COMFORT IS BEAUTY

Spring Allergies, Here We Come

The beauty of spring is often overshadowed by its negative side effect: spring allergies.  With budding trees, flowers, grasses and weeds come some horrible symptoms for millions of people who suffer from allergies.  Today we’re taking a look at what causes spring allergies and ways to reduce the symptoms so you can enjoy springtime.

If you want to blame someone or something for your allergies, it would have to be your immune system.  Allergies are an over-response from the immune system.  When you come into contact with harmful substances, your body works hard to defend itself and remain healthy.  Allergens are not actually a threat to the body, but your body perceives o-TISSUE-COUGHING-SNEEZING-facebookthem as such and goes into overdrive mode to protect you.  Most allergies form in childhood and once they are triggered, your body has the same response each time you come in contact with that allergen.  Sometimes allergies lead to more severe conditions like asthma, so treating your allergies or learning ways to cope with them is important for all allergy sufferers.

The most common indoor allergens are mold spores, pet dander and dust mites.  But in springtime, pollen from flowers, trees, grasses and weeds is the worst culprit of allergies.  Because pollen is the issue, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the pollen count in your area.  Avoid outdoor activities on days when the pollen count is highest, especially in the morning.  Also try to remain indoors on windy days when pollen will be extremely airborne.  Pawn off yard work to non allergy sufferers, but if you must be outside during high pollen season, wear a face mask and remove your clothes immediately afterwards.  For those with spring allergies, the best time to go outside is after a good rain.

You can take several measures in your home to avoid severe allergy symptoms too.  Use air conditioning in your home and car instead of rolling down the windows.  In your home, be sure your air filters are cleaned regularly.  Use a high efficiency particulate air vacuum to clean your home – it won’t spread the allergens you are trying to suck up back into the air.  Also use a dehumidifier to further assist keeping the air in your home free of allergens.

Many people rely on over-the-counter medications to help reduce symptoms of allergies.  There are several types recommended by allergists:  oral and inhaled antihistamines, decongestants and inhaled corticosteroids.  Antihistamines work well for many allergy sufferers in both a nasal spray and pill format.  They are not addictive but they may become less effective over time, meaning you should switch brands occasionally.  Antihistamines can cause drowsiness so if you are not taking it just before bedtime, find a non-drowsy brand.  Decongestants are meant for short term nasal and sinus issues, such as colds.  Although they may temporarily relieve congestion caused by allergies, taking them for longer periods of time can be dangerous.

There are also some natural remedies that work well for many people with spring allergies.  Consuming stinging nettle leaf, butterbur, apple cider vinegar or honey made in your area can all help reduce allergy symptoms.  Clearing your nasal passages may offer relief.  This can be achieved through steam showers, eating spicy foods, smelling strong aromas such as peppermint or eucalyptus oil or doing a nasal rinse. Probiotics should also help, in theory.  Much of immune health is based in the gut so balancing good flora in the intestines can support immune strength.

Spring allergies are no fun for anyone.  Hopefully with these tips you can find ways to reduce your spring allergy symptoms and enjoy the warm, beauty and radiance of springtime.

10 Reasons to Strengthen your Body that are NOT about Health or Appearance

full figure sports braStrength training is an important part of a well-balanced exercise regimen.  Many of us like to have toned muscles and it’s also good for our health.  But there are more practical reasons than pure health and aesthetics.  Today we’re sharing 10 reasons to strengthen your body that you may not have thought of before:

 

 1)  You can enjoy nature.

Visiting the oasis of a waterfall and climbing back up again, hiking up a mountain to enjoy beautiful views and creating a garden in your yard are a few of the wonderful parts of nature and spending time outdoors that are enhanced when your body is stronger.  Climbing, hiking and gardening require great leg strength, flexibility and balance.

 2)  You can walk better in heels.

Strong calf muscles and solid glutials are essential for walking in heels.  They support your foot on an elevated plane and allow the fluctuations required for stride.  If you wear heels daily and suffer the pain every night, strengthen your calves and bottom for a more comfortable experience.

3)  You can play harder with your kids.

As you know, your kids are non-stop.  And nothing is more fun than when mom plays too.  Playing chase, climbing on the jungle gym, crawling through forts and rolling around on the ground for a tickle match takes a lot of agility and stamina.  Plus, the normal bending over, squatting and kneeling to help your kids with school work and play takes strength as well.  Be the “down on the floor” kind of parent that meets your kids at their level.  All it takes is a little muscle and a lot of love.

4)  You will be better at sex.

Sex can be a heart-pumping workout but it is easier and perhaps more fun when your body is stronger.  Flexibility and stamina both come into play to enjoy a variety of positions for you and your partner.  This includes your legs, arms and core, especially the pelvic floor.

5)  You can stand longer.

Standing for a long time is hard work and takes strength.  And while you may not see the joy in standing in line to renew your license or to checkout at the grocery store, you probably do enjoy the standing and walking required to go shopping.  Bottom line here, with more strength, you can be a better shopper!

6)  You can eat more.

Building muscle helps burn through calories and fat all day long.  As we’ve all heard, muscle burns more calories than fat.  Strengthening muscles not only tones but revs the metabolism for a steady churn, even while at rest.  This resting metabolic rate is the energy you burn while not even moving…and the higher, the better.  With more muscle, you can eat more and indulge more without even noticing the effects on your body.

7)  You can dance better.

Whether you frequent dance clubs, attend a lot of weddings or enjoy partying in front of your mirror, dancing requires strength and stamina.  If you don’t want to get winded after one song, work on your lower body and core muscles.  For more advanced dancing like ballroom, ballet and break-dancing, you’ll need your upper body strength too.

8)  You can get there faster.

If you are the one who is perpetually in a hurry or running late, you are probably always trying to get somewhere fast.  Running into your office, your kids’ school or a doctor’s appointment will be quicker if you have more leg strength and cardio stamina.  You might not change your proclivity to run late but at least you can speed up your arrival with body strength.  Plus, you won’t be huffing and puffing when you get there.

9)  You can defend yourself.

Self defense is one of the most important reasons to keep your body strong.  Although it’s scary to consider, being approached by an attacker requires some quick thinking and body strength.  Attackers are most often males, and probably stronger than you, so knowing how to use your body to shield yourself, deliver a defensive blow and run away is crucial.  Whether or not you take formal self defense classes, you need body strength to protect yourself in emergency situations.

10)  You can squat hover over a toilet seat.

We’ve all been there:  you’re in dire need of a toilet and the only option looks like it could give you a serious disease.  So we employ the age old tactic of squatting over the toilet seat.  Guess what?  You need lots of quad, glute and hamstring strength to hold a static squat for that long.  Keep your bum clean by building those upper leg muscles.  You will surely be glad you did next time you do the toilet hover.

Full Figure Fashion Update: Spring Fashion 2015

Spring has sprung – We’re ready to shed the layers and get our wardrobes ready for the new season. How about you?  Today we’re brining you the latest full figure fashion update for spring 2015.  So, let’s hop right in!

Color

yellow_courtesy of ellecanada.comThe colors of the season are bold and a mix of classic combos along with modern hues.  Move over pastels because this spring calls for bright yellow for any piece in your wardrobe, from blouses and blazers, to dresses and slacks.  The classic black and white combo is in style for spring 2015 along with mixing true blue and white.  These color juxtapositions, especially in whimsical prints and patterns, a make a big statement.  Also look for white-on-white outfits and military green this season.


Prints & Fabrics

Modern gingham was all the rage at spring fashion week.  Spring-2015-Collections-Trends-Gingham-Plaid-Fashion-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-3Designers are taking a new twist on this classic print and bringing gingham to a new level.  Form-loving outfits including sexy suits, sassy dresses and two piece mid-drift ensembles are defining the new gingham look.  Denim is also back in full swing for spring 2015 in several styles, such as denim dresses, denim tops paired with denim skirts, pants and shorts, denim shoes, and roomy, wide-leg denim crop pants.  Or go native with funky colored suede or a wild full animal safari print.   Don’t be afraid to mix floral prints this season too.

Styles

spring_summer_2015_fashion_trends_1970s_fashion_fashionisersMany of the runway looks for spring are a subtle nod to the 1970s.  This hippie, meets bohemian, meets earthy look is breezy and easy-to-wear for all body types.  Military and sporty minimalism trends also popped up on the runway for spring 2015.  You may see jackets and skirts with lots of pockets, combat boots and sharp lines.  Plus you’ll notice sleek athletic-inspired fashion wear, even in traditional feminine garments.

In dresses, look for shirt-dress styles that offer a flattering empire waist or a flowing maxi with an interesting neckline.  Try a crop denim coat for casual wear this spring and go for a kimono-style flowing coat for any occasion.  Both are lightweight and right on trend.  Tops can also be blousy and experiment with an off-the-shoulder look for a playful change when the occasion is right.  Pants can be cropped, and culottes are sticking around for spring too.  Aprons as fashion statements are making a comeback over shorts, skirts and pants.

As you’re preparing your full figure fashion wardrobe for spring, don’t forget to update your bras too.  With the change of season when you buy new clothes, it’s a good time to re-evaluate which full figure bras are ready to be spring cleaned and tossed into the donation box and where your bra wardrobe is lacking.  New pieces in your closet may require different bras.  As always, Leading Lady is standing by to help enhance your spring wardrobe.

Happy Spring Shopping, Leading Ladies!!

Living with Passion

Untitled-1We are all happier and more productive in life when we are doing something we enjoy.  Put another way, living with passion makes us more whole.  This probably isn’t news to any of us.  But for most of us, finding how to live with passion and when to practice our passions is another story.

In our goal-oriented lives filled with responsibilities, figuring out ways of living with passion can be quite difficult. It definitely takes some soul searching and dedication.  Here are three tips for living with passion:

1)      Revisit the Past:  When we’re young living with passion was second nature.  We were constantly having fun and doing things we enjoyed.  And we were able to find passion in almost anything.  Take a journey backwards to remember what brought you joy throughout your life, even as a child.  Often passions emerge at a young age and you can strive to regain some of that passion by revisiting the past.  Spend some time meditating on the past, asking family members what you used to love to do, looking at old pictures of yourself or returning to places of your youth.  The sights, sounds and smells of childhood can help you find a common thread and reignite the youthful excitement you’re seeking.

passion2)      Identify your Passions:  Try to pinpoint what it is you are passionate about… And don’t be afraid to say it out loud.  Sometimes passions are hard to admit to ourselves because we may not see them stemming from a productive path or we may have strayed far from them already.  Let go of the “rules” you’ve established for denying your passions and really try to identify what brings you joy.  Once you come clean with yourself, let others know what you are passionate about.  Discussing passions with others will further engage you in pursing them and may spark ideas on how to live your dreams.  Some people create a “vision board” of pictures, writings and other things that keep them on the path towards their passions.

3)      Incorporate your Passions in your Everyday Life:  Life is very busy and you probably cannot quit your job and leave behind your responsibilities to singularly follow your passions.  But you can make a commitment to living with passion by incorporating what makes you happy into your existing lifestyle.  For instance:  Your passions can be fulfilled through volunteering if you can’t pursue them as a career – You may be an accountant but your passion is for nature so you can volunteer in ways to improve your environment or educate others about nature.  You can create space in your home to practice passions – such as creating an art studio, woodworking shop, movie theater or writing room.  You can join a group of people with a similar passion – perhaps who are training for a marathon or going back to school for an advanced degree.  Or you can research and role play, literally pretending you are “the best” at whatever you’re passionate about – like being a gourmet chef for a dinner party among friends or performing a one-woman show on open mic night.

Living with passion takes some work but it is well worth it. Life is too short for dissatisfaction and discontent.  Bring the passion back to your life, starting with these three steps.

We wish you much passion today and always!

How to Store Winter Clothes

It’s about time to pull out your capris, pastels and sandals to get your closet ready for spring.  But what’s a girl to do with all of her winter clothes when they are out of season?

Proper storage will maintain the integrity of your clothes while also giving you space for your spring wardrobe.  And by proper storage we don’t mean shoving sweaters, coats and thick pants into a cardboard box and not revisiting them again until next October.  Your fashionista detective skills worked tirelessly to curate your fabulous wardrobe so don’t let all that hard work go to waste by not ensuring your clothes are well taken care while not in use.  Here are some tips on how to store winter clothes during the off season:

Storage Containers:  There are a variety of options for storing clothes.  Cardboard boxes are not an ideal choice because they are acidic and the glue that binds them together often attracts bugs.  Plus, they are flimsy and while they may cost less now, you’ll definitely store winter clotheshave to replace them more often.  Spring for plastic containers with lids to keep your clothes sealed safely.  Be sure to pick a size that fits your storage space.  For instance, if you’re stacking boxes in your closet, large, deep rectangles work well.  For under the bed, shallow, long rectangles are preferable.  You may want boxes with wheels that are easy to slide out from tight space or moveable from room-to-room.

Alternatively, you can use storage containers you may already have at home.  Large comforter cases make great clothes storage bags.  They are malleable and can therefore fit in many types of spaces.  Suitcases are another terrific place to pack your off-season clothes because they are sturdy, spacious and you have to store them somewhere anyways.  If you have to keep your clothes in sight, opt for fun bins or baskets with patterns that match your home décor.  Place a blanket on top so it appears to be a basket of cozy rather than your entire winter wardrobe.

Storage Location:  Cool, dry and dark locales are the best storage places for your clothes.  You’ll want good air circulation as heat can damage clothing fibers.  Plus, direct sunlight can fade fabrics so a darker space is better.  Attics are tempting but can get very hot in the summertime.  If an indoor closet isn’t an option, see what storage space you can make in your garage.  Some crafty people hang tracks from the ceiling of their garage and dangle their storage bins overhead.  Be sure the space is accessible so you can check on your clothes every once in a while.  You’ll want to make sure there is no water damage or bug infestation.  Both of these problems can be remedied if discovered quickly.

Wash Clothes First:  Be sure to thoroughly clean your clothes before storing them.  Stains, dirt or even particles left on clothes can stain them permanently.  Bugs are also attracted to certain unclean scents that may linger on your wardrobe.  You’ll probably want to wash clothes again before wearing them the following season.

Organize:  Before you store winter clothes purge items that you haven’t worn in several years.  Someone else less fortunate could probably get more use out of it than you.  Also, pack like items together: sweaters with sweaters; pants with pants; etc…  Label your boxes so you know where to find things should the spring weather take a turn and you need to pull out a few items on the fly.  Put winter coats near the back of your storage space and potentially useful things closer to the front so they are more easily accessible.

Hang Only What You Must:  Hanging heavy clothes for too long can cause them to lose their shape or stretch.  Only hang items when it is completely necessary.  Always use an appropriate hanger for the garment.  Suits and coats will most certainly need sturdier and better padded hangers.  Use the loops on your clothes to reinforce them on the hanger.

It’s National Nutrition Month!

NNM_Logo_2015

March is National Nutrition Month, which is a great time to remind ourselves about healthy eating habits for ourselves and our families.  Designated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the goal of the campaign is to celebrate smart eating and physical activity to encourage a healthy body weight and lowered risk of chronic disease.  March couldn’t be a better time to ensure each of us is staying on track towards the healthy goals we set for ourselves earlier in the year.

This year’s theme of National Nutrition Month is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” which reminds us that healthy eating isn’t about restricting food, but more about making healthful choices.  That includes consuming fewer calories, eating nutrient-dense foods, reducing intake of non-nutritional foods, balancing diet with exercise and sustaining a healthy eating pattern.  National Nutrition Month advocates the MyPlate campaign set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture and supported by First Lady Michelle Obama.

There have been many evolutionary steps in what is considered a “balanced diet” throughout the years.  You probably remember them from health class.  Once we were taught the four food groups.  Then it evolved into the food pyramid.  Now, MyPlate provides a visual representation of how a balanced meal should look.  The ideal plate includes 1) varied vegetables, 2) lots of fruit, 3) protein with each meal, 4) grains, preferably whole grains, and 5) dairy.  All of these should be achieved during every meal within a healthy caloric allotment.

As most of us know, even within these healthy categories, not all foods are created equal, which is why diversity is essential.  For instance, carrots are a vegetable with more sugar but contain beta-carotene and additional nutrients hard to find in other vegetables.  Green leafy vegetables, or cruciferous vegetables, such as spinach, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage, are especially rich in nutrients and fiber, giving you a bigger bang for your buck.  The same is true of fruits.  Berries have vital antioxidants but are more sugary than apples and melons.  Both are important in a balanced diet in moderation.

When it comes to protein, the key is to go lean.  Chicken, fish, turkey and beans are examples of terrific lean proteins.  Preparation also matters.  Baking, grilling and sautéing food is always more healthful than drowning it in oil for frying.  Pork and beef can be consumed in moderation, and cuts that are “rounds” or are marked “choice” or “select” are considerably healthier than other parts of pigs and cows.

Good choices are also crucial for the last two categories, grains and dairy.  Whole grains such as whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, brown rice and quinoa pack in a ton of nutrients and will help satiate the body for longer than white breads, pastas and rice, which contains a lot of sugar.  Lean dairy includes low-fat milk, cottage cheese, yogurt and cheeses.  Diary can become a major source of unhealthy fats and calories if over-consumed, however a balanced quantity helps boost the metabolism and promotes healthy bacteria in the gut.

Healthful eating is all about having the right mindset.  Consuming a balanced diet isn’t about dieting and certainly is no longer for the sole purpose of weight loss.  Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen will strengthen the body in many ways, including boosting the immune system to keep chronic, life-threatening diseases at bay for a healthier future.  We hope you join us in celebrating National Nutrition Month and literally bite into a healthy lifestyle.

The Ultimate Full Figure Sports Bra

When you have large breasts, having the right coverage and support during exercise is crucial.  And we know firsthand how difficult it can be to find a great full figure sports bra.  Well, look no further, ladies.  Leading Lady is proud to offer the Ultimate Full Figure Sports Bra that features everything you need for your active lifestyle.

We believe that all bras should be comfortable and supportive.  Sports bras are certainly no exception.  In fact, sports bras should offer extreme support plus several other important features.  Leading Lady’s full figure sports bra is the solution to the plus size woman’s sports bra dilemma.

full figure sports braOur full figure sports bra allows you maximum mobility during exercise without the pain and discomfort of bounce.  With just the right amount of compression and a double layered cup, this bra keeps your breasts lifted and firmly in place.  The side seam and high-cut design are ideal for full figure women whose breasts tend to slip out of the sides or spill over the top of their bras.  That’s never attractive or comfortable, but even worse when trying to focus on exercise.

At Leading Lady, we know that one size does not fit all.  And one size may not even fit the same woman every day.  That’s why our full figure sports bra offers options.  The adjustable plush straps help you find daily comfort and you can decide between a traditional or racer back style.  The leotard back design ensures the straps stay in place so you won’t be worried about slippage during your workout.

Your sports bra should help you achieve your best in whatever exercise you choose.  And you’ll probably work up a sweat doing it.  Our full figure sports bra is made of breathable lightweight fabric and a sweat-wicking band to keep you cool during workouts.  It also helps relieve skin irritations caused by chaffing or pooling of excess sweat.

Looking good during your workout is important too.  The sleek design is made for the modern women, whether you’re hitting the gym, enjoying the great outdoors or doing your own hard core boot camp.  Our full figure sports bra comes in three color combinations to meet your personal style:  black with blue piping, pink with black piping or all white.  We’re pretty sure you’ll want to get all three to match all of your fitness outfits.

There you have it: our full figure sports bra is the ultimate in everything you need to look great and feel great while you exercise.  We hope you enjoy your workouts even more with this fantastic new addition to the Leading Lady collection.

Age-Defying Hair: Younger Looking Hairstyles

hairstyles-for-girls-age-14long-hairstyles-long-straight-hair-styles-df9evvlzMost women are on the never-ending quest to look younger.  We eat our antioxidants, moisturize twice a day and keep up with the latest fashion trends – all to knock a few years off our appearance.  But what if we told you your hairstyle can make you look younger too…years younger!  Yup, one way to achieve a more youthful appearance is through younger looking hairstyles.  No, we’re not talking pig tails here.  But slight variations can make a big difference in defying your age.  Check out these tips and tricks for younger look hairstyles:

Long and Strong:  Healthy long hair is not only youthful, it’s sexy and glamorous too.   Depending on your hair type, shorter hair tends to spazz at the ends, creating an unflattering shape around the face.  Instead, keep your hair long to add weight and avoid unsightly tips.  Also, ask your stylist to cut long, subtle layers to frame your face.

ShNice-Short-Bob-Hairstylesort with Volume:  If you don’t have the patience for long hair, ask for a voluminous short cut, such as a modern bob.  With the right layers angling towards the face, a chin-length cut can reverse the clock without making you look too juvenile.  Try uneven sides for an edgier look.

Gray Smay:  Coloring your hair can help you achieve a younger appearance, however many women love their natural graying color.  Plus, maintaining color treatments are costly and severely damaging to your hair.  If you choose to accept your gray hair, get a super trendy hair cut to remind the world how young you are at heart.  Try a razored layered look for a modern appeal.

Bang Bangs:  Straight bangs can be drab and schoolmarish.  But a wispy side bang is in-style and quite youthful.  Make sure your side sweep blends nicely into the rest of your hair where it meets your frame, and ensure the proper length to stay out of your eyes.

Embrace Your Curls:  Whether you have a slight wave or a head full of curls, nurture your natural body.  Curls add lots of volume but your stylist can tone it down by cutting layers around the face and thinning the ends.  Usually, thick curly hair works better in shoulder-length cuts or longer.

up doSofter Up-Dos:  A tight, sleek up-do can be very harsh on the face and emphasizes wrinkles and imperfections.  A softer, fuller up-do redirects the focus for a more holistic appearance.  Silky curls framing the face also lighten the load of this elegant style.

Deep Side Part:  No one likes a flat head.  Give yourself a boost by teasing up the under-hair on top of your head.  One of the easiest ways to do this is create a deep side part and tease beneath both sides.  This also allows one side to sweep over for a more interesting and dramatic look.

To Curl or Not to Curl:  Some women look more youthful with a soft curl at the tips.  Usually this works nicely for long hair, below the shoulders.  For shorter than shoulders, a straight look is more sleek and sophisticated.

Wash and Wear:  Youthful people have vibrant, fresh hair.  Over-styled, over-heated and over-treated hair begins to look damaged, which contributes to an older appearance.  To preserve a youthful look, select a hairstyle that is simple to maintain and won’t require too much styling or heated tools.  A wash-and-wear hairstyle also takes less time so you can focus on other things in your life that will keep you young.

Are You Unintentionally Slowing Your Metabolism?

Whether you exercise regularly and eat a perfectly balanced diet or not, everyone strives for an active metabolism.  The metabolism keeps the body energized and helps avoid excess fat storage.  Your resting metabolic rate is how quickly your metabolism works without having to do any physical activity.  Obviously, the higher the rate, the less you have to do to maintain a healthy weight.  Unfortunately, many dietary and lifestyle habits inhibit the metabolic process and could be unintentionally slowing your metabolism.

As women age, their metabolism slows, which on average leads to a yearly weight gain of around 1.5 pounds after age 40.  Luckily, you can curb some of the causes of unintentionally slowing your metabolism.  Keep these tips in mind to keep your metabolism working for you all day and night:

What to Eat

Enough Food:  The metabolism is like a fire, burning energy inside your body that requires fuel to keep going.  Without enough food, your metabolism will slow imagessignificantly.  Meals should be approximately 400 calories each, which is enough to keep the body evenly satiated for three to four hours.  Morning and afternoon snacks are important to keep the metabolism fueled as well.  And like your mother said, breakfast is essential.  Otherwise your body stores energy and slows down until it gets a new source of nutrients.

Complex Foods:  Nutrient-dense foods that also contain fiber take more effort for your body to break down and distribute throughout the body.  This extra work keeps your metabolism speedy and agile.  Fruits, vegetables and whole grains like whole wheat breads and pastas are particularly fibrous.  Sugars and simple carbs such as white bread and rice spike blood sugar and absorb quickly into the system, which is counterproductive for metabolic rate.

Lean Protein:  This is a crucial part of every meal and snack that can keep burning calories long after a meal is complete.  By adding grilled chicken to a salad, nuts to your oatmeal, or yogurt to your fruit, you can enjoy this fabulous benefit.  Avoid fatty meats and other high fat foods, such as fried foods, because they overwhelm the body.  The metabolism essentially rests when it receives too much fat while it waits for it to be stored.

Avoid Pesticides:  Toxins found in pesticides are proven to slow the metabolism and prohibit weight loss.  Buy organic fruits and veggies when possible, or peel them if organic is cost-prohibitive.

Iron:  Strong blood requires iron to improve circulation and deliver nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.  Muscles require oxygen to burn fat and speed the metabolism.  Women lose iron through menstruation so it’s important to consume plenty of iron in your diet with foods like spinach, cereals, beans and most plant-based superfoods.

Calcium:  The nutrients in your food only work for you if it is absorbed into the bloodstream.  Calcium is one of the best elements to increase absorption of a variety of nutrients, allowing them to benefit the body, including the metabolism.  So drink your milk and eat your yogurt and cheese, ladies.

What to Drink

Natural Caffeine:  Coffee and tea are bursting with antioxidants that stimulate the metabolism.  Depending on your favorite variety, they can increase the metabolism by 5 to 12%.

clean-drinking-waterCold Water:  Drinking cold water requires the body to work harder to digest. Water and other cold foods must be warmed to body temperature before it can be used.  This simple way to speed your metabolism could buy you 50 more calories a day.

Limited Alcohol:  Alcohol severely inhibits the metabolism and causes you to burn less fat because alcohol cannot fuel the metabolism at all.  One glass of wine or one cocktail is fine, but more than that can ruin the metabolic headway you’ve made throughout your day.

What to Do

Sleep More:  The more you sleep, the more energy you’ll have throughout the day.  This encourages and motivates lots of physical activity or just more energized intention to whatever your day brings.  Moreover, when you are sleep deprived, your body uses less energy when it actually gets to sleep, lowering that resting metabolic rate.

Move Around:  Sitting for just 20 minutes at a time can lower your metabolism.  If you have a sedentary job, try to get up periodically to stretch and walk around to keep blood flowing and the metabolism churning.

Keep a Schedule:  Upsetting your circadian rhythm from jet lag or all-nighters really disrupts your cellular function and metabolic rate.  Try to eat meals and sleep at around the same times daily for a more well-balanced system.

The Importance of Sleep

sleepSleep is one of the most basic human needs.  It’s unlikely you’ll forget to eat or wear clothes, but sleep is one of the most neglected areas of health.  Sleep is essential for many functions of the body, from supporting vital organs, to making you look and feel refreshed.  Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night for full body recuperation and to reap the maximum benefits of sleep.  Today we’re diving into the importance of sleep for four areas of your health and wellness:

Brain Power

Brains are somewhat like machines – they need to power off for awhile to re-charge.  The brain isn’t actually “off” during sleep, but it is resting in very important ways.  Your brain is making new connections and repairing itself from a hard day’s thinking.  By getting the recommended amount of sleep, your brain will be sharper and better able to handle daily demands.  Sleep improves concentration, mental clarity and focus that supports everything from greater cognition and problem-solving, to quicker response reactions when driving.  Sleep also reduces headaches because you are better able to deal with stress and anxiety.

Heart-to-Heart

Sleep is vital for heart health on several levels.  First, it supports every aspect related to the heart including stable blood pressure levels, lower bad HDL cholesterol levels, a steady heart beat and improved circulation, all of which lower risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and diabetes.  Sleep also prevents the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes the heart to work harder unnecessarily.  Moreover, a better night’s sleep gives your immune system a boost.  Immune defense is not only essential for staving off colds and infection, it also plays a major role in disease prevention, including heart disease.

Happy Go Lucky

You’ve probably noticed that sleep makes you happier and conversely, not sleeping makes you rather miserable.  Sleep is a natural mood elevator because the body has had a chance to rejuvenate itself.  Whether you realize it or not, daily stressors take a toll on your entire system and it needs time to rest and recoup.  Sleep allows you to better deal with life’s challenges and view the world optimistically without constantly breaking down over small issues.  Furthermore, sleep helps build and maintain better relationships.  When you are more pleasant to be around, you’re less likely to start arguments or project your crankiness on others.  Plus, you have more tolerance and compassion towards others, which they will surely notice.

Full Body Boost

One obvious benefit of sleep is that it gives the body more energy for daily activities.  That means you can attack your day with intention and purpose.  It also means you will have more energy for exercise and physical activity, whether you hit the gym, play tennis or are chasing your kids around the backyard.  Sleep improves many elements of exercise, including stamina, endurance, strength and your threshold for pain, as well as the time it takes for muscles to repair after workouts.  Beyond energy for exercise, if you’re trying to los weight or maintain your healthy weight, sleep keeps hormones in check to advance your goals.  When you don’t sleep your body produces more ghrelin, a hormone linked to hunger, and you make less leptin, the hormone that makes you feel satiated.  When ghrelin and leptin are off-balance, they can not only increase your desire to eat, but increase sugary snack cravings too.  Here’s another great full body benefit of sleep:  it piques your interest in sex!

Making sleep a priority is crucial for your health in a variety of ways.  Just like taking your vitamins and getting all your steps in each day, ensure sleep is part of your daily health routine.

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