Tuesday, August 23, 2011

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Exhausted. Drained. Worn out??

Dr. Oz’s 7-Day Energy Surge

Exhausted. Drained. Worn out. More than two-thirds of American woman are using words like these to describe their current energy level. Most turn to caffeine and sugar to cope with daily fatigue, a strategy that may provide a short-term boost, but no long-term benefits. It’s time to get the facts and become strategic about increasing your energy level with Dr. Oz’s 7 Day Energy Surge.

Exhaustion is not simply lack of sleep; it’s related to stress, dehydration, nutrition and lifestyle. Conquering your exhaustion can feel insurmountable, but what if it could be as simple as listening to music, having more sex, or changing the way you breathe? Dr. Oz and Jim Karas, energy expert and author of The 7 Day Energy Surge, have created a 4-step plan containing small changes that add up to big increases in your energy.

Step 1: The Morning Makeover

First, assess your alarm clock. What time is it set for? A time that allows you to repeatedly hit the snooze button? Or do you only allow yourself time to grab a quick shower before rushing out the door and hitting the drive-through? It’s time to reset your alarm. Give yourself 10 minutes to lie in bed before getting up. During that time, perform a breathing exercise called “breathing into blackness.” Place the palms of your hands over your eyes, and with your index, middle and ring fingers, massage the top of your forehead. Inhale 6 counts through your nose and exhale 6 counts through your mouth. Breathing into blackness provides the body with increased oxygen and 10 full minutes of internal meditation.
Then, throw open your curtains and turn on all your lights. This enhances circadian rhythms and tells your body that night, the natural time for sleep, is over.

Finally, eat a power breakfast full of protein and fiber that won’t spike blood sugar levels and will keep you satiated. Click here for a muesli recipe packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants and omega-3s.

Step 2: The Vital Vitamin Cocktail

To feel more energized, you need to fuel your body properly. Magnesium and tyrosine are 2 supplements that specifically target the chemical processes responsible for increased levels of energy. Magnesium activates enzymes that contribute to energy production and helps regulate the levels of important nutrients like calcium, copper, zinc, potassium and vitamin D. While you can get magnesium from foods like whole grains, nuts and leafy green vegetables, most Americans need a supplement to reach the recommended daily value: 400 mg magnesium with 600 mg calcium.

Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid and a building block for the mood-enhancing neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. Chronic stress can deplete your level of tyrosine and contribute to feelings of exhaustion. Tyrosine supplements should be taken in 500 mg doses 3 times a day, at least 30 minutes before meals.

For a super boost, open a 500 mg tyrosine capsule, place the powder under your tongue and let it dissolve. It has a chalk-like consistency that may be hard to swallow, so take water as needed.

Step 3: Pick Up a New Mid-Afternoon Pick-Me-Up

Ditch the soda, candy and energy drinks. Instead, opt for a shot of the phenomenal super food: wheatgrass. It’s full of antioxidants, stimulates metabolism and alkalinizes the body. Get a shot at your local health food store or juice bar for a few dollars or, if that’s not an option, purchase wheatgrass in supplement form or powder.

If you must have coffee, try a combination consisting of half coffee/half low-fat milk. It contains caffeine like a normal cup of coffee and the protein in milk helps keep blood sugar levels stable.

Step 4: Set the Stage for Sleep

Perhaps you’ve already done the basics: removed the TV from your bedroom, set a regular bedtime, and banned cell phones and other electronics from your nightstand. But here are some additional steps to help your body wind down, fall asleep and stay asleep.

Listen to soothing music for 45 minutes before going to bed. Research indicates this helps you fall asleep faster and recall more vivid dreams, an indication of deep, restful sleep.
Turn your alarm clock away from you. Watching the clock keeps the brain stimulated, making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Use a night light in the bathroom. This prohibits turning lights on during the night which in turn activates the brain, telling it to wake up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sweet tooth raging out of control? Learn to Stop the Cravings!

Does that morning Danish leave you craving another treat two hours later? Do you grab a candy bar to cope with your afternoon slump -- and then reach for a cola to get out of your post-slump slump?

If you’ve found that munching sugary snacks just makes you crave more sugary snacks, you’re not alone. Eating lots of simple carbohydrates -- without the backup of proteins or fats -- can quickly satisfy hunger and give your body a short-term energy boost, but they almost as quickly leave you famished again and craving more.

How can you stop sugar cravings once and for all? Why Do We Crave Sugar?

There are many reasons why we go for sweet things.That appetite may be hardwired. Sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth. Carbohydrates stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Sugar is a carbohydrate, but carbohydrates come in other forms, too, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.The taste of sugar also releases endorphins that calm and relax us, and offer a natural "high".

Sweets just taste good, too. And that preference gets reinforced by rewarding ourselves with sweet treats, which can make you crave it even more. With all that going for it, why wouldn’t we crave sugar?

The problem comes not when we indulge in a sweet treat now and then, but when we over-consume, something that’s easy to do when sugar is added to many processed foods, including breads, yogurt, juices, and sauces. And Americans do over consume, averaging about 22 teaspoons of added sugars per day, according to the American Heart Association, which recommends limiting added sugars to about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men.

How to Stop Sugar Cravings: 8 Tips to Use Right Now

1. Give in a little. Eat a bit of what you’re craving, maybe a small cookie or a fun-size candy bar. Enjoying a little of what you love can help you steer clear of feeling denied. Try to stick to a 150-calorie threshold.

2. Combine foods. If the idea of stopping at a cookie or a baby candy bar seems impossible, you can still fill yourself up and satisfy a sugar craving, too. Like combining the craving food with a healthful one. I love chocolate, for example, so sometimes I’ll dip a banana in chocolate sauce and that gives me what I’m craving, or I mix some almonds with chocolate chips. As a beneficial bonus, you'll satisfy a craving and get healthy nutrients from those good-for-you foods.

3. Go cold turkey. Cutting out all simple sugars works for some people, although the initial 48 to 72 hours are tough. Some people find that going cold turkey helps their cravings diminish after a few days; others find they may still crave sugar but over time are able to train their taste buds to be satisfied with less.

4. Grab some gum. If you want to avoid giving in to a sugar craving completely, try chewing a stick of gum. Research has shown that chewing gum can reduce food cravings.

5. Reach for fruit. Keep fruit handy for when sugar cravings hit. You'll get fiber and nutrients along with some sweetness. And stock up on foods like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Have them handy so you reach for them instead of reaching for the old [sugary] something.

6. Get up and go. When a sugar craving hits, walk away. Take a walk around the block or do something to change the scenery,to take your mind off the food you’re craving.

7. Choose quality over quantity. If you need a sugar splurge, pick a wonderful, decadent sugary food. But keep it small. For example, choose a perfect dark chocolate truffle instead of a king-sized candy bar, then savor every bite -- slowly. Don’t swear off favorites -you’ll only come back for greater portions. Learn to incorporate small amounts in the diet but concentrate on filling your stomach with less sugary and healthier options.

8. Eat regularly. Waiting too long between meals may set you up to choose sugary, fatty foods that cut your hunger.
Instead, eating every three to five hours can help keep blood sugar stable and help you avoid irrational eating behavior. Your best bets? Choose protein, fiber-rich foods like whole grains and produce.

But won't eating more often mean overeating? Not if you break up your meals. For instance, have part of your breakfast -- a slice of toast with peanut butter, perhaps save some yogurt for a mid-morning snack. Break up lunch the same way to help avoid a mid-afternoon slump.

One of the best ways to manage sugar cravings is to stop them before they start. To help you do that:

1. Skip artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners may sound like a great idea, but they don’t lessen cravings for sugar and haven’t demonstrated a positive effect on our obesity epidemic.

2. Reward yourself for successfully managing sugar cravings. Your reward could be large or small. Remember why you’re working on it and then reward yourself for each successful step.

3. Slow down. For one week, focus on your sugar cravings and think about what you’re eating. Diet mayhem often results from lack of planning. So slow down, plan, and eat what you intend to eat, instead of eating when you’re desperate.

4. Get support. Many people turn to sweet foods when they're stressed, depressed, or angry. But food doesn't solve emotional issues. Consider whether emotions are involved in your sugar cravings and whether you need help to find other solutions to those emotional problems.

5.Mix it up. You may need more than one strategy to thwart sugar cravings. One week you may find success with one tactic, and another week calls for an alternative approach. What’s important is to have a bag of tricks to try. To tame sugar cravings, you really need to figure out what works for you.

Lastly, go easy on yourself. It may take time to get a handle on your sugar cravings.