Sleep well to live well!

sleep well

“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” Thomas Dekker

In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we tend to forget about one very vital ingredient to a healthy life and that is sleep. We give ample importance to our job, entertainment, family and friends but we forget about underlying factors that keep us healthy and active to perform our daily duties.

Do you suffer from sleepless nights or sleep difficulties? An occasional spell of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about. The bigger concern is chronic sleep loss which can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power, reports the Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

According to Health.com, following are few health benefits that researchers have discovered about a good night’s sleep:

Improves memory:  During sleep you can strengthen memories or practice skills learned while you were awake. If you’re trying to learn something new, whether it’s French or a new sports, you’ll surely perform better after sleeping.

Controls inflammation: Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get less sleep. i.e. six or fewer hours a night, possess higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more.

Stimulates creativity: Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may help spur the creative process. No matter if you are a student or a professional, one of the key factors to your creativity is good sleep.

Improves metabolism: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.

Reduces stress: Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do. Good night sleep makes you relaxed and reduces stress level. It also curbs mood disorder and depression.

Life has become too competitive. Late night entertainment, eleventh hour studies, hangout with friends, finishing office projects etc. all is important. Sure, we all live a very busy life but it is vital that we prioritize our tasks and manage our time in a way that we do not compromise on the essential requirements to stay active. Stop taking caffeine to keep you arouse till late nights and start living a healthy and active life by sleeping well. Stay Active!

Advertisements

Mind in action!

creative-brain-at-work 1You must have experienced occasional forgetting moments. For example entering the kitchen, not remembering why you entered or after leaving home, forgetting whether you locked the door or not or difficulty in recalling a familiar name during a conversation etc. There is no harm if it is rare but regular behavior like this probably indicates that there is something wrong, isn’t it? Usually people associate memory lapse and significant memory loss with ageing however old age is not an only cause of cognitive decline.

One of the vital components of staying active is how to keep our mind active, think positive, be creative and utilize intellect to contemplate on what goes around us. Physical exercise is one way that helps in attaining an effective mind but there are several other ways and activities through which we can keep our mind active, increase memory, improve problem-solving skills and boost creativity. After doing some research on Harvard Medical school website and Askmen.com, I found several ways through which we can protect and sharpen our minds. I have already started following some of these tips and now sharing few of those here:

Keep learning: Read books, take courses or learn a new language. Research has proven that indulging oneself in lifelong learning can help keeping memory strong and concentration long. Instead of watching TV during your spare time, read a book. Reading helps you exercise your cognitive skills and increase your vocabulary. Do it regularly and you’ll be amazed at the information you absorb, which will make you a more interesting communicator.

Watch quiz shows: If you watch TV, try to watch quiz shows and participate with the on screen participants i.e. answer before they answer. This way you will test your memory and improve your knowledge.

Practice Meditation: Yoga or meditation has great calming and relaxation qualities. By concentrating, you will be able to control all your muscles and your breathing. You’ll find your worries slide away, giving your mind a rest from stress.

Contemplate: It is important to observe, contemplate and create possible links between interrelated circumstances. No matter if you are reading, watching news or simply talking with someone, reflect and ask yourself questions containing WHY and HOW elements in it. It improves thinking and problem solving skills.

Play number games and crosswords: Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Play chess, crossword puzzles, Sudoku etc. while commuting, such activities will keep your mind active.

Engage in debates: A lively discussion can be invigorating. Challenge your mind to provide reasoning on the pros and cons of a particular issue with a friend and you will find yourself practicing quick-thinking skills, logic and creativity.

Believe in yourself: Last but most important, have confidence in yourself. Self belief keeps oneself stimulated to improve and translate his belief into action. You can apply all the above tips only if you are motivated to keep your mind sharp so have self confidence!

Positive energy via exercise!

We know that working out helps us keeping our weight down, heart healthy and all body systems work. It also provides endurance, strength and flexibility to the physical body; but one of the most important benefits of regular exercising is a positive impact on our mind. It helps improving mood, concentration, confidence and bring positive energy to our mind and soul.

If I tell you that doing regular workout helps you become happier than eating French fries, what would you do? That is correct, it is one of the best medicines for dejection. Physically fit people show significantly fewer symptoms of sadness than inactive people. Exercise releases endorphin and increases alpha waves activity to the brain which clears your mind and helps you focus.

I found this interesting video which talks about how exercise brings positive energy into one’s life and how easily can one make it a part of his everyday life:

 

Power of will – Fitness success stories!

Mahatma Gandhi has once said: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

In my opinion, same applies to fitness. A combination of commitment, will power and hard work is what brings an individual close to success on the path of fitness. There are several people around us who inspire us for various challenges in life. You must have heard, “When there is a will, there is a way”. I have seen people losing tremendous amount of weight and coming into shape during their weight loss program. Of course it was not easy for them but they worked hard in the gym, changed their diet pattern, trusted their will and did everything possible to achieve success in their endeavor.

When we talk about success stories, we may simply get power of will from people fighting with cancer. They truly give me a lot of inspiration. Despite such difficult and painful situation, they work very hard to stay positive in order to defeat their disease.

For fitness, I usually follow celebrities and see what they are doing in their personal lives to stay healthy and look fabulously smart on screen. Thanks to Shape.com, I found few interesting facts about how various celebrities shed their pounds by following a strict diet and work out regime. I will share few success stories, for more you can visit their site:Drew-Barrymore

Drew Barrymore: Having spent nearly her entire life in the spotlight, Drew Barrymore has shown that a healthy lifestyle is the secret to long-lasting weight loss success. Through frequent portion-controlled meals, yoga and running, Drew Barrymore has transformed herself from flab to fab.

alecbaldwinss

Alec Baldwin: Diagnosed as pre-diabetic, 53-year-old Alec Baldwin shed 30 pounds in four months by giving up sugar which, according to him, was truly a battle. To stay fit, he does Pilates and Spinning and would like to add more yoga to his workout regime.

 

JordinSparksWeightLossJordin Sparks: This American Idol alum achieved 35 pounds of weight loss success by starting slow with a simple walk around her neighborhood, gradually increasing speed until she was ready to climb a mountain near her home. When on tour the slender singer turns to Zumba for cardio. Great, isn’t it?

kimkardashianssKim Kardashian – She was never fat but she shed a little weight, by cutting junk food, eating breakfast daily and hitting the gym. Kim Kardashian is the picture of healthy weight loss success. “I watch my calories and exercise. I can honestly say I’m in the best shape of my life!” says Kim.

Inspiring, isn’t it? So what are you waiting for, make a commitment with yourself and show the power of your will to achieve fitness success. Stay Active!

 Photos courtesy: Shape.com

Benefits of Yoga!

One of the most effective ways of staying active is practicing yoga. It is the physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline that aims to transform body and mind. Many studies have tried to determine the effectiveness of yoga as a complementary intervention for cancer, schizophrenia, asthma, and heart disease. [1]

Yoga is a great way to work on your flexibility and strength. It relieves stress and makes you stay calm. It boosts immunity, improves creativity, fights food cravings, enhance sexual performance, ease migraines,  helps in breathing, assists in reducing high blood pressure and high cholesterol.[2] There are plenty of reasons for how yoga makes your life better.  In summary, this amazing workout helps to improve mental and physical health, heal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay.

When it comes to yoga techniques, I am a big fan of Shilpa Shetty. You may find multitude of techniques online that may help you to learn it. To start with, I would like to share this 15 minutes quick fix yoga by Shilpa Shetty in which you will be able to see a good combination of few yoga techniques for improving physical and mental health.

Strengthen shoulders with ABC!

Other than looking good, strong shoulder helps you stay healthy and fit. It assists you in daily tasks that require strong upper body. For example, mowing lawn, holding child, carrying heavy shopping bags, lifting something heavy from the floor and placing it at the top of the shelf etc.

Active.com suggests an excellent workout to strengthen shoulders with the help of a medicine ball. Its a great exercise to put shoulder muscles through a full range of motion. This one can be tough, so start out just by going partially through the alphabet, and then work your way up to the full A through Z.

You’ll need a medicine ball for this exercise, but don’t worry if you don’t have access to one. Use a gallon jug that’s partially to completely full, or fill a bag with sand and weigh it (say one to four pounds, depending on your shoulder strength).

ShoulderABC1

Start in a “relaxed stance.” Take the medicine ball and support it in both hands out in front of your body. Maintain a slight bend to your elbows throughout this exercise. Start “drawing” the alphabet one letter at a time. You do this by rotating your arms, from the shoulders only, in the pattern of the specific letter, starting with the letter A. Make nice big, full letters with big motion so that your shoulders get lots of work and a full range of motion.

When you first start doing this exercise, it’s best to start with a very light weight (say one or two pounds at the most) to see how your shoulders tolerate this exercise. Your letters should range no higher than your head, and no lower than your waist. All letters are formed out in front of your body. Keep those arms straight, with just a slight bend at the elbows.

A sweet tooth treat!

Who doesn’t have a sweet tooth? From Ice cream to custard, dessert in any form is favorite part of my meals and I can even sacrifice a meal to have my favorite dessert. But beware! Eating high calories dessert on regular basis can throw all your workout efforts and achievements into drain. Be selective while eating any meal but when it comes to dessert, be extra careful as it bring a lot of fats and carbohydrates in it.

Health conscious people usually prefer to take fruits as a healthier option, to satisfy their cravings for sweet dish. But sometimes you deserve to be pampered and treated special after long weeks of commitment, hard work and sweating.

Dessert with dark chocolate is my weakness so I am sharing one delicious recipe with you which you can also enjoy at your special moments:

Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes with Mocha Sauce – Recipe By: Eating well

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, (60-75% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons  light cream
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water, divided
  • mini-molten-chocolate1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1-3 teaspoons very hot water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously coat the mini muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place chocolate and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High for 1 minute. Stir well, then continue microwaving on Medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until the remaining chocolate melts completely.
  3. To prepare filling: Stir together granulated sugar, cream and half the espresso mixture in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High just to steaming, 20 to 40 seconds. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add corn syrup and half the melted chocolate (reserve the other half for the batter); stir until completely smooth. Cover and transfer to the freezer until cold and firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. To prepare batter: When the filling has been chilling for 20 minutes, whisk egg, oil, vanilla, salt and the remaining espresso mixture in a medium bowl until very smooth. Return the remaining chocolate mixture to the microwave. Microwave on Medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until just warm again (do not overheat). In two batches, whisk the egg mixture into the warm chocolate until well blended. Sift confectioners’ sugar, flour and cocoa over the batter and whisk in just until smoothly incorporated.
  5. To assemble cakes: Remove the filling from the freezer. Spoon half the batter into the mini muffin cups, about 1 rounded teaspoon per cup. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon filling onto the center of each (reserve the rest for the sauce). Divide the remaining batter evenly among the muffin cups, about 1 rounded teaspoon per cake. Smooth out the batter to cover the filling.
  6. Bake the cakes on the middle rack for around 6 to 9 minutes, until the edges look dry and puffed but the centers still look very underdone and pudding like. Let cool on a wire rack until firm, about 2 minutes. Place a cutting board on top of the pan and invert the mini cakes out onto it. If the cakes are stuck to the pan, run a knife around and under them to loosen.
  7. To prepare sauce & serve: Thoroughly stir very hot water into the reserved filling, 1 teaspoon at a time, until very smooth and slightly fluid. Serve the warm cakes drizzled with the sauce.

Serve the cakes with a scoop of low-fat coffee ice cream and garnish with a chocolate-covered espresso bean, if desired.

NUTRITION FACTS: Total 6 servings, 2 cakes each

Calories 244, Total Fat 17 g, Saturated Fat 7 g, Monounsaturated Fat 3 g, Cholesterol 49 mg, Sodium 64 mg, Carbohydrate 27 g, Fiber 2 g, Protein 3 g, Potassium 30 mg. Exchanges: Other Carbohydrate 2,Fat 3.

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet