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8 Ways to Be Your Best Self in 2018

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8 Ways to Be Your Best Self in 2018

Happy 2018! Here we are again at the beginning of another year. If you’re not the kind of person to make resolutions, maybe this list can change your mind. The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the previous year - a time to acknowledge your accomplishments and to begin working towards things that you still want to achieve. For me, the new year is a reset, and a time for appreciation and growth.

Below I’ve listed some guidelines on resetting your body and mind for 2018! (One could also argue that these are ranked by importance)

1. Drink Water.

This seems like an easy one, right? But have you ever truly reaped the many benefits that drinking enough water provides? A good friend of mine would tell me that the answer to all of your maladies is water. If you skin looks tired, drink water. If you’re feeling under the weather, drink water. If you feel a headache coming on, drink water. If you’re feeling lackluster, drink water - you get the point. It is recommended to drink half of your bodyweight in ounces of water daily. For example, a 180lb man or woman should drink 90oz water per day. Give it a go for clearer skin and a clearer mind!

2. Get Enough Sleep.

Here’s another favorite for resolution-ers. We often say that, with every new year, we’re going to sleep more and work less. But with another year gone, here it is again, making it to the top of the list. Sleep is just as crucial for peace of mind and productivity as drinking water. Without enough sleep, or without enough quality sleep, we enter the vicious cycle of relying on other substances to keep us awake, disrupting our natural sleep cycles and throwing our hormones out of whack. This creates a crabby, tired monster who never gets anything done. Let’s stray away from that in 2018.

3. Put Away Your Phone.

This one is tough. I get it. Our cellphones are our connection to the outside world, they’re our source of income, and they’re also part of our identities. Take this tip with a grain of salt - the more you’re looking at your phone, the less time you’re a part of the world around you. Start small and keep your phone away during dinner with friends. Focus your year on building solid social connections without the use of electronics - you’ll gain much more than you think.

4. Get Up and Move.

Notice how an exercise-related topic is 4th on the list? That’s because, in order to get the most out of exercise, you have to be hydrated and well rested. Now for this exercise goal, it doesn’t have to be anything crazy - just getting up and moving daily is all I ask of you. If you drink more water, you’ll also need to take more trips to the bathroom, which is more movement (see how i slipped that one in). If your movement is going for a walk at lunch, awesome! If its commiting to 3 days per week of strength training, amazing! Or even if it’s going to zumba with your mom every Saturday morning, even better! I hope to be less hard on myself in 2018 for missing a workout, and so should you!

5. Eat More Veggies and Less Donuts.

Now, here’s the food one. This year, I challenge you to have a more open mind when it comes to what you eat. I know it’s easy to fall into cycles: you eat poorly, then realize you’re eating poorly, so you eat really well for a week, only to have your flow disrupted when your coworker brings donuts into the office and you cave and eat three. Wow, can I relate to that. It’s tough to say no to sweets and treats, I know. But if you really want to eat the donut then eat it. Maybe don’t eat three donuts, and have an extra large serving of veggies during your next meal, but don’t be ashamed or discouraged if your diet hits a road bump.

6. Laugh More.

This one seems silly, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. This is just a friendly reminder to not take yourself too seriously. We’re all professionals here and we’ve worked hard to get to where we are, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t laugh until you cry every once in a while. When was the last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe? If you don’t have an answer to that, it’s been too long.

7. Work Less.

Did you know that work days in Sweden are six hours? Can you imagine? That sounds amazing. They did this in order to allow employees to be more productive during each hour of work, and also to allow them to live fuller lives. Let’s take some advice from across the waters and start working less. If you can answer the question, “Will it make a difference if I do it tomorrow?” with a no, then it can wait until tomorrow. Just think of all of the time you’ll have if you actually stopped working when you left the office.

8. Learn Something New.

Lastly, there is evidence that continuing to learn may help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Now if that isn’t enough motivation to learn more about a subject of interest, a new language, or even just read more, I don’t know what is. One of my personal goals for this year is to read one book per month. I used to love reading growing up but I’ve fallen off of the wagon. I want to use this year to learn as much as I can. What do you want to learn more about?

This list is a guideline to help you live a more fulfilling life in 2018. We aren’t getting any younger, so now is the time to stop with the excuses and stay dedicated. Who knows - maybe you’ll develop habits to continue these great behaviors forever, or at least inspire someone around you.

Happy New Year and let’s be our best selves this year!

perform-for-life-amber-movement-specialist

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Reflecting on 2017 | Bryant's Journey

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Reflecting on 2017 | Bryant's Journey

As I reflect on my energy and health over the past year, I’ve found that I’ve definitely made improvements in some categories, but also realize that I need a lot of improvement in others. Justine and I recently attended a seminar at the Small Business Administration. At the seminar, we took an Entrepreneur Energy Assessment, which evaluated each person in 4 categories - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I’ll go into more detail about each category, and start off with the one I feel strongest in.

1. Physical (My Biggest Improvement in 2017)

When it comes to sleep, my goal for 2017 has been 8 hours per night. I’ve averaged about 7.2 hours, which is a definite improvement from 2016 when I averaged 6.7 hours - yes, I’m a data nerd. Over the past 6 months, my exercise has evolved to include more strength training (3-4 x a week), 1-2 days of plyometric and agility training, and only one day of steady state cardio. The changes I’ve made to my exercise routine has had a noticeably positive impact on my day-to-day energy levels. I’ll readily admit that my diet in 2017 has been all over the place - there have been months where I barely cooked a single meal at home. Although I was in the moving and home-remodeling process, this isn’t an excuse. As our home remodeling was winding down, I’ve been back to giving my body the foods that it wants - and that I want. The biggest difference between eating out for every meal and preparing my own food is knowing what I’m putting into my body.

2. Mental (Needs Improvement, But Look Out 2018!)

An important part of mental health is the ability to quiet your mind, one of the main teachings of mindfulness practices. My mind is always going, going, going. I’ve tried meditation, but always  stop and make excuses for not continuing. I will, however, give myself credit for taking more walks this year than I have during any other year since living in San Francisco (thanks to Justine for convincing me to make this a habit). I’ve used walking as a way to take breaks from work, deal with stress, and most of all, to calm racing thoughts. After 10-30 minutes, I can go back to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my to-do list, which brings me to the next component of mental hygiene…my worst enemy, taking breaks from technology. I feel like I, along with many others, have been getting worse at this over the years. I don’t know if it’s the increasing amount of tech in my life - like my Apple Watch, which alerts me of things even when I may not want to be alerted of things - or that I’ve just become a full-blown addict. Sometimes I feel like I need to go to cell phone rehab (this actually exists...). I’ve been more aware of my attachment to electronics, so I’ve begun setting my phone on Airplane Mode whenever possible. If I can manage to consistently unplug from technology, and especially my phone, I can improve what I believe is the most critical element of maintaining my mental health: staying present. Living in the moment is something everyone should strive for, but it’s always going to be a work in progress. We just have to find the things that will help us achieve this!

3) Emotional and Spiritual Health (The Most Important Player in Your Energy and Health)

This is the secret sauce. Without this, you can’t have the motivation or commitment to improve in the other two areas. Why do I say this? Well, it starts with the work you do because that’s what we spend most of our time doing! If we’re not enthusiastic, passionate, and committed to the work we do, how can we be spiritually and emotionally connected to ourselves or others? For some of you reading this, you know what I’m talking about. I’m proud to say that I love what I do, and I know I’m making a difference in my industry and in others’ lives because my work is connected to my values. My core values are social connection, movement, camaraderie, and balance. I get to live by my values every day in my line of work, and I’m grateful to have had that opportunity. The one area I need to work on is making sure I consistently make time for activities outside of work. I plan on making an improved effort by assigning myself days of the week to enjoy things that are not work-related, like golf, hikes, and concerts.

What this all boils down to is: reflection. Take some time to reflect on these categories, or come up with some of your own. Allow yourself to simply observe where you can improve, set a straightforward plan to do so, and most importantly, give yourself credit for what you’ve done well! Use this to make an even better plan for 2018.


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4 Tips for Rehabilitation

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4 Tips for Rehabilitation

Many people who have pain from injuries, accidents, disease or just the activities of everyday life seek help to solve their problems. Often times, they’re able to see a physical therapist or another health practitioner who will diagnose what’s causing the pain, perform appropriate treatment, and give directions on how to proceed with rehabilitation. The practitioner may guide the patient in person through his or her rehab or may assign exercises for the individual to do at home at a certain frequency or for a specific length of time.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation are fantastic and help many people in pain, but they can at times be very monotonous and frustrating because being in pain is hard. Tasks and movements that were simple and taken for granted before now cause suffering and may even be impossible to do. Additionally, the rehabilitation process can be quite lengthy, especially if there is severe damage from injury or disease. Patients with pain often go through many emotional battles not just from the physical pain itself, but from the impact it can have on their lives.

But with diligence in rehabilitation, a strategic approach to the body, and the right mindset, most people can come out of pain. If you’re in pain, seek help from a health practitioner for guidance on what to do. And if you’re in the thick of recovery, hopefully, these tips can help you on your way.

1. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small.

If you were bedridden yesterday, be grateful that you can now get up. If you could barely stand yesterday, be excited about the fact that you can now jump. If you could slowly walk yesterday, be proud that you can now run. Even if you get up slow, or you don’t jump as high, or you don’t run as fast, progress is progress. Okay, we don’t usually heal overnight, but my point is that celebrating victories is about appreciating the details - maybe it hurts less when you try to touch your toes, maybe it used to hurt as soon as you lifted your arm and now it only hurts when you reach above your head. Manage your expectations and set realistic goals so that you won’t be disappointed and will stay motivated to keep pushing forward.

2. Don’t fight through the pain.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “no pain, no gain.” Maybe in the past, we’ve been pushed and pushed by coaches while we work out to “Fight through the pain!” Understand that (hopefully) these are references to pushing through challenge and muscle “burn” and not the literal pain that we feel as sharpness, numbness, or tingling. If an exercise is causing pain, stop doing it. Pain is our body’s way of communicating that we’re putting ourselves at risk of harm, so if an exercise is causing pain, don’t do it, or regress the exercise. Do an easier version that doesn’t trigger symptoms and master that movement before attempting a harder progression. If an exercise is challenging and you feel your muscles working hard, then that’s great - you should practice that, and make sure that you’re getting plenty of rest and recovery as well.

3. Balance the injured and uninjured.

Lots of patients, very commonly, have an injury on only one side. For example, you might have sprained your ankle and then seen a practitioner. He or she recommends that you allow for some rest for healing and so that inflammation can go down and when that’s better, to do mobilization and strengthening exercises, then maybe some balance, stability and even plyometric work. This is all great and it helps with recovery, but what often happens is the formerly injured side heals and becomes better - stronger, more mobile, and more stable - than the uninjured side. While you do your rehab exercises, give both sides, including the healthy side, some love so as to ensure balance and symmetry.

4. Consistency, consistency, and consistency.

At the end of the day, successful rehab comes down to consistency. As with working out, you don’t get results with one good workout. You have to work out consistently, eat nutritious and healthy food consistently, and sleep well consistently to see results over time. You have to do rehab exercises daily because often times you’re trying to break strong compensation patterns, rebuild atrophied muscle, restore stability to important joints, and generally fix biomechanics. It takes great treatment, smart rehab prescription, careful but effective integration and a lot of diligence and commitment to healing and movement to get a worthwhile, long-term result.


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#HowIPerformForLife : Meilin

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#HowIPerformForLife : Meilin

When did health and wellness become an important part of your life?

I think a little over a year ago. I realized that I had to put more emphasis on my health and just like me for my well-being.

How do you feel about it now?

I struggle with it a lot still. I grew up focusing on weight as a sign of health and so I still have to come to terms with the fact that the number on the scale doesn’t equate to healthy or fit.

Have you had any proud moments here?

Yeah when I was still seeing Amber twice a week, I had a lot of proud moments. I didn’t have any weight training prior to this. One day would just be squats and deadlifts. Every time I set a personal record, I was so proud of myself. And I eat breakfast now! I never did [before]. I’m not usually a big breakfast person. I wake up so early for work, I don’t usually have time to make breakfast the morning of.

How do the things you do in the gym translate to your life?

I think most of all it provides me with a more positive outlook. Working out is a way of treating myself better, and so that helps me be more positive and have a better perspective on myself in general.


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10-Day Ketogenic Diet Challenge

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10-Day Ketogenic Diet Challenge

Happy July!  I hope you all are enjoying the summer months.  As an exploration for myself this weekend, I decided to try a ketogenic diet (high fat, adequate protein, very low carbohydrate). I’m one week in and I’d like to give you a day-by-day look at my experience.  But first, why subject yourself to this?  Carbs are so tasty, how have I been able to resist?

A Brief History & Overview of the Diet

There are always new fad diets circulating in popularity, and San Francisco has no shortage of people willing to try them. Ketogenic diets are different, though, because they have then been around for thousands of years. Ketogenic diets have long been present in aboriginal cultures from throughout the world.  Indeed, many native peoples have, sometimes by necessity or circumstance, had to survive on low carbohydrate, high-fat diets. The most recent and memorable introduction of the diet to the west would, of course, be the Atkins Diet.

When first confronted with this diet, I was not very intrigued - eating high amounts of fat simply sounded unpleasant.  And I looove fruit!!!  It was only after I better understood the mechanism by which it affects the body and advantages to the diet itself that I decided to give it a try.

The goal of the ketogenic diet is this: to get the body in a state of “nutritional ketosis” in which the body is safely and effectively producing and utilizing ketones as its energy source.  Ketones are an energy source that comes from fatty acids.  Your body can run on ketones much in the same way it can run on glucose. When your body is in a state of ketosis, it's essentially in fat-burning mode, instead of the usual carbohydrate-burning mode.  Obviously, this can be a great strategy for losing excess body fat, but there are many other benefits, including increased cognitive clarity, better appetite control, increased performance in endurance related events, and the list goes on.

Sounds like a great idea to try.  So why don’t more people experiment with this diet?  Well as it turns out, your body is quite reluctant to go into ketosis!  It varies person to person, but the general consensus is that it takes weeks or more to adapt after weeks of low carbohydrate consumption.  Numbers range, but 20 - 30 grams of net carbs seems to be a general consensus.  And there can be no “cheat days.”  Eating a carbohydrate-laden meal can boot you right out of ketosis and send you back to square one.  Furthermore, one must also limit the amount of protein consumed, as it can be converted into glucose, like carbs. So, your diet must be heavy in fat – somewhere in the range of 75-90% of your daily calories.  That’s a lot of fat!

I am about 10 days into the ketogenic diet.  I’d like to share my observations:

The Good:

  1. The diet has made me very aware of my carbohydrate intake.  This awareness will no doubt allow me to make better decisions about what to eat long after the diet is over.
  2. Overall, I seem to be experiencing less inflammation in my body and less bloating after meals.
  3. There has been a noticeable decrease in fat around my belly and “love handles.”

The Bad:

  1. Eating a high quantity of fat is not enjoyable for me.  I really love the taste of fruit and I wish I could have some peaches or cherries
  2. My energy levels fluctuated a lot for the first week.  Adapting to high fat, low carbohydrate can be a difficult transition, to say the least.

The Ugly:

  1. Working out has been difficult as transitioning from glucose to ketones is a BIG jump.
  2. I could feel an overall higher level of stress in my body over the first 7 days.  I really felt off.

So far, it's been an interesting journey.  The individuals I’ve met that have adopted a ketogenic diet have all raved about its benefits (increased stamina, mental clarity, etc), but have warned me that it takes some time to get there.  So far, I can say with surety that I’m not there.  The last 10 days have been interesting, but overall, not a pleasant experience.  I figure that I’ll stay on the program for another week or so, and then most likely dive headfirst into some carbs.

A final note: everyone is built differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all diet.  

Ketogenic diets are difficult to maintain, but do have some promising benefits.  That being said, it’s not an easy process, and for some, it will not be the right choice. Some people, due to their metabolism or physical routines, will do much better on a diet heavy in carbohydrates. Figuring out what’s best for you is always going to take experimentation, and it will almost always be a dynamic process - the metabolic demands of you today versus you ten years ago are quite different, and the metabolic demands of you when you’re stressed versus not stressed are also quite different.  When it comes to food, no diet book will ever compare to your own food logging and your own observation. I hope this helped clarify ketogenic diets for you all, and gave you all some insight into whether or not they could be beneficial for you!



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