#HappyHolidaysChallenge: Move That Body

Happy HolidaysHello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.blog_mailSignup

Move That Body

Think about the worst possible thing you could do for your health.  What comes to mind?  For me, it’s smoking cigarettes.  Shockingly, being physically inactive is just as dangerous as smoking!  The scary impact that being sedentary can have on your health is just the first of many reasons to move that body – physical activity also improves your ability to manage stress, helps you feel happier, and increases energy.  All of those benefits are extra important during the holiday season, but physical activity often falls by the wayside in favor of crossing another item of the to-do list.

Living an active life is an important ingredient of living a healthy life, especially when you’re time-crunched.  Instead of stressing about how you can possibly squeeze in a workout, find ways to incorporate movement into your everyday routine.

You Can Do It Challenge:  Add physical activity into at least one activity each day to reap all the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of moving your body.

Add in Active Movement Anytime, Anywhere

I know it’s hard to find time for physical activity when you’re pressed for time, but you can literally make just about any activity more, well, active!  Folding laundry?  Keep the clothes basket on the floor and add in a squat (with correct form of course – click here for a how-to) between each piece of clothing.  Putting away groceries?  Lunge through the kitchen as you put each item away (once again, correct form is key – here’s your how-to).

Photo credit: violetsage.wordpress.com

Photo credit: violetsage.wordpress.com

You can get extra movement in things you are already doing.  Instead of shooting someone an email, deliver the message in person. Change your desk meeting into a walk and talk meeting to fit in work and movement at the same time.

If you’re one of those people who work through your lunch, what if you ran an errand and took your lunch break to enjoy yourself instead of slogging through that hour?  You’ll get some physical activity AND self-care, both of which will help you be more productive in the long-run.

Going through a seemingly endless inbox?  Stand on one foot while you check those emails, alternating feet with each message, to challenge your strength and balance.

Be Your Own People Mover

Use your body as a vehicle to run errands on foot. Instead of driving to the store, walk!  Think of the pros: it’s better for the environment, better for your health, and saves gas money.  If walking to the store isn’t an option, park as far from the door as possible to get an extra bit of walking in.

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up below.  You’ll get weekly emails, along with my free guide to making over your kitchen with healthy food staples.


Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c

Sleep Better with Food and Fitness

Just as sleep is important to our body, what we do with our body in terms of food and exercise plays a major role in the way we sleep (or don’t sleep).  Good nutrition and exercise can help you sleep, but poor sleep leads to poor eating and exercise decisions immediately. A lack of shut-eye is linked with ditching your workout. It’s one thing to skip the workout to get more sleep once in awhile, but if you ditch your workout and cheat yourself of sleep, then you aren’t breaking the cycle.

Contrary to what we have all been told, eating prior to bed is not such a bad thing after all.  In fact, a light snack containing 25-35 g of carbs can help release serotonin which contributes to a more restful sleep. Foods rich in vitamin B6 also help boost melatonin production, a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness. Lighter is better when eating a bedtime snack to avoid heartburn. Click here to see my latest appearance on the OWN Show to learn more about this old wives tale and the secrets to keeping weight off.

Catch Some Extra ZZZ’s With These Tranquil Eats

  • Magnesium-rich foods like almonds, and calcium rich foods like cheese and crackers help your body use tryptophan and serotonin to get sleepy.
  • 1 piece of raisin toast with 1 Tbsp cream cheese – sweet and satisfying with carbs in the form of grains and dried fruit to help you relax, and calcium from the cream cheese to build your stress-depleted stores will keeping you snoozing through the night.
  • tart-cherry-juice-sleepThis Red Recharger Smoothie combines Greek yogurt and tart cherry juice to give you a boost of melatonin along with powerful antioxidants.
  • A bedtime bowl of cereal helps you make serotonin thanks to the carbohydrates and calcium.
  • This Mango Cherry and Avocado Salad combines creamy avocado with the sweetness of mango and  tangy tart cherries which helps promote melatonin. Top this salad with fish, such as a piece of grilled salmon for some extra vitamin B6, which helps boost melatonin production.
  • Get a boost of vitamin B6 from fish–tuna, halibut, and salmon along with garlic, walnuts and pistachios help your body make serotonin and melatonin.
  • Drinking chamomile tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts like a mild sedative.

If You’re Feeling Tired or Exhausted…

  • Go to sleep, take a nap. It is ok to allow yourself the time to take a nap. Sometimes it is really all we need.
  • If there is no time for a nap do a few jumping jacks or go for a little walk to get your heart rate up and blood pumping.
  • Stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can affect your mind and alertness. Aim for a minimum of 8-12 glasses of fluid daily, drinking more during warm weather.110310_grains
  • Limit caffeine in the morning – Instead of reaching for the 24 ounce Venti at Starbucks, sip on a  quarter or half-cup of coffee to give you more of a consistent level of alertness. Avoid caffeine after 2pm to prevent disrupted sleep.
  • Prevent spikes in blood sugar – Replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains to produce a steady surge of energy after a meal. Try these overnight oats for breakfast or a snack; they’re full of whole grains and have an ideal balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat to ensure a slow, steady boost of energy.
  • Don’t drink alcohol to fall asleep. This prevents you from reaching the important deep-sleep REM cycle that is required to feel fully rested.
  • Avoid screen time 1 hour prior to bed time. Backlit LCD screens disrupt melatonin production which disrupts you natural sleep cycle.
  • Exercise. Getting your heart pumping and body moving is a great way to reenergize and reduce stress, which is often one of the main culprits that keeps us lying awake at night.
  • Have a notebook by the bed to write down the worries and to-dos for the next day; get them out of your head for now so you can sleep.

Join the Challenge! 

What are your tips and tricks when it comes to getting a restful sleep? Be sure to join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge. All you have to do is “follow” me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll be posting motivations, and many more tips and tricks to help you get more zzz’s. I’d love to hear from you too! Be sure to share you thoughts and I’ll be responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY. Use the primary hashtag #30daysleepchallenge and #mefirst as the secondary hashtag.

Disclosure: I am a spokesperson for Tart Cherries but was not compensated to write this blog.

Sleep Your Way to Better Health

I once heard a great Irish proverb that has stuck with me throughout my life, ‘A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.’ These days Americans are getting less and less sleep every year. Currently only 40 percent of the U.S. gets the recommended eight hours, on average receiving only 6.8 hours per night. While a short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about, long term sleep loss can really throw a dagger in your overall well-being and health. This month I would like to challenge you all to get a good nights rest. If you think you’re in need of some shut eye, join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge to learn how a good night’s sleep will help you be more productive during waking hours.

How Losing ZZZs Can Harm Your Health

Research has shown that most Americans would be happier, healthier and safer if they were to sleep an extra 60 to 90 minutes per night.

So why aren’t we snoozing? Stress is the number one cause of sleep difficulties. 48% of people report lying awake due to stress. We have too much to do and not enough time, but instead of respecting the boundary of sleep, we nudge precious minutes to hours off our sleep each night.

Stress is directly linked to poor health. According to the American Stress Institute 77% of Americans experience physical symptoms of stress regularly and 73% experience psychological symptoms. These include fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, hemorrhoids, digestive issues, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle tension, memory loss, fertility issues, teeth grinding, increased risks for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, changes in appetite, changes in sex drive, dizziness, irritability, and anger.

Whew. That’s a lot of crap!

Both quantity and quality of sleep are important. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation, and release of hormones that regulate our appetite. With not enough good quality sleep, we wake up unprepared to concentrate, make decisions, or engage fully in work, family, and social activities.

Could Your Lack of Sleep be Affecting Your Weight? sleep clock

If you think you can survive on 6 hours of sleep, think again. Our body needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, however most people put more importance on physical well being, including food and exercise than mental well being which includes being rested. There is a strong link between sleep, appetite, and weight. According to a recent study published in PLoS Medicine people who receive less than 7 hours of sleep each night have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI).

Lack of sleep elevates ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”  –so  if you’ve felt “tired and hungry” with strong craving for carbs, sugar, fat or  “comfort foods” that is your body looking for energy, when actually it needs to be energized through better sleep. Instead of reaching for a quick sugar fix, close your eyes and reenergize.

Stop Counting Sheep – Join the #30daysleepchallenge!

Be sure to join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge. All you have to do is “follow” me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll be posting motivations, and many more tips and tricks to help you get more zzz’s. I’d love to hear from you too! Be sure to share you thoughts and I’ll be responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY. Use the primary hashtag #30daysleepchallenge and #mefirst as the secondary hashtag.

How to Break Out of Scale Jail – OWN Show Videos

I can remember a time where I felt so great about my health, possibly the best I have ever felt. I was confident, comfortable in my clothes, and happy with my eating and exercise habits. Then I stepped on the scale. The number was surprisingly higher than I expected. I was deflated, mad, so pissed off, and I suddenly felt like crap. At that moment I realized I was letting a number rule that way I felt about my health and was completely disregarding what truly mattered –  that I felt awesome and healthy! I was in scale jail.

Has this ever happened to you? Giving so much power to a number? Stepping on a scale to see our weight can trap us in an emotional prison. However, some of us still continue to have more serious relationships with our scales than with ourselves and the most important people in our lives.

I recently filmed some segments for the The OWN Show to discuss why weighing yourself may actually be doing more harm than good. You can watch the full clips below and comment on the OWN Facebook page!

If there is ONE THING you take away, it’s this: There is more to your health than just a number on a scale. 

Watch this video below to learn what happens to our bodies and minds when we step on the scale.

When Should You Weigh Yourself?

It’s important to know that day to day jumping on the scale does not tell you the complete picture of your health. Weighing ourselves tells us one thing: our weight. If you are weighing yourself and it feels like a judgement you should cut back. Do it once a year and  compare your weight to your own trends, not anyone else. If that seems too challenging try once a week, or once a month, and go from there.

 How Often is Too Often?

Being ashamed of your weight can actually lead to overeating or skipping meals and body dissatisfaction. When weighing yourself makes you feel bad about yourself it is no longer benefitting you. Instead of focusing on weight, focus on healthy habits that can fit into your lifestyle. We have other numbers like lab values from blood work that can tell us how healthy we are and matter much more to our overall health. Weight can change daily but our health does not change that rapidly. We add muscle to our bodies, store more water, or just fluctuate, and we have to stop placing so much emphasis on the scale.

When to Step on the Scale

There are really not too many times when it’s necessary to know our weight. The only times I can think it would be important to know your weight is if you are going under the knife for surgery for medication dosing, sky diving, competing in a professional sport where weight class is required,  or if you are pregnant in order to measure the growth of your baby throughout your pregnancy.

Break Out of Scale Jail

I encourage you to take a break from the scale. Move away from determining your body satisfaction solely on a number and remind yourself that your weight has little to do with your overall health and well being.

Now You “Weigh In”

Feel free to join in the discussion and let us know how you feel about weighing yourself. Share your comments and questions on social media. We’re using these hashtags and handles:



@DanishaDanielle (the host who interviewed me)

and, of course, @ScritchfieldRD (that’s me!)


Being Stressed Out! Bad for You and Your Health

A full 43 percent of U.S. adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) study. Jobs, money and health are cited as the “top three” sources of stress.

A little stress can be okay, but with the crazy time schedules we keep to these days, chronic stress can wreak havoc on our bodies. Stress can hit us an external force, like a big project at work, or a self induced internal force like doubting yourself.

When your body feels stressed or threatened, your nervous system kicks into overdrive.

“Fight or Flight”

Hormones including adrenaline and cortisol tell your body to get going to either fight, or run from the stressor. Adrenaline causes the body to increase energy supplies while cortisol lets your brain use glucose more effectively. It also tells your digestion to stop, and refocus the energy to external limbs (run away!).

Body Responses to Stress

Here’s what happens during your stress response:

  • Heart rate increases
  • Muscles tighten
  • Blood pressure increases
  • Rate of breathing increases
  • Senses sharpen

A Little is OK, More is Not Better

But what happens when you’re stressed all the time? Your body ceases to respond to each incident in the above ways and begins to affect not only your mood, but decreases your health as a whole.

Long term stress can affect you in the following ways:

  • Raises blood pressure
  • Suppresses the immune system
  • Increases the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Contributes to infertility
  • Ages the body
  • Increases risk of depression
  • Causes sleep problems
  • Digestive problems like increased stomach acid (ulcers)
  • Increases risk of obesity
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Pessimism
  • Anxiety
  • Constant worrying
  • Aches and Pains
  • Increasing food consumption or decreasing it

With all the “down sides” to chronic stress, why do we put up with it? I have no idea, that’s a good question. One guess is that it’s that feeling of trying to “dig out” of all the “things” that seem to pile up on us.


We can’t do it all… so how does TRYING to do it all help us? Maybe it’s better to look at our 24 hours and spend it wisely. Then… Let it go.

How Do You Chill Out?

De-stress by reaching out to a friend for a great chat. Go for a walk or get some exercise in by going for a swim! Pause for a few minutes of deep breathing — or even better hit up a yoga or meditation class. You’ve got to take a little time for yourself to reduce stress before it affects health.

Remember, small changes for big results: stopping the stress before it becomes long term can keep the long list of problems I mentioned earlier at bay.