your palate to accept whole foods without much adornment (ie., lots of added salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats), or that you won’t need to sacrifice the richness of some of your favorite comfort foods (we’re looking at you, mac and cheese) for healthier, slimmed-down versions, or that you won’t need to trim back on portion sizes. You will likely need to do all of these things in order to lose weight.

But, the key mindset to embrace is that you do have choices. You ultimately get to determine what will and won’t go into your weekly meal plans. What you eat to lose weight shouldn’t be all that different from what you eat to maintain your health after you shed the excess pounds. So, yes, you’ll likely need to cut calories to lose weight, but you’ll also need to learn how to eat differently to maintain your results.

No matter which way you prefer to cut calories, you should focus on improving the quality of the calories you do ingest first and foremost. We’ve reduced it to three simple steps you can start today to maximize the calories you do consume when you want to lose weight.

3 STEPS TO
SHED POUNDS

 and Eat Healthy
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 1. Drink water first and most.

When you’re trying to lose weight, cleaning up your diet also means watching what you drink. If done right, juices or shakes can be healthy weight-loss tools to enhance your nutrition plan, and Shakeology is a good way to assure you’re getting plenty of nutrients when eating at a deficit (or anytime!). Just try to keep your calories from beverages to a minimum (most Shakeology varieties contain about 160 calories per scoop).

Of course, water is calorie-free and incredibly good for you. Beachbody recommends you drink your body weight, divided by two, in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds — that would be 150 divided by 2, which equals 75. That’s 75 ounces of water you should be drinking every day. To a die-hard soda drinker (even a diet soda drinker) or someone who doesn’t think about hydration much at all, this might seem like a lot of extra trips to the bathroom. To make all that plain water more palatable, try:

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  • Carbonated water. Try flavored varieties without added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and caloriesUnsweetened tea. Use caffeine-free tea if desired, and spruce up the flavor with lemon or lime slices, or muddled fruit
  • Adding sliced citrus, cucumbers, strawberries, pineapples, or fresh mint leaves
  • Adding citrus peels
  • Flavoring with natural combos: ginger + cucumber + mint, or pineapples + orange peel, or strawberries + kiwi + basil.

Your mom may have told you as a 5-year-old not to fill your belly with liquid so you’d eat some dinner, but feel free to defy that rule as an adult. In fact, one study published in the journal Obesity asked 84 obese adults to either drink two cups of plain water before their main meals every day for three months, or to imagine the feeling of being full. Those who drank water before their meals lost about 2.6 pounds more than those who didn’t. These findings suggest that drinking water before your meals may be an easy way to take the edge off hunger, and possibly stop you from eating too much.

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2. Replace refined, processed foods with whole ones.

It may seem obvious that in order to lose weight and eat healthier, you need to cut way back on fried foods, creamy casseroles, and sugary confections, but it may seem less obvious what to eat instead.

As much as possible, try to cut back on highly processed foods, such as frozen meals, packaged snacks, sugar-laden cereals, bottled sauces, meats with added preservatives, etc. Instead, choose whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, lean proteins (ie., chicken, turkey, eggs, tempeh), healthy fats (ie., avocados, hummus, extra-virgin olive oil, nut butters), and whole grains (ie., oatmeal, barley, whole-grain bread, brown rice).

Whole foods provide nutrient-dense fuel that contribute to greater satiety (when compared to processed foods).

The naturally occurring fiber, water (in foods like fruits and vegetables), or protein in these foods can contribute to an increased feeling of satisfaction — often with less food (read: fewer calories).

Protein can help you feel satiated longer than carbohydrates or fat. This may be due to increased thermogenesis (the metabolic process of your body burning calories), which influences that physiological “I’m satisfied” feeling you have after consuming higher amounts of protein.

Fiber, a form of carbohydrate found in plants that humans lack the enzyme to digest, helps us feel fuller on fewer calories. A food diary analysis of successful MyFitnessPal (MFP) users (defined as those who came within five percent of their goal weights) revealed the faithful food trackers who came closest to their goals ate 30 percent more fiber. That may seem like a lot, but really the difference was only three grams per day more than other MFP users — the equivalent of having one small apple or swapping a traditional English muffin for a whole wheat one.

3. Add volume with vegetables.

Volumetrics is a way of eating that may help you feel satisfied by consuming foods with low calorie density, or less calories for any given amount. It’s essentially a fancy way of telling people to eat the majority of their calories from mostly vegetables and fruits.

Low calorie density foods such as apples are higher in fiber and water, so you’re able to eat more in volume for a similar amount of calories (compared to a higher calorie density food such as apple pie). There’s evidence to say that fiber helps you feel fuller faster, and keeps you satiated long after you eat. A small study did find that water incorporated into food (as in the case of soup) did help subjects eat less, but not if that same amount of water was served in a glass on the side.

One study confirms that when people eat foods low in energy density, their total daily calories are significantly less than when they eat foods high in energy density.

If you’re hoping that eating more whole foods will help you lose weight, you’ll want to eat these foods in lieu of processed foods, not in addition to them. Because, in the end, weight loss generally boils down to eating fewer calories.

Dr. Phil Shares: A Beginner’s Guide to Weightlifting

A Beginner’s Guide to Weightlifting

When you decide to add strength training to your workout routine, knowing where to start can be tricky. And once you get going, knowing how to progress can be even trickier. After all, most weight-room newbies are unsure of their strength and, in turn, how to push it to its limits. How heavy of a dumbbell should I choose? How many sets and reps should I do? When should I move up to heavier weights?

 

How Do You Build Muscle?

Simply put, you get stronger by stressing your muscles, giving them enough time to recover, and then stressing them again. That’s because, every time you place a demand on your body that’s heavier or harder than what it’s used to, you create microscopic tears in the worked muscle tissue. Then, those tears heal, the muscle incorporates new structural and contractile proteins, coming back just slightly stronger and better able to handle even heavier loads. Eventually, the exercise that was once incredibly challenging becomes easy and it’s time to increase the stress so that the process can happen again, and muscle growth continues.

The best way to get started is to pick up a weight that you can perform three sets of 10 reps with each exercise, so you’re lifting the weight 30 times, with a couple minutes of rest time between sets.

How Do I Progress in Weightlifting?

As you get stronger, you have three options regarding how to progress:

  1. First, you can lift the same number of sets and reps and just increase your weight. For example, if after a couple weeks of lifting, you can easily do three sets of 10 reps lifting 10-pound dumbbells, then pick up 15-pounders and do the same program, and then repeat this process.
  2. A second option is to increase sets and decrease reps, such as four sets of six reps. You would choose this option if you want to make big jump in weight, let’s say from 10 to 20 pounds, since you may not be able to lift 20 pounds more than six times. Also, the heavier your weight, the more rest you need between sets in order for your muscles to recover.
  3. A third option is to keep the same weight and do more reps, which may be your option if you only have one weight to work with.

If you’re working out in your home gym and don’t have multiple weights to choose from, you can still progress in a few different ways. First, changing how you’re gripping the weight will engage different muscles. You can also change the pace in which you lift, such as slowing down the eccentric phase of the exercise (i.e. when you lower the dumbbell in a bicep curl). Lastly, you can decrease the amount of time you rest in between sets.

What’s Your Weight-Training Goal: Muscle Strength, Endurance, or Size?

To keep your workouts progressing in the right direction, it’s important to be clear about your goal. Here are recommendations for building muscle strength, endurance, and size, according to the Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 4th Edition.

  1. Muscle Strength

If you want to increase your muscle strength, you’ll want to perform low repetition sets in which you’re lifting a weight that’s close to your one rep max (1RM), which is the most you can possibly lift in a given exercise with good form. For example, you might perform two to six sets of six or fewer reps, lifting a weight that is 85 percent or more of your IRM, with two to five minutes of rest between sets. If you’re able to lift seven or more reps, then you need to increase your weight.

Note: While determining your 1RM is a great way to understand your strength abilities, any testing should be performed under a certified trainer’s supervision. 

  1. Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle, or group of muscles, to perform continuously without fatigue. For muscular endurance, decrease your weight, up your number of reps, and reduce the amount of rest between sets. For example, perform two to six sets of six or fewer reps using 85 percent or more of your 1RM, with two to five minutes of rest between sets.

  1. Muscular Size

To build muscle size, or hypertrophy, you’ll want to increase your number of sets, but with heavier weights and lift as many reps as you can while maintaining good form. Again, when you lose proper form, that is where you stop and make an adjustment. For example, perform three to six sets of six to 12 reps, using 67 to 85 percent of your 1RM, with 30 to 90 seconds of rest between sets. With those heavier weights, you’ll need a bit more rest in between sets. Once you hit 12 reps with good form, it’s time to pick up a heavier weight and go back to lifting 6 reps.

Speaking of bulk, let’s get real for a second: for women, there is a stigma around “getting bulky.” While women are slowly starting to embrace weight lifting, others worry that they will turn into the Hulk the second they pick up a dumbbell. The truth is that most women can’t get bulky even if they wanted to since, compared to men, they have roughly 15 to 20 times lower testosterone — a hormone that plays a large part in bulking up. So, while women can enjoy similar gains in muscle strength compared to men with weight training, most won’t notice a significant gain in muscle size due to genetics and hormones. (Plus, if a woman has a lot of fat to lose, she may actually get smaller in her waist and thighs since lifting weights increases metabolism.)

As you experiment with these variables (weights, sets, reps, and rest between sets), remember they are interdependent, so if you change one, you need to adjust the others. For example, if you lift a weight at the upper end of the range (85 percent of your 1RM), you’re going to perform fewer sets of fewer reps and take more rest than if you were to lift a weight at the lower end of the range (67 percent of your 1RM).

When To Pick Up a Heavier Weight

Once you consider a previously challenging workout easy, you are no longer stimulating muscle growth, you’re doing a recovery workout.

So what does “easy” actually feel like? The best way to know when you’re ready to increase exercise stress — whether by lifting heavier weights, adding reps, or decreasing rest time between sets—is to track your workouts, and focus on your form. Stephen Graef, Ph.D., a sports psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, suggests taking notes on your sets, reps, rest times, and how you feel for each workout. This way, you’re able to track your progress.

Focusing on your form can help you know when you’re ready for more. You should always use the heaviest weight that will allow you to perform all of your reps with good form. Let’s say you lose proper form at the 8th rep of your bicep curl workout, don’t go any further and jot down a note that you lost form at the 8th rep. When it’s time to do bicep curls again, see if you can perform more than 8 reps with good form. Once you’re able to accomplish all 10 reps with perfect form, and your last few reps of an exercise feel similar to your first few, it’s time to pick up a heavier weight.

Joel Freeman, C.P.T., co-creator of Beachbody’s CORE DE FORCE says, “No matter your strength-training experience or what workout you’re doing, improving your form is a huge marker of progress.” When learning new moves, Freeman recommends looking at yourself in a mirror, or even filming yourself working out, so you can go back to analyze and improve your form.

In his own workouts, Freeman ups the weight based on his ability to get through his last rep without any help from a spotter. As soon as he can do that, he pushes himself even harder. If you don’t have a spotter to keep yourself safe when you’re pushing yourself to your max, many trainers recommend progressing your weight when you can perform two extra reps during your exercise’s last two sets. “If you can do two extra reps in your last set of a given exercise in two consecutive workouts, then you’re ready to progress,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody Senior Fitness Content Manager. “That’s called the ‘Two for Two Rule’.”

P90X trainer Tony Horton recommends lifting the heaviest you can for six to 10 reps, and when you can do 12 reps at that weight, move to the next heavier weight and go back to six reps.

Again, going up in weight isn’t the only way to progress. Thieme recommends trying out the other options, such as decreasing the rest period, changing the grip of the weight so that different muscles engage, or moving from dumbbells to a barbell.

Are You Pushing Yourself Too Hard?

With all this pushing, it’s important to remember that it’s during the recovery process that your muscle tissues actually become stronger, bigger, and fitter. And there’s a fine line between pushing hard and getting the results you want versus pushing so hard that you actually hamper muscle growth.

So how do you know if you’re overtraining? Physical symptoms include experiencing excessive fatigue, chronic soreness, more frequent injuries, and even illness. Mental symptoms include reduced motivation, irritability, and depression.

Again, this is where tracking your workouts comes in handy. If you lift significantly less weight for two weeks in a row, then you might be pushing too hard and not building muscle properly.

On recovery days, Freeman suggests stretching or foam rolling, or light cardio such as jogging, walking, or hiking. One study showed that 20 minutes of light cardio on the recovery day helped women who lifted weights reduce muscle soreness.

Remember, every person is different. When you’re starting a new weight training regimen, it will take some time to understand the cues your body is telling you. Graef says, “Over time, you’ll learn to listen to your body, and know when to push and when to pull back.”

A great way to get into weight lifting is to sign up for Beachbody On Demand and check out programs that incorporate strength training, such as A WEEK OF HARD LABORBody BeastSHIFT SHOPP90XThe Master’s Hammer and Chisel, and 21 Day Fix.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Reduce Holiday Stress!

How to Reduce Holiday Stress

The topic I’m going to address today is how to handle holiday stress with greater ease.

If you think about it, we could make “holiday stress” a great opportunity to teach us how to manage “any time” stress. A great place to start is having our priorities straight so you’re clear on what matters and what doesn’t.

5 Tips for Holiday Stress Relief:

1. Write in your journal

Now is a good time to sit down, take a deep breath, and write in your journal to help you get organized and remember what the holidays are really about.

First, write down everything that needs to be handled. Then identify things that you can let go of or delegate to someone else. Even if you need to handle everything, taking the time to write it all down will help you feel less overwhelmed.

Now that you have written down and organized your to-do list, think to yourself, “What will be my state of ‘being’ while I’m doing all of these things? Will I be joyful or stressed, grateful or overwhelmed?” And, write a paragraph on this topic. Asking these questions is really important if you want the holidays to be something you actually enjoy. The busyness of the holidays doesn’t have to cause stress if you choose a calm and joyful way of being as you check off tasks from your to-do list.

Next, let’s get more specific. Write down how you would like certain aspects of the holidays to go. How would you like to experience cooking the holiday meal or having people over? While cooking, will you feel angry that you have to cook such a big meal, or curious and excited about making a new dish for your family? Or, while shopping, will you feel obligated or resentful that you have to buy for so many people, or grateful that you have the means to buy presents to begin with?

Now, make two columns in your journal. In one column, write the names of the people you are buying gifts for. In the second column, write what you are grateful for about this person. Leave out all the things they have or haven’t done, or what they’ve said or didn’t say – all of that ultimately doesn’t mean anything. Instead, write how they contribute positively to your life. Then take this list with you shopping so that the present you purchase is an expression of your appreciation for them. This can help you remember what the holidays are really about: celebration and gratitude for our friends and family.

2. Keep things in perspective

Rather than truly celebrating family and friends, we often get caught up in how things “look.” We worry about the holiday cards, or whether our hair and outfits look alright, or if we ordered enough pies for everyone. When you start to spiral into worry, go back to your shopping list of names and why you’re grateful for these people – does it really matter if your hair looks perfect that day?

I’m not saying to show up to your holiday events in your pajamas, but by choosing what you focus on, you can allow whether a certain situation will create stress or joy within you. Are you going to focus on whether your outfit looks perfect or focus on the joy you experience with your cousin who you haven’t seen in a while? You have a choice. Consciously choosing gratitude and joy will create positive situations and bring you closer to those you love.

And, if you’ve mastered this level of focused decision-making during the holidays, you can easily apply it throughout the year when there are less distractions.

3. Consider the past

Here is another topic to write about in your journal: What are the memories that get stirred up during the holidays? Which memories create a clenching in the pit of your stomach, or a fear-based emotion, or that feeling of “here we go again.” What creates that in you? Write them all down, be very real about it. Don’t let your mind take hold of the negative emotion and spiral you down into the same old pattern – nothing will change that way.

So write these memories down in your journal and what they stir up in you, then write whether they really matter in the grand scheme of things – get some perspective. And then consider whether you should communicate with someone so that this pattern doesn’t happen again, or just let it go. In either case, make that change internally to change that pattern. Do it now before it’s too late and suddenly it’s Christmas Eve and the same situation occurs. Also, write down enjoyable holiday memories and prioritize doing those activities again this year.

4. Learn to say “no”

If you have always lived the holidays with great stress, but have not done anything about it (as if the outside world will suddenly shift for you and make it all good), then nothing will change because at the end of the day nothing and nobody makes you feel in any way other than how you choose to feel, what you choose to allow in your field. That is very important to remember.

Because there are so many challenges, the holidays present so many amazing opportunities to take control of your life and to empower yourself. Let’s say you’ve cooked the turkey for your family for 30 years but never enjoyed the task, this is your opportunity to finally say “no.” You’re not a victim, you don’t owe anything, so don’t disempower yourself. If you don’t like having 50 people over every Hanukkah, but you allow it to happen because you’re not willing to experience the consequences of saying “no,” then you are allowing resentment to exist in you, once again. Am I saying that changing a pattern is easy? Of course not, but you must always remember that your life is under your control.

If spending quality time with your husband and children during the holidays is important to you, then make the time. Be more organized about the shopping, start way ahead as opposed to waiting to the last minute. Choose the events that you want to attend, and say “no” to the rest. Be empowered in what you are deciding to celebrate this year.

5. Make it a holiday for YOU

It is crucial for your well-being to learn what is important to you, and to prioritizing these things during the chaotic holiday season. It’s important to be very real and honest about the things that you never enjoy doing and yet, you still do them over and over again. You allow these situations to destroy your peace every single year. What is up with that? What would happen if you spoke up and said, “stop”? Make the holidays something different this year; make it a holiday for you, for how you feel.

Every day of this celebration, actually celebrate by having the courage to eliminate that which is not important to you. This allows a clearing for what does bring you joy. For example, if you’re not spending days in the kitchen preparing a meal for 50 people, you’ll have more time to play games with your children.

Try it and do your best not to feel obligated. If you feel guilty, engage with that experience with compassion and kindness for yourself. Remember, everybody is caught in the whirlwind of the holidays and the guilt of it all. We are all doing the best we can, so it’s nobody’s fault. But, you are in charge of what this holiday season could be for you and your family.

So, I invite you to be in a state of celebration for yourself this holiday season. In your journal, write: “What if this holiday was exactly what I wanted it to be. What would that look like? What if I had the courage to sit down with my family and discuss what we wanted to do and what we did not want to do this year?” Wouldn’t that be nice?

With these intentional actions – which are ultimately actions of love for yourself and the people who are important to you – you can make this year a true celebration, a true holiday, a true honoring of each other, peace, joy, and well-being. I hope this was helpful, thank you.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares:6 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain at Holiday Parties

6 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain at Holiday Parties

First, remember that there’s no better time of year to remind yourself of why you want to lose weight in the first place. Your friends and family care about you and want you to succeed. They want you to be happy, healthy, and on your way to becoming the person you want to be in 2018!

Also, seeing your loved ones at these gatherings is a great reminder that the holidays are about so much more than the food. Those delicious dishes and desserts are just tokens of the love you share among the most important people in your life. When you focus on what really matters, it’s not so hard to let a treat or two pass you by.

In fact, there’s no reason you can’t successfully lose weight (or at least maintain your weight) during the holidays. But it helps to have the right mindset — and a plan — for getting through holiday meals and parties keeping your weight-loss goals intact.

6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain:

1. Eat a filling breakfast and lunch

Don’t starve yourself before the big meal! You may think you’re “saving up calories,” but the hungrier you are when you arrive, the more likely you are to make poor food choices and wind up eating more than you might have otherwise. Start the day with a healthy, satisfying breakfast and a reasonable lunch, so you won’t be ravenous by the time the holiday meal is served.

2. Avoid “grazing” before and after the meal

Whatever time your family typically sits down at the table to eat (our holiday mealtime is around 4pm) — hors d’oeuvres, snacks, cocktails, and even desserts are often passed around before and after the meal for guests to “graze” on. To avoid overindulging, I set the time when I plan to start eating, as well as the time when I will stop. Then, once I get up and leave the table, I move on to other activities, such as reminiscing with grandma or playing with the kids. Just like I tell my clients — “Dinner and done… find other fun!”

3. Prioritize your treats

We all look forward to treating ourselves during the holidays, but all those temptations can quickly become overwhelming! When I’m at a holiday party, I scan the entire table of food first, and then choose the two or three that I want the most — the ones that are most likely to make the night feel extra-special. Then, I take my time and savor each bite!

4. How do you want to feel as you’re leaving?

Before even arriving at the party (and perhaps once again before taking your first bite), imagine how you want to feel when it’s time to leave. Stuffed like a turkey? Or happy, satisfied, and proud of yourself for keeping your goals on track? You’ll be amazed at how powerful this mental exercise can be in allowing you to enjoy the gathering to the fullest without overindulging.

5. Be active

Try building a healthy activity into your day, whether it’s a hike or a neighborhood game of touch football. Last year, my family and I laced up our hiking boots and hit the trail before dinner! If you’re giving gifts, think about toys and games that promote an active lifestyle. If you’re too old for toys (is anyone too old for toys?), then get out there and play with your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or even your pet.

6. Incorporate healthy food swaps

If I’m hosting the party — or even contributing a dish for the table — I like to share traditional dishes made using healthy food swaps designed to be every bit as filling and delicious as the originals. Greek yogurt makes a creamy stand-in for mayo in dressings and pasta salads. Mashed cauliflower rather than potatoes for a healthy swap that still tastes delicious (for the skeptics, try half-and-half cauliflower and potatoes). “Noodles” made with veggies are another big hit in our house. And for dessert, I serve cinnamon-spiced baked apples, either by themselves or topped with a little dollop of whipped cream, to satisfy apple-pie cravings.

Most of all, be sure to stay positive! If things don’t go exactly as planned, don’t beat yourself up. Just stay focused on your goal and the weight loss will follow. There are plenty of weight-loss days ahead in 2018! And I’ll have lots more helpful advice to share with you when the 2B Mindset launches. Meanwhile, together with the entire Beachbody community, I want to wish you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health