Monthly Archives: April 2016

How to Fall Asleep in Under a Minute

It was the week before my best friend’s wedding, and my anxiety (nerves, plus excitement) had reached epic levels. I wasn’t sleeping, to say the least. Part of that had to do with the maid-of-honor speech I would be giving. I was terrified and could not shut my brain off to fall asleep at night.

After day three of lying awake until the wee hours of the night, I sheepishly admitted to her that I was too nervous to fall asleep, and she—the bride, who was sleeping like a baby the week before her own wedding—told me I needed to try the “4-7-8” breathing trick.

She happens to be a licensed wellness practitioner who studies meditation, stress, and breathing techniques, and she told me it would change my life. You simply breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. She explained that the studied combination of numbers has a chemical-like effect on our brains and would slow my heart rate and soothe me right to sleep that night. “It works,” she told me. “It’s crazy.”

I couldn’t wait to put the trick to the test, and to my complete disbelief, I woke up the next morning unable to even remember getting to the eighth second of the exhale because it knocked me out that fast. For the next four nights leading up to the big day, even as my stress increased, I was able to fall asleep the minute I tried the 4-7-8 trick. I also used it to relax in the moments leading up to the speech.

When you feel stressed or anxious, adrenaline courses through your veins, your heart beats at a rapid rate, and your breathing becomes quick and shallow. So before I get into the specifics behind how the 4-7-8 breathing trick works, I wanted to explain in my own words what it feels like when you try it. To me, the effect of the breathing technique feels almost like a sedative drug, because in order to hold your breath for seven seconds and then to exhale for eight—when your breath is so shallow and short—your body is forced to slow your heart rate. It has no choice. Holding your breath, and then slowly, deliberately exhaling for eight seconds, causes a chain reaction. It feels like going from a mad-dash sprint to a finish line to a slow, leisurely, calming stroll through the park.

When you first start, you’ll be desperate to just take in another breath, or you’ll want to speed up your counting, but if you stick to the numbers (or at least try to), and don’t take any breaks (in other words, consecutively repeat the 4-7-8 without resuming regular breathing), you can literally feel your heart rate slow down, your mind get quieter, and your whole body physically relax. It washes over you like a calming, relaxing drug. I can never remember getting past the first set of 4-7-8.

Do you know the feeling of being put under by anesthesia, where you are conscious, and the next thing you remember is waking up? That’s what this is like for me: As soon as I start the practice, the next thing I remember, I’m waking up in the morning and can’t even remember beginning the 4-7-8 count the night before. Crazy.

Now to the more technical details: People who are stressed or anxious are actually chronically under-breathing, because stressed people breathe shortly and shallowly, and often even unconsciously hold their breath. By extending your inhale to a count of four, you are forcing yourself to take in more oxygen, allowing the oxygen to affect your bloodstream by holding your breath for seven seconds, and then emitting carbon dioxide from your lungs by exhaling steadily for eight seconds. The technique will effectively slow your heart rate and increase oxygen in your bloodstream, and may even make you feel slightly lightheaded which contributes to the mild sedative-like effect. It will instantly relax your heart, mind, and overall central nervous system because you are controlling the breath versus continuing to breathe short, shallow gasps of air.

Mindful breathing practices have been a part of yoga and Eastern wellness modalities for centuries but aren’t as popular in Western culture. The most well-known champion of the 4-7-8 breathing technique in the U.S., who is somewhat responsible for the prevalence that the technique does have amongst integrative medicine practitioners, yogis, and those in search of stress reduction and overall relaxation, is Harvard-educated Dr. Andrew Weil.

Though I’m not promising or claiming (nor does Dr. Weil) that practicing this breathing technique can fight disease or provide clinical benefits, I can tell you one thing: If it affects you like it did me, it will help you fall asleep way faster. Not only is it free, it also works for a number of different instances. In addition to using it to fall asleep in a pinch, you can practice it if you wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself thinking about something you have to do the next day, in order to fall back asleep; if you are nervous before an event (like a wedding, or giving a speech); if you are angry about something and want to calm down. My friend (the bride-to-be who slept like a baby the week before her wedding), who gets nervous to fly, uses it before flights and during if the plane encounters turbulence.

It is now what I use to fall asleep every single night, and each morning, I’m amazed at how well it worked.

Food that elimate your love handles

unduhan-25Love handles. They plague men just as much as women (whether or not you care to call them that or prefer “spare tire”). Regardless, if you do in fact have the extra poundage hanging around your midsection, take a look at these fat-eliminating foods selected by Yuri Elkaim, holistic nutritionist and author of the All Day Fat-Burning Diet, and Jessica Cording, R.D. a clinical nutritionist at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

The Get Lean for Life Diet

While these foods won’t literally incinerate the fat from your abdominal, they will promote weight loss, and aid in your long-term goals without making you feel deprived. “So many diets are bereft of proper protein,” Elkaim says. Instead, many guys count calories and eat tiny portions of high-sugar foods or juices that actually create a starving sensation, he adds. The principle behind the selection of these foods is simple: You’ll eat real food (Read: not a bunch of bars or shakes) that come from every major food group. “You want 80 percent of what you eat to be raw, whole, plant-deprived foods to support your system and create an optimized environment for health and wellness,” Elkaim says. We picked foods packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you energized to power through every day and any workout.

10 Reasons You Can’t Keep The Weight Off 

Leafy greens will provide vital nutrients, cleanse your body, and fill your stomach with healthy fiber and a surprisingly high (pound-for-pound) amount of protein. Seeds and legumes will provide additional satiating plant-based protein to make sure you never have that starving sensation, which causes even valiant men to binge on Twinkies. Healthy fats from nuts and oils will help you drop the pounds (fat doesn’t make you fat), and keep your hunger at bay from meal to meal. Adding some lean meat into the mix will help build muscle. You want organic, grass-fed meat, and sustainably wild-caught fish. Low-glycemic fruit will cater to your carb and sweets needs, though the craving will diminish drastically after about three days. You should eat meals every four to six hours and snack very minimally. Snacking, and eating in general, raises insulin levels, which is responsible for storing excess carbs and sugars as fat. Even with the best intentions, you’ll never lose weight if you slack when it comes to snack time. Add these eating principles and food guidelines to your daily diet, and watch that extra weight slip right off your midsection.

Muscle and Joint Pain

Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause a variety of muscle or joint-related symptoms. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are known to cause what are called myopathies—the medical term for diseases that affect skeletal muscle.

Skeletal muscles are the muscles connected to your bones. An example of skeletal muscles are your biceps in the upper arm, or the quadriceps in the thigh.

Myopathies most often are seen in what are known as the proximal muscles.

These are the muscles that are closest to the center of the body, such as the thigh or shoulder.

In myopathies caused by inflammation or metabolic conditions, such as autoimmune thyroid disease, white blood cells may attack parts of the muscle and the surrounding blood vessels, or abnormal levels of certain biochemical substances end up accumulating in your muscles, leading to weakness or pain.

Different thyroid conditions can also be associated with particular types of muscle and joint problems.

Muscle and Joint Pain With Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can create a variety of muscle and joint-related symptoms. Most commonly, these symptoms are due to swelling of muscles, or swelling muscles that are pressing on nerves. Some of the problems seen include:

general muscular weakness and pain, including cramps, and stiffness
general joint pain, achiness, stiffness, known as “arthropathy”
tendonitis in the arms and legs
carpal tunnel syndrome, which involves pain, tingling, weakness, achiness, or numbness in the wrist, fingers, or forearm. It is due to swelling of membranes that compress a nerve in the forearm.
tarsal tunnel syndrome—similar to carpal tunnel, with pain, tingling, burning, and other discomfort in the arch of your foot, the bottom of the foot, possibly extending into the toes.

Stop Doing If You’re Stress

Many of the stressors we face in life are not under our control. However, our responses to these things can have a heavy impact on our stress levels. What’s more, many of the thoughts we have and actions we take when stressed can contribute to our problems by intensifying the already-negative feelings we may have. Therefore, it’s wise to look at what we can control, stop doing things that perpetuate and exacerbate our stress levels and focus on what we can do to help ourselves feel more relaxed. The following are 10 bad habits that are commonly done by people under stress that make things worse:

1 Stop Ruminating

We all face things that cause us stress. It’s natural to think about these stressors to see what we can do to better understand the situation so we can change it. But sometimes we can slip into a type of thinking that is unproductive, overly negative, and borders on obsessive. This type of thinking is known as “rumination.” When we fall prey to rumination, we intensify the stress we are already feeling by focusing on the negative and continually reliving it. When we’re in this pattern of thinking, our focus is more on what went wrong than on what we can do to fix things.

Rumination is more common than you may think. According to a poll on this site, for example, roughly 70 percent of readers find themselves ruminating quite often, and only around 5 percent find that they are able to let things go almost immediately.

Rumination can become a habit. The good news is that habits can be broken, even habits of thought. Learn more about rumination and its role in your life, and see what you can do to stop ruminating.

2 Stop Losing Sleep

Many things contribute to our stress levels, but sleep deprivation is one factor that makes a bigger impact than we may realize. When we don’t get enough sleep, not only are we more reactive to stress, but our cognitive functioning isn’t as sharp, which can contribute to mistakes made, causing a cycle of anxiety.

Stress can also impact our ability to get quality sleep. But by practicing good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding using televisions or computers before bed, going to bed the same time every night, and darkening the room, you can get better sleep.

3 Stop Eating Junk

What you eat can impact how you feel. Just as lost sleep can impact your reactivity, so can the wrong diet. If you have ever crashed from a caffeine high or a sugar rush, you already instinctively know this.

Stress can also impact what you crave and lead to emotional eating. This can present an even greater challenge for those who are stressed and trying to eat better, but it can (and should) be done! Learn more about the relationship between: stress and your eating patterns and how to change your habits, if necessary.

4 Stop Leaning on Frenemies

Relationships can be fantastic sources of stress relief. When we experience times of stress, the emotional support, the helpful resources, and the stability that friends bring us can be quite a buffer against the challenges we face.

Additionally, many people find themselves looking to relationships the most when under stress. This response, like the more commonly discussed fight-or-flight response, can help us to get our needs met when we are experiencing stress. This response drives us to connect with others and share support.

That said, the stress of a conflicted relationship can take a heavy toll on your health and well-being. Relationships that are sometimes supportive and sometimes unpredictably conflict-riddled can be particularly difficult because there’s an underlying sense of uncertainty and tension.

Because of this, it is very important not only to know when to let go of a toxic relationship, but to know how to keep all the relationships in your life as healthy as possible.

Find the good excercise to make more healthy

A few years ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a lengthy report recommending that, as part of a routine regimen to maintain our cardiovascular health, ideal body weight, and ideal body composition, we all (that is, each and every one of us) need to engage in 60 minutes of daily moderate physical activity.

Furthermore, the experts over at the IOM made it crystal clear that they are not talking about merely accumulating the equivalent of an hour of exercise during one’s routine daily activities (such as climbing stairs or doing the laundry).

What they’re talking about is adding 60 minutes of honest-to-goodness sustained moderate intensity exercise (specifically, the equivalent of walking or jogging at least at a 4 to 5 miles per hour pace) to whatever other activities we might perform during the course of a normal day.

There is no doubt that exercise is very good for cardiovascular health. But an hour a day?

Read all about the cardiac benefits of exercise.
How Did They Come Up With an Hour A Day?
The experts who wrote this report for the IOM are scientists. Every word in this report is backed up by references from scientific studies, carefully interpreted in light of the whole body of evidence accumulated by medical science. This report is a comprehensive synthesis of what is known (and not known) today about optimizing our caloric intake (carbohydrates, fat, protein, etc.) and our output (physical activity) in order to maintain an advisable weight, a favorable body composition (i.e., proportion of muscle to fat), and cardiovascular health.

And based on their synthesis of all this data, the authors’ conclusions regarding exercise follow as naturally as the night follows the day. These scientists are immersed in grim scientific objectivity, and like good scientists are merely letting the chips fall where they may. To maintain optimal cardiovascular health, a good body weight, and a favorable body composition, they have no choice but to conclude that all of us adults need to engage in at least one hour of moderately intensive exercise (or at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise) each day.

A Whole Hour? Really?
While an hour a day of exercise may indeed be just the thing for us, the IOM recommendations are (I humbly submit) emblematic of a fundamental flaw with much modern progressive thinking. To wit: it is entirely ridiculous to expect us folks to change our fundamental human natures just because a top expert panel, following the latest high-quality investigational methodologies, has determined that we should.

To actually be useful, any expert recommendations on a healthy lifestyle must remain within the bounds of the possible. And telling us that it’s an absolute that we must exercise for at least an hour a day is more than just out of bounds – it is too outlandish for words.

Indeed, this new recommendation is so outlandish that it threatens to completely undermine whatever good might have come so far from more reasonable recommendations that others have made regarding exercise.

My fear is that typical, ordinary Americans, upon learning that all their efforts to fit at least some exercise into their busy schedules are, after all, laughably inadequate, are going to throw up their hands in sheer frustration and disgust and say, “Screw it.

Pass the remote and open a bag of Cheetos.” I suspect this is true because that was very nearly my reaction to this report.

How Much Exercise Is Actually Necessary?
Here’s a fact: the available data strongly suggests that the more exercise you do, the more you are reducing your cardiovascular risk (and the more calories you burn off). While the IOM is now on record as saying we “need” to do an hour a day of exercise, the fact is that if we did two hours a day we’d be even better off. (To this extent, at least, the IOM experts who wrote this report in fact did maintain some minimal semblance of practicality.)

Those of you who can fit in an hour or two of exercise a day need read no further. But for the rest of us, the real question is: How much exercise do we really need in order to see at least some substantial cardiovascular benefit?

The answer is: More than 40 studies in scientific literature document that cardiac risk can be reduced by 30 – 50% by regular, moderate exercise – exercise averaging far less than one hour per day. If you can exercise at a moderate pace for 20 – 30 minutes at least five days a week, you may not shed a lot of pounds or reach your ideal body composition, and you may not achieve the optimal cardiac benefits which the IOM mandates for us, but you will be doing your heart and your cardiovascular system a lot of good.

Read all about exercise and the heart
The bottom line: if you can engage in vigorous exercise for an hour a day without making yourself crazy, disabling yourself with orthopedic issues, losing your job, or instigating a divorce, then by all means do so. But if you are a mere mortal, then at least try to go for a walk every day. Twenty minutes of moderate daily activity won’t make the pounds melt off or give you the same body composition as the Williams sisters, but it can make a real impact on your cardiovascular health.

If the authors of the IOM report had allowed as much, the frustration levels they created among those of us trying to lead healthy, but non-obsessive, lifestyles might be a little bit lower.

Read about reducing your cardiac risk
Sources:

Panel on Macronutrients, Panel on the Definition of Dietary Fiber, Subcommittee on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients, Subcommittee on Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Dietary Reference Intakes For Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Institute of Medicine; The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2005.