<![CDATA[mcinnesfitness.com - 90 Days to a HEALTHY Summer Challenge]]>Mon, 18 Jan 2016 12:16:16 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Challenge Recap - Set Your Own Health Goal:]]>Wed, 24 Jun 2015 02:08:50 GMThttp://mcinnesfitness.weebly.com/90-days-to-a-healthy-summer-challenge/challenge-recap-set-your-own-health-goalI cannot believe the 90 Days to a HEALTHY Summer Challenge is over. I hope you have learned a lot about yourself, health and fitness along the way. May that knowledge take you to bigger and better things. When something ends it's the beginning of a new adventure. This was an amazing challenge, I personally discovered some of my own weaknesses, created habits I'd love to do for a life time and  learned a lot from you. Now that the challenge is over, be proud of what you have accomplished! I have one last challenge for you... set your own personal health goal. One of my favorite quotes is; "Don't go through life without goals".

Think about something you have always wanted to do. Run a 5K? Complete a triathlon? Walk everyday? Make more meals at home? Eat a more plant-based diet? Lose weight? Gain muscle? Get a PR (Personal Best) during a race? Live life to the fullest? Think really hard and pick a goal that excites you! Something that once you put your mind to it, you can't stop thinking about it and there is no stopping you. 

When creating a goal make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. Goals:
Specific – target a specific area for improvement
Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
Assignable – specify who will do it.
Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved. (Wikipedia)


During this challenge we have explored and practiced the following habits:

1. Hydration
2. Sit Less
3. Sleep 7-9 Hours per Night
4. Eat Naturally Colorful Foods
5. Posture
6. Get Moving
7. Meditation
8. Read Labels
9. Exercise part II (move more)
10. Food Groups
11. Be Grateful
12. Stretch 
13. Set Health Goal(s)

Please share your goal and action plan with me and our community. Know that if you need any help, I am here. Have a happy and healthy life. You deserve it!!
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<![CDATA[Gratitude]]>Tue, 09 Jun 2015 01:57:30 GMThttp://mcinnesfitness.weebly.com/90-days-to-a-healthy-summer-challenge/graditudeLife is so short that I don't want to take anything for granted and unless I step back and acknowledge all the great things in my life, I could miss something. The same goes for you too. We all need to make time to not only bring intention to our existence but most importantly, we need to bring awareness and gratitude to our daily activities. In my opinion, the most powerful way to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life is to be grateful for what we have. Just going through life, is not truly living... you might as well have blinders on. The worst thing of all is letting negative things control your mind, life, actions and health.  The people who live life to the fullest are the ones who take time to acknowledge even the small things. People who show gratitude are less stressed, more happy and healthier than ones who don't. I'm not saying you'll never have a bad day or need to vent but the more you appreciate, the less the negative things will matter. Life is not easy for anyone but if we dwell on the negative, we not only make it harder for ourselves but for our loved ones too. I don't believe that misery loves company, it is more like misery is an infectious disease and spreads if we are not careful. That is why I have challenged you to practice gratitude every day and give your life a more meaningful and positive perspective. We can't let the negative things trump all that is good, life is too precious. 

Showing thanks is not just for Thanksgiving. I had read about Buddhist communities and other religions that practice gratitude during EVERY meal. I love this idea!  Meal time is the best time to take a step back, look at your life and be grateful. Turn off television, radio, podcast, put down your phone and make sure your table is clear of any distractions (work assignments, homework, laptop, books, mail...). The only thing that sits before you should be your meal, dishes and silverware.  Before you begin to eat, take a deep breath and look at the meal that sits before you. Enjoy a moment of peace, acknowledgment and gratitude. Be aware of all the hard work that went into getting that meal there and thank everyone who helped get it there... the farmers, the packers, the shippers, the animals, the land, as well as all you and your family's hard work. The majority of Americans today are lucky to not have to experience starvation and malnutrition, yet a lot of us take that for granted. We often overeat because we don't pay attention to what we are consuming. When we take the time to be in the moment, it'll help us eat less and it enjoy it more.

Other great benefits we will enjoy are reduced stress, decrease risk of heart disease and some cancers. It'll lower blood pressure, increase self esteem, plus improve relationships with yourself, loved ones and your environment. Life is truly a miracle and I am thankful to have my health, family, friends, this challenge, my home, my career, my freedom, food, clean water, fresh air... I could keep going, but I want you to take the time to reflect what you are grateful for?


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<![CDATA[Week 9: Exercise Part Two]]>Sun, 07 Jun 2015 16:32:42 GMThttp://mcinnesfitness.weebly.com/90-days-to-a-healthy-summer-challenge/week-9-exercise-part-twoThis is a reminder to how important exercise is, I like to call it, Exercise Part II. It's time to be honest with yourself and if you have been exercising everyday. If you have, great! If not, don't worry. Now is the time to get focused again. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, there is always room for improvement. 

Interval training is a fun way to mix things up. Here is a great beginner's guide to get you started...


http://www.mensfitness.com/training/workout-routines/beginners-guide-interval-training


It's fun to even challenge yourself during a walk or run with fast burst.

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<![CDATA[Week 8: Food Labels "Be the hunter. Not the Hunted."]]>Thu, 14 May 2015 18:25:42 GMThttp://mcinnesfitness.weebly.com/90-days-to-a-healthy-summer-challenge/week-8-food-labels-be-the-hunter-not-the-huntedAs I was starting to write this blog, I had Dr. Oz playing in the background and heard the guest say "Be the hunter. Not the hunted." I'm not 100% sure what they were talking about but instantly wanted to change the title of this blog. Although we do not hunt like our ancestors did or other species do, we do go into a grocery store where food companies are hunting for us to buy their products with false or exaggerated claims on the front of their packages. To become the hunter we need to turn those packages around so we know what it is we are really buying. We have already started to explore the ingredients list looking for artificial colors. Now I challenge you to read and understand the nutritional panel.

The front of the package is prime marketing real estate for manufactures and some of the terms they put on the front are not regulated. The nutritional label however is fact. The panel is set up in order of nutrients/information you want to make sure you don't over indulge on (serving size, calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium) to ones you want to make sure you get enough of (fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron).  

The first thing you'll want to look at is the number of servings in a package because the nutritional information is based on a serving… not the entire package. Often times a package seems small enough to be one serving but it’s multiple. For example a can of soup is 2.5 servings.

The next item on our list is calories which is a measurement of energy. If you do not burn all the calories you are consuming, it can contribute to obesity.  Empty calories affect your metabolism on a molecular level.  That is why quality is so important to know what you are eating; it helps your body work efficiently.

When it comes to saturated fat and cholesterol keep as low as possible. And trans fat... avoid it like the plague. Some foods may list that there is 0 trans fat but you'll want to look at the ingredients list for the word "hydrogenated" and "partially-hydrogenated" to insure you are avoiding it completely. Companies manipulate serving sizes to get the number of trans fat below the required minimum to report.  In "The Engine 2 Diet" author Rip Esselstyn recommends keeping the fat to 25% or less of the food's total calories. To calculate take the total grams of fat multiple by 9 (number of calories in 1 gram of fat) and divide it by total calories. The foods you don't have to worry about calculating are nuts, seeds, greens, grains,fruit and vegetables because they do not have added/processed fats therefore contain fats that are healthier for you.

The % daily value on a nutritional panel is based on a 2000 calorie diet. In “The Engine 2 Diet”, Rip writes, “An easy rule of thumb to control sodium: Limit the amount of sodium per serving to the number of calories per serving - and of course the fewer, the better." I love this rule because it is quick and easy.  In this book Rip also mentions that the Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume 1,200 - 1,500 milligrams. The average American consumes 4000 milligrams. When you see labels stating that an item has reduced sodium, this does not mean that it is low sodium and often times reduced sodium foods are still extremely high.

With all the processed food that hit the market on a daily basis the less fiber is being consumed by Americans. Fiber is a carbohydrate that the body isn't able to break down. Its acts like a brush and helps eliminate waste and toxins from our bodies.  Whole foods are a great place for fiber. Also when you look at the ingredients list on anything containing wheat, make sure the first ingredient contains the word “WHOLE” Wheat; Not “Refined”, “bleached”, “unbeached”, “multi-grain”  or the word “wheat” by itself means, processed with the fiber and nutrients removed.

Lobbyists are fighting to have the government demand that companies show added sugars vs natural sugars. I hope that we will soon see this happen. Natural sugars occur in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes and because they also have fiber and other nutrients they are healthy. Added sugar just adds empty calories, no nutrients and negatively affects your body. To see if a food contains added sugar, you'll have to look at the ingredients list for  fructose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, evaporated cane juice, evaporated cane juice syrup, beet juice, honey, barley malt, basically anything that ends in -ose... the list goes on and on. There are over 50 different sugars companies add to processed foods. Ingredients are in order by weight.  Other “fun” game food industries play is including 5 different types sugar in one food so that when people glance at the ingredients list, it is not one of the first items listed but sugar is really the main ingredient.

I know this may seem like a lot of information but the more you read labels, the easier it gets. When I began to discover some of the tricks that the food industry plays, I was upset and felt helpless. I have since turned that knowledge into power. The more we are educated, the better choices we can make. Not saying we need to eat perfectly 100% of the time but we should know what we are eating and eat healthy most of the time.

So read those labels while you are standing or sitting (less), keep an eye on those artificial colors too. Staying hydrated, sleeping 7-9 hours a night, meditating and exercising daily will help you stay focused as you explore labels.  

For a list of 57 checkout the slide show provided by Prevention .

Check out FDA's (Food and Drug Administration) Nutritional Facts Label Programs & Materials for more information. 

You are never too young to learn about labels. If you have children, check out the Youth Outreach Campaign for Nutritional Facts.
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<![CDATA[Week 7: Meditation]]>Thu, 07 May 2015 18:59:19 GMThttp://mcinnesfitness.weebly.com/90-days-to-a-healthy-summer-challenge/week-7-meditationMeditation has been around for thousands and thousands of years. It's interesting to me that people instinctively knew that meditation was beneficial to our health and well being before there were scientists and documentation. Meditation was (and still is today) practiced to enhance enlightenment. According to Wikipedia enlightenment means "full comprehension of a situation". Today, research has shown us that meditation has many health benefits and people practice for a number of reasons.  Meditation manages symptoms of many diseases, especially ones that worsen with stress. Some of these diseases include; anxiety disorder, depression, asthma, cancer, obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure. It reduces pain, and problems with sleep. It builds skills that help you manage stress, increases self-awareness, brings you to the present, reduces negative thoughts, sharpens the mind, increases confidence and simply relaxes you. Meditation also helps you improve your relationship with yourself and others.

 A few years ago a yoga instructor said to me "If you can control your breath, you can control anything." and it really resonated with me. In the moment it helped me feel empowered to get through my practice.  When I am feeling stressed, I stop what I am doing, close my eyes, take a slow deep breath and silently tell myself "If I can control my breath, I can control anything." Sometimes I have to repeat it a few times before the calming effect kicks in but soon I am able to continue what I was doing with a new perspective. I knew this was a form of meditation but until recently I didn't know it was called Mantra Meditation. There are so many types of meditation from Guided, Mindfulness, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Active, Transcendental, Visualization to Yoga.

I have personally had my life changed through meditation. Some of you are going to be shocked to read this but I used to smoke cigarettes. I started when I was about 15 years old and quit in my early 20's. In my mind, it was cool, social and helped to relieve stress, (N0W I meditate for those same reasons but there are no negative side-affects).  I am sure my mom knew I smoked but it was something I did my best to hide from her. Little does she know, I quit smoking because of a gift she had given me right after I graduated from college. It was a meditation course at an amazing retreat. In the beginning, I would smoke to and from the retreat. It wasn't until the end of the course that I had an epiphany. I had the best meditation session I had ever had and as I walked to my car, the air smelled sweeter than it ever had before. The color of the sun setting was mesmerizing as it reflected off the trees and grass. I could feel the air softly brush the hairs on my arms... I felt alive. It was a euphoria that is hard to describe but every time I picture it, I am back in that moment. When I got to my car, I grabbed my cigarettes and as I was about to light it, I thought to myself. "What the heck am I doing?  How can I go from using breath to bring health and awareness into my life and then light a cigarette to use smoke filled breath to destroy it?" I never smoked again.

You don't need to go to a retreat to practice or reap the benefits from meditation. It can be done almost anywhere... It’s best to practice in a quiet place or use soothing music or white noise but you can meditate while walking, running, sitting, laying, at home, at work, in a park, at a studio and so on. The most important elements to meditation is controlling your breath, focusing your mind and making it a daily habit.  When I PULL up images of meditation, the majority of those images show someone sitting cross-legged but you do not have to sit cross legged, just make sure you are comfortable.

If you drink Yogi Tea, you’ll notice there are little yoga/meditation templates on every box. Here is an example of one called, “Yoga for serenity “:

Sit cross-legged or in a chair with spine straight and feet flat. Now, close your eyes and block right nostril with right hand. Take deep, slow breaths through the left nostril. Continue for 1 to 3 minutes. Let the positive and relaxing energy take over.

There’s an app for that!
Calm.com (free and pay versions)
Headspcace.com (10 free sessions)

In a podcast by Jeff Sander’s from 5am Miracle, he recommends making sure you put meditation in your schedule. He says that meditation is so easy to do which makes it easy not to do. Check out his short guided meditation, podcast about meditation and show notes. . http://jeffsanders.com/meditation   http://jeffsanders.com/090-meditation-for-people-who-cant-sit-still-podcast

So get into a comfortable position with great posture whether it is standing or sitting to meditate. You could even multi-task and meditate during your daily workout! Being hydrated and fueling with naturally colorful foods will also help bring clarity to your day. All these great activities should help you get 7-9 hours of sleep.   

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<![CDATA[Week 6: Posture]]>Wed, 29 Apr 2015 01:42:41 GMThttp://mcinnesfitness.weebly.com/90-days-to-a-healthy-summer-challenge/week-6-posture1When you think of someone who is confident, successful and a leader, do you picture them slouched over with their head down and shoulders rounded in? Of course not. You picture them standing tall, shoulders back and their head level. Body language is extremely important, physically and mentally. It sets the tone to how people view you and how you view yourself. It also helps to support your bones, protects your organs, strengthens muscles, joints and ligaments, plus it improves circulation. Good posture isn't only beneficial when we are standing but also when we are sitting, exercising and even sleeping. Basically if you do anything with bad posture it may cause you to be imbalanced and can cause more harm than good, physically and socially. Posture is one of those things we have to be aware of especially in the beginning but overtime it becomes second nature and is controlled subconsciously. That is why starting on April 27th, I challenged you to be aware of your posture. 
This challenge will make you look taller and thinner while improving your health. In fact, good posture literally makes you taller in the long run by slowing down the process of age-related shrinking and protecting your bone structure. When making good posture a priority, you are strength training your stabilizer muscles by activating your core, neck and shoulders. Good posture relieves stress and strain from your muscles and joints, it takes pressure away from your blood vessels, opens air passageways to improve breathing, protects your internal organs and increases energy levels. Studies have also shown that it boosts your immune system too.

You may think that it makes sense that good posture will make you look more confident. We see many great leaders stand tall. We even see animals in the animal kingdom use posture to get what they want. But how can it make you feel more confident? Researchers have tracked hormones through saliva samples in individuals as they are instructed to hold different poses consisting of good posture and bad posture. During these tests, they are also asked to do a series of tasks. When holding good posture, people took more risks and made quicker decisions. The saliva samples revealed that there was a temporary increase of testosterone (hormone associated with dominance) and decrease in cortisol (stress hormone) in both males and females. When asked to do tasks while holding bad posture the individuals were more nervous, didn't take risks and had a hard time making decisions. 

So in moments where you feel like you want to curl into a little ball, remember to stand tall and proud. Like they say "Fake it until you make it."  Before you know it, you may be more confident and healthier version of yourself. Good posture is life changing! It can be done while you are sitting less and sleeping more. You can also do it while you are exercising, staying hydrated and eating naturally colorful foods. Check out this great Guide to Good Posture for more details. I can't wait to hear your stories!! 

Good Posture

Find More at the Greatist Fitness Blog

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<![CDATA[Week 5: Exercise EVERY Day]]>Sun, 19 Apr 2015 17:08:56 GMThttp://mcinnesfitness.weebly.com/90-days-to-a-healthy-summer-challenge/week-5-exercise-every-dayThat's right... the title says EVERY Day. Most people are able to start or increase a workout routine without getting medical clearance but it is recommended to let your doctor know when you are getting ready to change your diet or exercise routine. 

Exercising isn't just about getting into bathing-suit shape or fitting into your favorite jeans, although those are great side-effects. When it comes to being motivated to exercise, it is great to have a short term goal such as a wedding, reunion, 5k or tri-athlon but once those events are over, what's going to keep you going? Is it enough to know that our bodies were made to exercise and when we do, we are highly rewarded?  Is it motivating to think about the health benefits such as boosting our immune system and metabolism? Can you be persuaded to exercise because it decreases risk and manages diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, arthritis and depression? What about the fact that it increases HDL "good" cholesterol as well as decreases triglycerides and blood pressure? And we can't forget that exercise increases bone density, preventing us from falling and strengthens our bones so if we do fall, we are less likely to break something. Personally, I exercise so I can live a long healthy active life with my loved ones while avoiding premature death and disease. We need to think about exercise as a lifestyle choice, not just something we suffer through to get to a short term goal. That's why starting on April 20th, I am challenging you to exercise everyday!

Believe it or not, exercise can be FUN! The best exercise is one that you are going to stick with. The list of activities we call exercise goes on and on; walking, running, Zumba, Yoga,  group fitness, strength training, cycling, swimming, dancing, hiking, kick-boxing, basketball, gardening, playing with your kids, golf, skiing...  I am sure you will be able to find something you enjoy. Not sure what you enjoy yet? Try different things! Know that just like the weather, our fitness has different seasons too. You may enjoy running for a period of time but then find you enjoy boot camp more and don't want to run. That's okay, as long as you keep moving and find the activity that is going to keep you going. It may help to find an accountability partner so you can keep each other on track and enjoy activities together and/or join a club/group fitness. But know that exercise can be done anywhere, alone and with or without fancy equipment. 

If you are just getting into exercise, you should set a goal to do 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, according to The Center for Disease Control. That's a  22-minute walk each day or a 20-minute walk for 6 days and 30 minute walk on Sunday (Stamina Sunday). Keep in mind that 150 minutes/week is the bare minimum to see health results. I know for some of you, that may sound like a lot. If it does, set a goal to exercise 10 minutes a day and add from there. Before you know it, you'll be setting goals and accomplishing things you never thought possible. If you are already doing 150 minutes/week, your goal should be to double that. As you set goals and improve your strength, endurance and speed, you will be amazed with what you are able to accomplish. It's our bodies way of thanking us for moving. 

During this challenge, get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Motivate others by sharing your workout selfies. Continue to stay hydrated, and fuel your workouts with colorful nutritional foods. Don't let your new exercise routine be an excuse to sit and enjoy the benefit of a better night's sleep from exercising. 


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<![CDATA[Week 4: Food Colors]]>Sat, 11 Apr 2015 03:27:42 GMThttp://mcinnesfitness.weebly.com/90-days-to-a-healthy-summer-challenge/week-4-food-colorsI know I am a nutrition nerd but I love reading nutritional labels. This week we are all going to focus on the nutritional label and scan the list of ingredients to make sure there are no artificial colors or dyes as we increase natural food colors in our diet. When I first became aware of the negative affects of dyes, I was surprised by how many foods contain them.  It might be obvious that brightly colored candies and sodas have artificial colors but they are also found in mac and cheese, pickles, pizza crust, nutritional bars, medication, oatmeal, yogurt and cereal; just to name a few. Artificial dyes do not have any health benefits and are in fact hazardous to your health causing cancer, obesity and ADHD in children. The only purpose for artificial colors is to trick us into eating and buying more food because it overrides our natural instincts. People are not only eating more processed foods but they are choosing them over natural whole foods. Starting on April 13th, I challenge you to enjoy a variety of naturally colorful food while reaping many health benefits and avoid artificial and natural dyes. 

Before this challenge starts, take inventory of your food and bring awareness to the different colors you consume. Explore the ingredients list to make sure there are no artificial dyes or colors. During this challenge, you'll begin to notice how much artificial dyes are in processed foods. These dyes are made in a lab with the same petroleum-based chemicals we use to fuel our vehicles and should not be in foods we use to fuel ourselves. It is not a new discovery that artificial dyes have been linked to ADHD in children, researchers have known this since the 70's. They have also known that these chemicals are a carcinogen (causes cancer) since the 80's. Yet, they are showing up more and more in processed foods, every day in the US. 


Other Countries have banned foods with artificial colors, yet companies such as Pepsi, Coke, Kraft and Mars Industries (maker of M&M's) still sell their products to these countries. How is that possible? They have a different recipe using natural food coloring such as beet juice and beta carotene when exporting. A package of M&Ms in the US is a lot brighter than a package of M&Ms in the UK.  I am trying not to get too political but feel that it is important to show you how dangerous these chemicals are. Not only that but supply and demand can control how our foods are prepared. By voting with our forks, we are not only making healthy choices for ourselves but we are building a better future for generations to come. 


A tip I used to tell people was to shop the perimeter of the grocery store because wholesome foods are found there but foods with artificial dyes are slowly finding their way there too. You'll still need to look at the ingredients list when shopping the perimeter. However, if you buy foods without a list of ingredients such as bulk foods (nuts, beans, and grains), vegetables, and fruit, you will save time, increase your daily colors and consume natural wholesome foods. 

There are no health benefits when it comes to artificial colors but there are a ton of health benefits when it comes to natural colors. Here is a list of a few from an article titled "Eat Colors Not Calories" written by Courtney Carver. 

Simple Color Nutritional Chart
Red for Lycopene, a cancer fighter
White/Green for antioxident flavinoids and Allicin, which has anti-tumor properties.
Yellow/Orange for vitamin C to support the immune system and Carotene for heart and vision health.
Blue/Purple for antioxidants to help protect cells from free radicals within the body. Antioxidants also helps to fight off aging, improves memory function, and can reduce the risks of some cancers. 
Green for cancer-fighting chemicals that can block carcinogens and promotes stronger bones and teeth.

How to get more colors into your diet:
Make Smoothies (If you make a "green" smoothie, you can count the colors of each ingredient!!)
Make Soups and salads (another great way to get a lot of colors in one meal)
Add  fruit and nuts to your cereals/oatmeal
Add berries to your pancakes
Add vegetables to sandwiches
Add vegetables to pasta dishes
Add fruits or veggies to your favorite recipes!
Scramble your eggs or tofu with fresh veggies

So continue to drink water, not sit for prolong periods of time, get a good night's sleep and have fun enjoying colorful foods while watching out for the impostors! Share recipes and the number of colors you consume each day.]]>
<![CDATA[Week 3: Sleep]]>Fri, 03 Apr 2015 04:00:01 GMThttp://mcinnesfitness.weebly.com/90-days-to-a-healthy-summer-challenge/week-3-sleepOur bodies are amazing machines, even when we are sleeping, it is working it's magic! But it needs 7 - 9 hours of quality sleep in order to do everything required to sustain a healthy life. We think that if we stay up burning the midnight oil, we can be more productive but studies have shown that the opposite is true. A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms making it hard to focus on tasks and deadlines. It interferes with our cognitive function and memory. If fact, it impairs our brain function so much that statistics show that driving drowsy is more dangerous than driving under the influence. A lack of sleep doesn't only put your health at risk but you are putting others in danger as well. Too much or too little sleep can have negative health effects, that's why I am going to challenge you to get your 7 - 9 hours of quality sleep every day/night, starting on April 6th and for the next 76 of days and beyond.

Getting the right amount of sleep will allow you to have less fatigue and have more stamina throughout the day. A lack of sleep interferes with your appetite making you feel more hungry causing you to overeat. I believe this is your body's way of trying to increase your energy level. Getting too little or too much sleep causes your body to become inflamed which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging and death. It also affects cardiovascular health, stress levels, blood pressure, cholesterol and depression.

To help balance your internal clock, its recommended to stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time, everyday, whether your schedule requires you to or not. Some people have a bedtime routine/ritual that helps them to relax. These rituals include; turning off all screens a couple hours before bedtime (TVs, computers and  phones) and doing activities such as meditation, reading, writing, taking a bath and aroma therapy. Having a regular exercise routine can also be very beneficial to getting better sleep. Just make sure it's not right before bed unless it's light yoga/stretching. Vigorous exercise increases energy levels and makes it hard to fall asleep if done within a few hours of your bedtime.

Food, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol can affect quality of sleep, therefore it is important to limit them, and not indulge in the evening. On average, caffeine can stay in your system for three to five hours. A nice warm cup of herbal tea (such as chamomile) would be a better alternative because it'll help you relax. Devices such as electric fans, air purifiers, humidifiers and artificial nature sounds (CDs or app) can help you sleep because they create white noise which is a noise that filters/masks other noises that may keep you awake.

According to the National Sleep Foundation there are 4 stages to sleeping. The following is from an article they published called "What Happens When You Sleep?"

Stage 1
* Between being awake and falling asleep
* Light sleep
Stage 2
* Onset of sleep
* Becoming disengaged from surroundings
* Breathing and heart rate are regular
* Body temperature drops (so sleeping in a cool room is helpful)
Stages 3 and 4
* Deepest and most restorative sleep
* Blood pressure drops
* Breathing becomes slower
* Muscles are relaxed
* Blood supply to muscles increases
* Tissue growth and repair occurs
* Energy is restored
* Hormones are released, such as: Growth hormone, essential for growth and development, including muscle development
REM (25% of night): First occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and recurs about every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night
* Provides energy to brain and body
* Supports daytime performance
* Brain is active and dreams occur
* Eyes dart back and forth
* Body becomes immobile and relaxed, as muscles are turned off
In addition, levels of the hormone cortisol dip at bed time and increase over the night to promote alertness in morning.

Keep your body energized, healthy and alive! Make sure you get 7-9 hours a sleep, you're maintaining proper hydration and taking a stand for your health!

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<![CDATA[Week 2: Sit Less]]>Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:07:00 GMThttp://mcinnesfitness.weebly.com/90-days-to-a-healthy-summer-challenge/week-2-sit-lessYou may want to stand while you read this article... After the discoveries I made while doing my research, I decided to stand as I type. We have a high-top dining room table which makes a perfect stand-up desk! 

Did you know that something as simple as sitting can be hazardous to your health? According to Dr David Agus,  a professor of Medicine and Engineering at the University of Southern California, and the author of "The End of Illness" says, "Sitting five or six hours a day, even if you spend an hour at the gym, is the equivalent of smoking an entire pack of cigarettes." Just like smoking, sitting for hours at a time is bad for you whether you exercise or not. Think about your typical day... How many hours would you estimate that you sit? At a desk, watching TV, surfing the web, traveling, reading, relaxing, eating and other miscellaneous activities.  Starting March 30th and for the following 83 days, I challenge you to take a stand for your health and sit less! 

The side-effects of sitting for long periods of time is starting to be widely researched and the results are pretty scary. During these studies researchers have found alarming correlations between sitting for hours and cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression and premature death. By sitting for long periods of time, you are exposing yourself to metabolic consequences because it negatively impacts your blood sugar levels, triglycerides, good cholesterol and resting heart rate. It even weakens some muscle while stretching others which compromises your overall posture. While you sit, your heart is working overtime to pump blood to your extremities and key enzymes are unable to move freely throughout your body. The American Cancer Society and the "American Journal of Epidemiology" have a number of articles which reveal these alarming statistics in great detail. 

The part I found most interesting about sitting was it didn't matter if you are physically active or not, sitting too much has negative health effects.  In fact, a few articles mentioned that active people often sit 30% MORE than their "couch potato" counter parts. Researchers believe that active people feel they have earned the right to sit for long periods of time. This means we may reward ourselves with a "Walking Dead" Marathon on Netflix after a workout. (I know I am guilty of that!) In the article "Sitting is the New Smoking - Even for Runners they mention that Australian researcher Dr Genevieve Healy coined the word "Active Couch Potato" to describe exercisers who sit most of the day. I have also heard people refer to "Weekend Warriors" as those who sit all week but are active on the weekends. All of us, no matter how active we are, need to be careful and aware of the risks involved with prolonged sitting. 

In an article titled "Sitting is the New Smoking - Even for Runners",  Selene Yeager states that in a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity reports that the average person sits 64 hours a week... that's more than 9 hours a day. It is time to break this bad habit...

So what should we do? 
Listen to audio books (or podcasts) while going for a walk or doing chores
When your favorite song comes on, don't just sit there! Have a mini dance party! 
If you have a treadmill or stationary bike, use it while watching TV. 
See if you get get an ergonomic stand-up desk.
Get a hoola-hoop or jump rope and practice during every commercial break. 
Sit on a stability ball to give your core a workout while you sit
Talk on the phone while standing and/or pacing
Read while standing instead of sitting... you could even do squats, a few lunges or sit-kicks
If you have an office job, set an alarm to go off every hour, get up, stretch and/or walk away from your desk.
At work, find ways to work on projects while standing.
If you don't live far from work, ride a bike or walk. 
Ride a bike or walk to do local errands.
Park further away so you can walk.
While on a long drive be sure to stop once an hour, think of "rest stops" as  "active stops".

Bring awareness to how much you sit and make it a habit to get up. Remember to stay hydrated too! This will help you get up more because I am sure you're making more trips to the bathroom as you're flushing out toxins! Win-Win! ]]>