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  1. Intermittent Fasting: Just Another Diet Trend? As the name suggests, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between fasting and eating. In recent years it has become not only a popular approach to weight control, but also a means to improve metabolic health. Fasting is nothing new to us humans. It's practiced in various religions around the world, and it was a way of life for our predecessors, the hunter-gatherers. Intermittent may be more than just a 'diet', and it may have potential as a healthy lifestyle option. Fasting and the Hunter-gatherers In hunter-gatherer societies of our past, our ancestors survived and thrived for long periods of time without eating. Their days were consumed with hunting along with collecting nuts and berries. A small window of each day was their opportunity to feast. That was life as the hunter-gatherer knew it, and though that presented it's own challenges, research shows that obesity and the ramifications of it were virtually non existent. Intermittent Fasting and Metabolic Health Simply put, having good metabolic health refers to having ideal levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, along with maintaining blood pressure and waist circumference in a normal range all without the use of medications. In a study published in 2018 in the Journal of Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill evaluated data from 8,721 adults from 2009 to 2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that only 1 in 8 adults in the United States are considered metabolically healthy. The weight loss, which frequently occurs when time for eating each day is limited, often helps improve all parameters involved in measuring metabolic health. Additionally, many changes occur in the body during the fasting period. Insulin levels drop allowing for increased fat burning, cellular repair takes place, and human growth hormone (HCG) levels rise allowing for further fat burning and muscle gain. When to Eat Versus What to Eat The concept of intermittent fasting is pretty straight forward. You eat, and then you abstain from eating for an amount of time-usually 16-20 hours. Some intermittent fasting followers will even follow a one meal a day approach called OMAD. Weight loss accompanies the reduction in calories that naturally comes with the reduced time to eat. It is of course possible to negate weight loss efforts with over consuming calories during the eating window, but more difficult to do so when time is restricted. While it technically doesn't matter what one eats during the eating window, for optimal results attention should be given to eating nutrient dense foods. Incorporating Intermittent Fasting Into Your Life One of the beautiful things about intermittent fasting is that it can be personalized in a way that works for an individual. The often unpredictable schedules of nurses can sometimes wreck havoc on many well thought out lifestyle changes. Unlike other 'diets', intermittent fasting is flexible and doesn't necessarily require a lot of planning or meal prep. Different Options for Different Needs Often people who are new to intermittent fasting will opt for a 16 hour fast. Also known as a 16/8 fast, eight hours are allowed to consume all nutrients for the day. Other common options are 18/6 hour fasts, OMAD, and the 5:2 approach which involves eating 'normally' for five days a week, while the other two days restrict calories to under 600 calories. Coffee and Fasting Many of us love our coffee! Black coffee, unsweetened TEAS, and water (regular and carbonated) can be consumed during the fasting period and will not disrupt any of the positive changes occurring during the fast. The jury is out as to whether a small amount sweetener or cream is acceptable, but most experts will say to nix them. I can say from personal experiences that it is possible to acquire a taste for (and even prefer) black coffee. The Bottom Line We all know that there is no one size fits all when it comes to anything related to diet. While intermittent fasting offers a no fuss means to losing weight, maintaining weight, and improving metabolic health, it is by no means a one size fits all solution. Could it be an answer for you? References Prevalence of Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2016 Intermittent Fasting 101 — The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide Hunter-gatherer energetics and human obesity
  2. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    3 Easy Ways to Improve Health and Happiness

    It is a basic human drive to thrive and experience a joyful, life filled with purpose. Yet, despite the influx of the latest and greatest life hacks, self-help programs, and wellness products flooding the market , it is time tested, no-cost , and overlooked measures that ultimately help us to enhance and foster more excellent relationships with ourselves. Here are a few simple tips that any of us can apply immediately to improve our well-being, enhance our health, and restore our peace of mind. 1. Live Debt Free At some time or another, most of us have learned the stressful nature of debt. Studies have shown that high levels of debt can lead to, among other things, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, lowered immunity, and relationship issues. All of these can rob us of our well-being and cause us to lose control over our ability to manage our health and happiness. One of the fastest and easiest ways of turning the ship around when it comes to debt is to commit to using only cash for purchases and eliminating the use of credit cards. Living within our means gives us an appreciation and a sense of fulfillment when we apply the resources we have, limiting our consumption and not wasting our financial resources on items we do not need. Saving money provides a sense of accomplishment, security and improves well-being. While it is wise to have a credit card or line of credit squirreled away for a rainy day, being disciplined in our spending habits and paying down our debt can often do more for our sense of well-being and health than following the latest health trends and may-be even starting an exercise program. Eliminating the stress of debt accumulation is a vital act of self-care which we can easily apply and commit to. Studies show that chronic stress makes us sicker and can contribute to life-threatening events such as stroke and heart attack more so than any other lifestyle behavior. Additionally, paying with cash in hand versus charging a credit card makes us more conscious of the amounts we are spending, giving us the opportunity to ask ourselves two important questions: “Can I afford this?” and “Do I need this?” 2. Organize Your Space In our consumption centered culture, we are bombarded daily with endless advertising and are urged to buy and consume constantly. Before long we can find ourselves with living spaces packed with all manner of “stuff”, a lot of which serves no immediate purpose in our lives and, in many instances, has been collecting dust for years. It is supremely gratifying to clean out and organize our spaces. Giving things away to the local thrift store or donating these unnecessary belongings to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, in addition to freeing up valuable room, also provides a greater sense of control and orderliness – all net positives for reducing stress and improving well-being. A study conducted by Dr. Nicole Keith of Indiana University found that out of a group of 998 subjects between 49 – 65 (a particular group of high risk demographic for heart disease), those who kept their homes orderly and uncluttered where healthier than those who didn’t. 3. Write Your Goals Down We all have goals and dreams we want to realize. Whether they are of a personal, financial, social, or professional nature one of the fastest, proven ways to achieve those goals and manifest our dreams is to write them down. You can choose to keep them down in a journal or jot them on post-it notes or note cards and distribute them throughout your home or office. Prioritize your most pressing goal or need and spend a few minutes each day focusing on them. You can also elect to write positive affirmations toward the realization of your goal, reciting them several times day to keep it in focus in your imagination. This inexpensive, proven method for creating the things we want in our lives can become an excellent life-long behavior, which is backed by research. A study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University of 267 people found that those who regularly wrote down their goals and dreams were 42% more likely to achieve their dreams than those who didn’t. When one goal is realized or achieved, we can identify the next important goal and work on that specifically, using our desire to program our unconscious mind to make our ideal real. After all, thoughts actually are tangible forms of energy or “things”. By repeatedly thinking about something, we can help facilitate its realization. Vision Boards are also very popular and provide not only an opportunity to produce a creative expression of our thoughts, feelings and desires, but can also serve as a daily visual reminder of what our desire and dreams are for the present and future. Everything was a thought before it became a physical reality – the chair you are sitting on was a thought in someone’s mind before it was created. We can and do create our lives with our thoughts – so, to use the title of a best-selling book: write it down and make it happen! Resources Dave Ramsey: Cash vs. Credit Card: Which Should I Use? Health.com: 7 Ways Debt Is Bad for Your Health Psychology Today: The Powerful Psychology Behind Cleanliness HUFFPOST: The Power of Writing Down Your Goals and Dreams
  3. Let’s focus on some personal results from being too busy and challenge how it affects your lifestyle: YOU aren’t present. When have you been so swept away in a busy situation that you waived off an overture from your spouse, child, friend because you didn’t have time for them? YOU miss out on opportunities. When has an opportunity arisen that you really wanted to pursue but were too busy to take the time to explore it? YOU forget to love and care for yourself. When is the last time you did something nice for yourself, like a massage, spa day, weekend getaway? YOU don’t make time for doing nothing. How often do you unplug, detach and just “be” without doing? YOU don’t have time to think. When do you take the time to ponder and process issues in your life and work? YOU neglect to set boundaries. What is the effect on your day when you don’t set boundaries? YOU aren’t working to your potential. What goal do you wish to achieve that you are too busy to pursue? YOU become emotionally unavailable. What relationships are in jeopardy because you are too busy to nurture them? YOU forget to dream. How would your life be different if you took the time to imagine a perfect life for you? YOU forget your “why”. How often do you take the time to contemplate the reason you are here on this planet? Does this exercise give you some insights about the effect of busy-ness on the quality of your life? Or does it cause even more stress than you already have? Not to worry. I have solutions. But before I share, YOU need to make a decision about whether you are willing to make some changes in your life and take back the time and energy you lack right now. Top 10 solutions for reducing busy-ness and improving your health: 1. Examine your lifestyle Write down everything you do in a day Label what is important and what is not Stop doing what is not important 2. Follow your intuition Sit quietly for 10 minutes with eyes closed Imagine that your intuition is speaking to you about your busy-ness. What is it saying? Check in with your intuition whenever you feel overwhelmed and ask for answers 3. Say no Before you say yes - ask yourself: Do I have time for this? Do I want to do this? Does it fit with my values? 4. Network for support Talk with someone who seems to have their life in control Ask them what techniques they use to prevent being too busy Find an accountability partner while you begin making changes 5. Prioritize your health Determine how important your health is to you Schedule “health improvement time” on your calendar daily Create a reward system for yourself as a motivator 6. Calm your mind Focus on taking slow deep breaths whenever you feel tense Count to 10 if you feel you might blow up at someone Schedule time daily for meditation, calming music, relaxation strategies 7. Refresh your body Get up and move around every hour; or sit down every hour if you are always on your feet Do stretching exercises every hour Take breaks by walking outside or up and down stairs 8. Use food for brain power Create your lunch and snacks at home so you don’t waste time at work finding food Eat whole real food, low glycemic, not processed Drink a lot of water, half your weight in ounces 9. Create a workable schedule Honor a start and end time to your day and stick with it Avoid taking work home. If you must, determine if it’s necessary or can wait until the next day. Create an annual calendar that locks in self-care days off and vacations 10. Get enough sleep Pull the plug on technology after 8pm Spend quiet time to unwind before going to bed Set a sleep schedule of 7-8 hours Hopefully, these tips will be useful for you in your quest to reduce the busy-ness in your life and restore well-being. Feel free to share how you manage your busy lifestyle so we can all learn from each other. For a more in-depth look at this issue, I have a new book being released soon – Too Busy for YOU – How to Prioritize Yourself for a Balanced, Mindful and Happy Life. Let me know if you want to be notified when it is available. Resource: 21 Reasons Why You Should Not be Proud of Being Busy