How to sleep better: My tips and tricks

happy birthday to you

Can we talk about sleep for a minute?  I have been really struggling for the past month or so with my sleep.  March was a rough month.  There were nights when I was barely getting 3 to 4 hours of sleep per night.  This is not healthy for anyone especially if you have a past history of seizures.  I tried taking some natural treatment like calms forte and melatonin, but these did not work for me.  So I had to resort to a sleeping aid to get my body back on track (doctor’s orders).  I do not like taking any type of medication, so this was a struggle for me.  Now that I am back on track with my sleep I am going to work on better sleep hygiene.  It’s just like working out, it’s something we need to do for our bodies and minds. Here are some tips and suggestions if you have trouble sleeping or bouts of insomnia.

First off relax!  If you are like me and you have a few nights of no sleep you can easily get anxious or stressed out.  Just relax.  If you always associate negative feelings with going to sleep and worry that you may not be able to sleep it will keep you awake.  Try writing in your journal before bed, listening to mediation guides (I love sleep ezy tonight on youtube), or pray.

I take some supplements to help me sleep as well.  Magnesium supplements can help the calm your nerves and lessen anxiety.  I take my supplement Magnesium Glycinate about 1 hour prior to going to bed.  It can also help with muscle soreness.  If you prefer you can take an Epsom salt bath with some lavendar essential oils to increase your magnesium.

Limit caffeine.  This is a big one for me.  I cannot even have decaf coffee after a certain point in the day.  I make sure I drink my coffee before 10 am.  I am very strict about this.   I only drink two cups per day.

Eat!  Don’t go to bed hungry. However, don’t eat a large meal too close to bedtime.   If you are hungry eat something small before bed that contains tryptophan.  Like turkey slices, eggs, or sip warm milk.  I like to steam a cup of almond milk with some cinnamon and turmeric and sip on that before bed if I am still hungry.

Exercise.  Be sure you are getting enough exercise.  Include a variety of daily exercise including interval training, strength training, yoga and walking.

Make your room a comfortable sleep environment.  If I get too hot I cannot sleep, so I keep my room cool.  The ideal temperature is between 60-67 degrees.  I prefer 64 degrees.  Use blackout curtains if your room is too light and make sure you have a comfortable bed and pillows.

Get some down time.  For me I have to have at least an hour before bed for some down time to just relax and so something to calm your mind and body.  Maybe you watch HGTV like I do or maybe you read a book.  Do what you need to do to wind down before bed.

One last note about technology.  Try to avoid using technology too close to bed.  Stay off your computer and your phone if you can.

One last thing (I really need to work on this one)!  If you can’t sleep get up and go to another room and try to relax.  Maybe read a book, meditate, or make a list of what is on your mind.  If you lay in bed and stare at the clock you will just become anxious and stressed and then you really will have trouble falling asleep.

I am still working on a lot of these areas in my own life.  I hope that these tips will help you get a good night’s sleep!

Of course I am not a doctor and these are merely tips and suggestions that work for me.  Always seek your doctor’s advice before starting any type of supplements or sleep aids.

Orange Theory Inspired Workout

Hi Guys, for the past few months I have been trying to change-up my workouts especially my running.  Sometimes I get in a rut and need to switch things up a bit.  So for the past few months my hubby and I have been going to Orangetheory Fitness.  It opened up at the about 2 months ago and I had heard about it from friends and I had to try it out.  If you are not familiar with Orangetheory Fitness it is a heart rate based interval training workout.  Workouts incorporate the treadmill, rowing machine, and weight training to give you a full body workout and get your heart pumping.  It is a group atmosphere so you can be pushed by a friend, inspired by a neighbor or just have the support you need from the other members around you.  As a group fitness instructor myself I often find that I need to be inspired and pushed by others as well, so that is why I decided to give OT a try.

 

Now, if you don’t have an OT studio in your area, have no fear I have an OT inspired workout you can give a try at the gym or at home.  This is inspired by some of the workouts I have done at the studio and then done at the gym when I don’t have time to get to an OT class.  I hope you enjoy the workout.  It’s a good one!

The Warm Up (repeat as many times as you can for 5 minutes)

  • Body Weight Squats
  • Push Ups
  • Full Sit Ups
  • Jumping Jacks

Strength Training Section (15 Minutes)  Focus on using a lighter weight for more reps.

  • Squats
  • Bicep Curls
  • 1 Push Ups with Alternating Reaches (Bird Dog)

Treadmill Workout (15 Minutes)

  • Jog 2 Minutes at a comfortable pace
  • Run 2 Minutes at a harder pace (about 1-2mph faster than easy pace)
  • Jog 1 Minute to recover
  • Run 2.5 Minutes at a harder pace
  • Jog 1 Minute to recover
  • Run 3 Minutes at a harder pace
  • Jog 30 Seconds to recover
  • Sprint 1 Minute (this should be a difficult pace, faster than your hard pace)
  • Recover 2 Minutes at a Jog or Fast Walk

Rowing Section (if you don’t have access to a rower, you can bike or do the elliptical for time).  You will need a weight for this section.  Keep it near your machine.

Do as many rounds as you can for 15 minutes.

  • Row 400 Meters
  • Sumo Squat (hold weight between your legs, wide stance)
  • Deadlift
  • Row 600 Meters
  • Sumo Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Row 800 Meters
  • Sumo Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Row 1000 Meters

Cool Down and Stretch

Orange Theory Inspired Workout

Do Not Be Afraid

Good morning!  I am getting ready to meet up with some friends for my Sunday run.  This weekend was a cold and rainy weekend.  Last night the hubby and I cuddled up with a bit of popcorn, wine and a movie.  This ,is a bit of a side note but I love popcorn!  I could eat a giant bowl all by myself.  My favorite way to enjoy it is when my hubby makes it the old fashioned way using a giant pot on the stove with coconut oil.  I sprinkle it with sea salt and it is sooooo good!

Many of you may not know that I was diagnosed with epilepsy about 8 years ago.  This has been a real journey for me.  I am planning to share bits of my story on this blog hoping that it helps with my healing process and inspires other people as well.  I suffer from catamenial epilepsy which is when your seizures happen around your menstrual cycle.  This form of epilepsy is unique and for me difficult to understand.  Sharing my story and my condition has been very hard.  Some of my close friends do not even know I have it.  I have been thinking long and hard about sharing my story and the thing that stands out in my mind is fear.  I have decided it is time to get over this fear!  In the Bible the phrase “do not be afraid”  is written 365 times.  I need to remind myself that I need to live my life every day without fear and know that God has a plan for me and I need to trust it.  Have an amazing Sunday!  I am off for my run with friends, which basically is my therapy session.

 

Chocolate Brownie Energy Ball Recipe (Raw, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Grain Free)

Happy Friday and Happy Earth Day!  My youngest daughter’s Birthday is today!  You may recall that my older daughter had a Birthday last week too.  So it’s been a bit crazy around here and we have had a lot of sweets showing up in the form of cupcakes and cake.  So I whipped up a batch of my healthy brownie bites today to curb that sweet tooth and avoid devouring too many cupcakes later at her party!

I have been experimenting with a lot of healthy brownie alternatives lately. Can you tell I have been craving brownies? I am a big fan of Larabars for my pre-workout energy, but they can be pretty spendy depending on where you buy them. So I started making my own which is much more budget friendly. They are super easy and quick to make and you can keep them in your fridge for a quick pick me up before your workout. My friend Wendy gave me a recipe for a brownie bite, so I made a few tweaks and came up with this recipe. Give these a try and let me know what you think!Brownie Energy BItes

Chocolate Brownie Energy Ball Recipe

(Raw, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Grain Free)  Makes 16 Balls (1 tbs size)

1 1/2 Cups Walnuts or Almonds (I used raw almonds)

Pinch of salt

1 cup pitted dates

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Scoops Protein Powder (optional)

*Other optional add-ins: Maca Powder, Chia Seeds, Ground Flax or Coconut

In a food processor pulse the nuts and the salt until finely ground. Add the dates, vanilla, cocoa powder and protein powder and blend or pulse. The mixture may be a bit dry at this point so you may have to add water slowly until the mixture becomes sticky. I added almost a ¼ cup of water, but I also added the protein powder. Scoop the mixture into about a tablespoon size ball (I like a to use a small ice cream scoop) and roll them. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (they don’t last that long at my house). You now have a quick easy pre-workout snack or a little after dinner dessert treat!

Total Body Insane Bootcamp Workout

Wow!  My legs hurt today.  Tuesday was a fun and challenging workout.  For the month of April I have been really trying to emphasize core and total body in my classes that I teach two times a week.  This workout combines high intensity interval training, total body strength training, and core conditioning.  You can do this workout at the gym or at home.

Materials you will need for the workout:  Weights (dumbbells), Mat Towel, Water

Workout:  Complete each set of exercises 3 times.  1st set 45 seconds, 2nd set 30 seconds, final set 20 seconds.   Always finish your workout with your favorite cool down moves and some stretches.  I like to incorporate some yoga stretches like the pigeon, downward facing dog and cobra.

Bootcamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Brownie Bites Vegan and Gluten Free

Happy Monday!  It’s been a Birthday frenzy at my house.  Both my daughters have Birthday’s in April and while I love cake, especially frosting, I cannot eat cake for every party we have.  I did indulge a bit in this beautiful cake my mom made for my daughter Chloe, but I paid the price later.  I am pretty sensitive to dairy and this cake had a whipped cream frosting, which was very yummy!  I cannot eat a lot of dairy or I pay the price.  So I searched the internet and found a few recipes and made a few tweeks and came up with a super yummy brownie bite recipe.  These brownie bites feature 4 simple ingredients and are quick and easy to prepare.  I will say that if you are used to eating the “real deal” brownie bites, this is not going to taste the same.  Depending on the protein powder you use it will change the taste and texture.  One of my daughters ate 3 of them, the other did not like them at all.  I really enjoyed them, but I don’t usually eat a lot of super sweet foods.  My hubby plans to top them with a bit of peanut butter or real whipped cream!  So next time you have a party or an event and need to bring a dessert give these brownies a try. Or just make a batch when you have a major chocolate craving!

Healthy Brownie Bite Recipe (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Makes 15 Brownie Bites (I used a mini muffin tin)

3 Ripe Bananas

½ Cup Nut Butter (I used almond butter)

4 Scoops Orgain Protein Powder (2 Servings)

4 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder

Optional:  Stevia to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin or 9×13 pan with non-stick coconut oil spray.  In a food processor or mixer blend bananas, nut butter, protein powder and cocoa powder until smooth and fully incorporated.  Scoop the mixture into your pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool and enjoy!

Tank Top Arm Strength and Run Workout

This morning my friend Rachel and I changed our run up a bit.  We usually just meet and go for a longer run or do hill repeats.  We wanted to incorporate and arm workout while still getting a few miles in.  This was a great workout.  I will definitely be feeling my arms tomorrow.

Start off with a 1 mile warm up run.  Then complete the strength exercises using heavy weights.  Weights should be heavy and you should have a hard time getting in all of the reps.  You may need to go to a lower weight to finish.  First set complete 12 reps, second set 10 reps and final set 8 reps.  Between each set do the running workout.

Tank Top Arms

Pre-Run Warm Up

Hi Everyone!  I got the opportunity on Saturday to do the pre-race warm ups for the  Cause and Event Race series.  There are three runs.  A kid’s fun run and a 5k run and 10k.  So here is my question for the runners out there.  Do you have a pre-race warm up routine?  If not, you should.  I am just as guilty as the next person, sometimes I get caught up in the excitement of the race that I forget to do my pre-race warm up ritual.  I can totally tell a difference when I do it.  There are so many benefits to warming up, but here are just  a few that I find very beneficial.  First, it will lead to a successful race.  I have proof of this in some of my race times and how I feel.  It can prepare your body both physically and mentally.  For me, it just makes me feel better during my run because I don’t feel so stiff and tense.  Your pre-race warm up doesn’t have to be long.  It can be a short jog, a few strides, or you can do a warm up like I did for the run.  One suggestion I have is not do static  stretching before your race.  Save this for after the race when you really need it

One more tip, show up to the race early so you have time to warm up!  Sometimes I am running to the start line pinning on me bib number.  NOT GOOD!

Complete the following exercises for 8-10 reps or 30 seconds each before moving on to the next.  Your warm up should be approximately 3-5 minutes.

  • Arm Circles
  • Jog in Place
  • High Knees
  • Hi Skips In Place
  • Butt Kickers
  • Grapevine/Karaoke (if you have room)
  • Gate Swing or Squat In and Out
  • Side Lunges (be sure to do each side)
  • Lunges:  Pulse each leg
  • Side Stretches
  • Reach Down Toe Touches
  • Frankenstein/Toy Soldier
  • Leg Swings (both legs)

This may seem like a lot but it goes by pretty fast.  Feel free to shorten it or take out a few exercises if you need to .

Maca Superfood Powder

If you are not familiar with Maca it is a root that is an adaptogen and is getting a lot of buzz lately. I learned about it from my naturopathic doctor and started incorporating it into my diet.   Maca has a lot of benefits.  I am not a nutritionist, but here are a few things that I have noticed while incorporating it into my diet.

Benefits of Maca

  • Can help with PMS symptoms
  • Hormones and Sexual Health
  • Energy, Mood and Memory
  • Antioxidant

Now you are probably curious about how to incorporate it into your diet.  There are many ways to use it.  You can even make a drink out of it (I have not tried that).  My favorite ways to use it are in smoothies, stirred into oatmeal, topped on yogurt or smoothie bowls with a bit of granola, and I also mix some into my energy balls recipe I make (recipe link below).

Here is a link to my energy ball recipe:  https://livingthewrightway.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/pre-workout-eats/

Chocolate Banana Nut Butter Smoothie (1 serving)

1 Cup of Milk of Your Choice (I like unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

½ Small Frozen Banana

2 Tablespoons Nut Butter (I like peanut butter or almond butter)

1 Handful of Spinach

1 tsp maca powder (I use healthworks maca powder on Amazon)

1 scoop protein powder of choice (optional)

Ice (optional)

Blend all the ingredients together.  Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Lower Body, Cardio and Ab Interval Workout

Happy Friday ! Yesterday’s workout was a killer one!  My legs are still feeling it today especially when walking up stairs.  I thought I would share with you this killer workout.  I hope you all give this workout a try.  You can do it at home or at the gym.  Have a great weekend!  

Things you will need for the workout:

  • Weights 
  • Mat
  • Water
  • Towel (you will be sweating)

Lower Body and Ab Interval Workout

Warm Up:  

  • Jump Rope Series (we did not have ropes, so we faked them)
  • Regular Jump Rope 15 Seconds
  • Single Leg Jump Rope Right 15 Seconds
  • Single Leg Jump Rope Left 15 Seconds
  • Gate Swing or Air Squats 30 Seconds
  • Single Leg Swings 30 Seconds Each Leg
  • Alternating Side Lunges 30 Seconds

Complete exercises in each circuit for 30 seconds each.  Repeat 3 times or more if you would like.

Circuit 1

  • Skaters 
  • Squat with Alternating Side Kicks 
  • Single Leg Back Lunges Right 30 Seconds with weights
  • Single Leg Back Lunges Left 30 Seconds with weights 
  • Plank Pull Across (in plank pull weight across the body)

Circuit 2

  • Burpee with 8 Punches (come up from burpee stay low and jab right and left) 
  • High Knees
  • Weighted Goblet Squat
  • Push Up to a Side Plank add in a Knee Crunch or Just Regular Push Ups

Circuit 3

  • Squat Jacks
  • Sumo Squat with Alternating Leg Lifts (hold weights in front of chest or on shoulders) 
  • Weighted Abdominal Side Bends Right 30 Seconds
  • Weighted Abdominal Side Bends Left 30 Seconds

Core Circuit

  • Plank Jacks 30 Seconds
  • Forearm Plank (hold for 30 seconds)
  • Mt. Climbers
  • Forearm Plank (hold for 30 seconds)

Cool Down and Stretch (2-3 min)