Lifestyle

5 Tips to Navigate the Holidays

This time of year isn't always the easiest. From Thanksgiving through the New Year, people tend to struggle, so I had some thoughts I wanted to share on the matter.

1. What you do the majority of the time is what matters most, not what happens over a few holiday events. So, if leading up to your holiday parties and events, you're eating well 80-90% of the time, and getting 3-4 workouts in per week, you're going to be just fine. 

As I like to tell my clients, 80-90% compliance done consistently is ALWAYS going to be more effective than inconsistent perfection.

2. Do YOUR best, and "best" is going to look different for everyone. For myself, I like to stick to my foundational health habits to get me through this time of year. I know that if I'm at least accomplishing these things, I'll be able to bounce back and get into my routine with more ease.

- Build each meal around a quality protein and LOTS of non-starchy veggies.

- Move daily.

- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

- Prioritize sleep.

3. Keep moving daily. This doesn't mean I'm expecting you to hit the gym and crush a high intensity workout every day. It can be as simple as getting out of the house and going for a 20 min walk. I know each one of you can commit to a walk, at the very least.

Really, what I want is for you to move your body in a meaningful way daily. And that can look however you want it to. Just move.

4. Avoid going off the rails with your diet. It can be incredibly difficult to swing the momentum back in the direction of health and wellness when you've let yourself go completely. It's not impossible, but again, much easier to get back to your routine when you've practiced eating moderately.

5. NO GUILT. Regardless of how the next two weeks play out, the absolute last thing I want for any of you is guilt and shame surrounding your food or activity choices. Your progress will not be made in a single workout or single meal. It is a cumulative effort. What matters most is what you do once the events are over. All those other days, the days where there are no events, and you're living normally, those are the days where progress is made or lost.

Regardless of how the next two weeks play out, I want you to enjoy the hell out of them. Enjoy each bite, enjoy the time spent with the ones you love, and enjoy having a break from the normal day-to-day.

And for those of you who struggle actually being around your family this time of year, or for those who might feel their loneliness exemplified by lack of family, I am truly sorry. Stay strong, and please know that you are not alone. You will get through this and life will be back to normal soon.

“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” - Brene Brown

It’s in the darkness that our light can shine the brightest.

XOXO -

Jules

Self-Care Non-Negotiable

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” - John Muir

What do you need to feel balanced? To feel whole? These are questions I ask every client, and it’s important to understand, because these should be your self-care non-negotiables.

I am a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a coach. There are people who need and deserve me at my best. It used to feel like a constant battle to be everything my daughter needs, everything my clients need, and to also give myself what I need. All too often we forgo what might be best for us, because we feel the need to serve others before ourselves.

But what I’ve learned over this last year is that making one’s own mental and physical wellbeing a priority is not selfish, it’s essential. When you are caring for yourself properly, you’ll be operating closer to your optimal, which in turn will allow you to serve those you love with more enthusiasm.

So in reality, self-care is an act of selflessness.

My self-care non-negotiables:

- Move (and sweat) daily.

- Time in nature. Being amongst the trees is where I feel most at peace.

- Quiet time to read and meditate.

So, now I ask you. What do you need to feel balanced? What do you need to feel whole? What are your self-care non-negotiables? And most importantly, are they part of your daily routine? If not, it’s time to re-prioritize.

I deserve me at my best. And so do you, my friend. But if all we do is give, burnout is inevitable. Self-care is key. When you feel whole, you shine. And the world needs your light.

XOXO -

Jules

“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

It’s no secret that regular exercise has an immense impact on mental health; just as significant as the impact on your physical health. There have been countless studies on the topic, but I think the information is still lost on most of us. Some of the most significant benefits of regular exercise include:

Improved sleep. Sleep is essential, and lack of sleep will have a significant impact on both mental and physical health. Lost sleep has also been show to affect the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for focus, concentration, decision-making, reaction time, and more. Once sleep deprivation has reached a certain level (differs from person to person), it has been shown to hinder cognitive response, similarly to what's seen with intoxication.

Any level of regular exercise seems to make for better rest, but vigorous physical activity enhances deep sleep, and deep sleep is where we recover most.

Increased sex drive. I’m pretty sure this one is self-explanatory. I mean really, who doesn’t want a more active and fulfilling sex life?

Increased self-confidence. As strength and endurance increase, you will naturally feel stronger and more capable in life. With regular exercise, people report elevated perception of their own attractiveness and a more positive self-image.

Simply setting a plan and sticking to it automatically gives a sense of accomplishment. And as your body starts changing (increased muscle tone, fat loss, etc.), there’s a natural boost in self-confidence, which will only aid in seeing yourself in a more positive and loving light.

"Strength of mind is exercise, not rest." – Alexander Pope

Stress relief. Exercise is physical stress, so how does physical stress relieve mental stress? Physical exertion does wonders for your stress levels. It increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.

Exercise and sports also provide an opportunity to get away and enjoy some solitude or, if you’re someone who is recharged by being social, it provides an opportunity to make friends and build networks.

I’m the former. I am an introvert by nature, so when I get to the gym, I say hi to the front desk guy, and then the headphones go on and I’m in the zone. I rarely speak to anyone. Not because I don’t like people, but as a stay-at-home-mom, this is literally one of the only times of the day I get to be “alone.” And I need my alone time.

Exercise is also play and recreation; and when your body is busy, your mind will be distracted from the worries of daily life, and will be free to think creatively, or to not think at all.

Stress can have a severely negative impact on your mental and physical health, and is not something to be ignored. You can read more on the negative effects of stress here.

Improvement in mood. Elle Woods said it best, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Girlfriend knew what she was talking about. Exercise does release endorphins, which leads to feelings of happiness and euphoria.

Study after study has shown that regular exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, in some cases regular exercise was just as effective as prescription medication.

Increased energy and stamina. It’s been shown that individuals who exercise regularly are significantly more productive, and have more energy, than their sedentary peers.

Increased mental alertness and memory. Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells, and that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking, and learning.

Regular exercise has also been seen to increase the production of cells in the hypocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

If you’re new to working out, it’s probably going to feel like more of an exhausting chore than a stress relief, but stay the course. The first 2 weeks are always the most difficult, then suddenly, the day comes when it’s not so difficult. You don’t lose your breath as easily; you’re able to lift a little more weight. Soon it will become something you enjoy, and eventually, something you need.

You just won’t feel right without it.

“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” – Henry David Thoreau

XOXO –

Jules

How to Deal When Shit Hits the Fan

2015 was a whirlwind year; 

  • My beloved grandfather passed away after a 10-year battle with cancer, and I am so thankful to say I was with him at the end.

  • Discovered I was pregnant.

  • Planned my wedding.

  • Got married.

  • After 5 wonderful year of owning my own personal training business (and 8 years living in LA) I closed up shop and moved to Santa Fe, NM (my husband’s hometown), officially making myself unemployed (for the first time since I was 16).

  • I gave birth to my daughter.

  • I became a stay-at-home-mom who worked from home.

To say I was stressed is an understatement. To combat such major life stressors, or when things are just busier, you have to have a strategy, otherwise that shit can paralyze you. 

“Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

1) Mindset.

First and foremost, your mindset is everything. Life is 5% what happens to us and 95% how we react to what happens to us. It rarely goes as we have planned. Life is always going to throw obstacles in your path, so you’ve got to have the mental fortitude to adjust and keep pushing forward. 

Life is an adventure my friends, and a beautiful one at that, if you choose to see it that way.

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?” - Ernest Hemingway

2) Sleep 8 hours.

Yes, this might feel impossible when you have a million things to do, but sleep is crucial. I guarantee the fastest way to burn yourself out, get sick, crave nothing but junk food, and generally be miserable and unproductive, is if you skimp on sleep.

Here’s the catch, when you get enough of it, you are actually more productive the following day.

You can read more on the importance of sleep here. – link to sleep blog.

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” – Sydney J. Harris

3) Exercise for, at minimum, 30 minutes.

The gym is my sanctuary and the weights, my therapist. Time away only makes me feel worse.

“But how can I possibly get a quality workout in 30 min,” you ask? I am the master of the 30 min workout, and it goes a little something like this:

  • 5 min warm up: foam roll and dynamic stretches.

  • 10 min HIIT: treadmill, KB swings, med ball slams, rower… the options are endless.

  • 15 min AMRAP circuit: choose 6-8 exercises, pick your reps, set your timer, and crush it.

Wham. Bam. Thank you ma’am!

“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” - Thomas Jefferson

4) Daily brisk walk.

My favorite time for a walk is first thing in the morning. I brew my coffee and head out the door. The blood flow + caffeine wakes you up and gets those brain cells firing, and it’s going to lead to a much more productive day. 

A daily walk (and regular workouts) is essential to keeping my positive mindset. 

“Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection.” – Amit Ray

5) BONUS! 

Quiet time with stretching, meditation, foam rolling, hot showers/baths, reading, yoga and power naps will make you feel recharged and help to bring back mental focus. Restorative downtime might feel like a luxury, but self-care is of the upmost importance, especially during those high stress times in life.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” - Marcus Aurelius

I made it through, hands down, the craziest year of my life, and I’m a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and coach for it. Make yourself the priority and you will get through your stressful times with grace and strength.

XOXO –

Jule

The Many Uses of Coconut Oil

Coconut has become one of my favorites. It has so many uses, it's kind of like duct tape. I always buy several jars at a time, so I never run out completely. Below I’ve listed my main uses, and the benefits of it, for you guys, but feel free to comment below if you have uses you think other readers might find useful.

Eat it.

Assuming you don't already have a heart condition, coconut oil can actually have heart health benefits. Any recipe calling for vegetable oil can be replaced with coconut oil. It has a high heat tolerance, so it’s great for stir-frying. It’s also great for baking, or as a dairy-free replacement to butter.

You can take it as a supplement for daily energy.

Add to your coffee as a dairy-free creamer.

It’s high Lauric acid and MCFA content helps boost metabolism and to utilize fat for fuel, it can help improve cholesterol ratios and insulin levels, it’s an immediate source of energy when eaten and isn’t stored as fat, it improves brain function, and it has been shown to increase absorption of calcium and magnesium.

Body lotion and facial moisturizer.

Rub coconut oil into the skin as a basic lotion. It actually helps to increase sun tolerance and avoid burning, and it has a naturally occurring SPF of 4. It can help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, help skin heal faster after injury or infection, and relieve sun burns, poison oak, and bug bites.

As a facial moisturizer it can help reduce the signs of aging, heal acne, and can lighten age spots. I use a facial moisturizer with a higher SPF during the day, and the coconut oil at night as a deep moisturizer.

It also works to protect a baby's bum from diaper rash, by creating a protective barrier.

Eye-makeup remover.

Place a couple drops on a cotton ball and rub onto eye lids. It will help break up the makeup so you can then wash your face without adding the harmful chemicals of store-bought eye-makeup remover.

Oil pulling.

It’s weird, but it works. The whole idea is that the oil is able to cut through plaque and remove toxins without disturbing the teeth or gums.

Take 1-2 Tbs and swish in mouth for 20 minutes. No more, and no less. (I usually do it when I’m in the shower). Spit oil (and toxins) into the garbage, rinse mouth with warm water, and then brush teeth.

Your hair.

Put a tiny dab in your hands, rub together, and smooth through hair. It will help get rid of friz and prevent split ends. You can also use it as an incredibly intensive natural conditioner. Rub it into dry hair, put a shower cap on, leave for several hours, and then shampoo and condition as normal.

XOXO -

JULES

SLEEP - The Missing Link

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When people think weight loss, they usually think about exercise, proper nutrition, drinking water, taking supplements, etc. What most people forget to look at is sleep. Your quality, and quantity, of sleep plays a HUGE role in you health and fitness goals.

BENEFITS OF SLEEP:
Your body does the most recovering during sleep; recovery of your muscle and brain. Working out actually causes muscle damage. Sleep is where the muscles repair and you make strength gains. It is a significant stimulator for growth hormone release, which is a natural agent for cell growth and reproduction. Sleep also appears to improve muscle memory, with the most benefits after 7 hours of sleep.

Individuals who get in extra sleep are more likely to perform better at work in workouts, and/or at their sport, have a better mood, and have increased alertness.

SLEEP DEPRIVATION:
When deprived of sleep, our level of cortisol (the stress hormone) raises, which interferes with tissue repair, growth, and increases fat storage. Lost sleep has also been show to affect the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for focus, concentration, decision making, reaction time, and more. Once sleep deprivation has reached a certain level (differs from person to person), it has been shown to hinder cognitive response, similarly to what's seen with intoxication. (If you normally sleep 8 hrs, but you only get 6, the impact is roughly comparable to a 0.05 alcohol level).

When looking at performance, it looks as though sleep deprivation may affect your body's ability to metabolize glucose efficiently. This causes the time it takes for you to reach exhaustion to lessen and increases the perception of how had you're working, because your body does not have the energy to work at it's normal capacity. Fatigue also masks your exertion level. You "max out" well before you actually should.

Sleep deprivation is cumulative, and it takes time to fix that "sleep debt". Many individuals accumulate large sleep debt by not obtaining their nightly sleep requirements. You should try to extend nightly sleep for several weeks before any kind of athletic event to help reduce sleep debt. If nerves keep you up the night before, don't stress, that's normal. What's important is your regular sleep habits. The greater your training intensity, the greater your sleep needs. And if you're not sleep deprived, studies show an extra hour may help increase your athletic performance.

When tired, form goes south. This can lead to injuries and forming bad habits in your movement patters.

SLEEP TIPS:
Unplug at least 30 minutes before bed. You want your brain activity to slow down. Try meditation, or some gentle yoga, which may help you unwind for better quality sleep.

Minimizing light and noise level is key to quality sleep. Your body will absorb the smallest amount of light, which will reduce your secretion of melatonin (natural sleep hormone). Close your curtains, block the light from appliances, even the light from your alarm clock can inhibit your sleep. If you can't minimize noise, try a white noise machine for soothing background noise.

My caffeine rule: NONE after 2 PM. Even chocolate. Caffeine has a half life of up to 7 hours, so if you consume it too late in the day, it has the potential to greatly affect your sleep.

Alcohol has also been seen to inhibit your deep REM sleep, so try to limit your alcohol consumption.

Consumption of cheery juice, before bed, has actually been shown to increase melatonin production. This allows individuals to fall asleep faster, and achieve a better quality sleep.

Early risers tend to be more active, because they have longer daylight hours to be active in. It's actually been shown that, comparing work in the early hours of the day, to work completed in the late night hours, work done in early hours is more significant (larger projects), whereas late night work is more menial (minor tasks).

EXERCISE. 

Any level of exercise seems to make for better rest, but vigorous physical activity enhances deep sleep.

Now get out there and sleep like a champ.

XOXO -

JULES