Many people struggle with sleep problems, whether that means having difficulty falling asleep or waking up frequently throughout the night. A lot of people aren't sure why they have difficulty sleeping, but many know it's because of their eating habits, caffeine consumption or overwhelming levels of stress. However, It's very important that we get enough sleep each night and enter into REM and deep sleep cycles because this is the process our bodies use to restore themselves.
One good option is to try a supplement for a better night's sleep, such as Symbiotics® TryptoZen®, which uses milk peptide to help induce relaxation. Unlike similar products, Symbiotics TryptoZen has no known side effects. Naturade SlumberAid is another product that may be able to help you get better sleep each night. It is all natural and contains 5 milligrams of melatonin - a chemical that the body produces to begin the sleep cycle. SlumberAid also contains magnesium, B vitamins and calcium. The combination of these natural ingredients may induce longer sleep, help you fall asleep more quickly and let you feel more refreshed upon waking.
Here are some other things you can do to be proactive about getting better sleep:
- Avoid caffeine a full eight hours before bedtime.
- Exercise every day – just not less than a few hours before bedtime.
- Avoid screen time – including laptops, cell phones and the TV – at least an hour before bed. The blue light has been shown by research to slow the onset of the bodies sleep cycle.
- Use the bed for only sleeping and sex – don't eat, red or watch TV here, as your brain needs to associate the bed with sleep.
The good bacteria in our digestive tract – and there are billions of them – are important for digestion and immune health. Normally, our bodies can maintain the proper balance of good bacteria to combat the pathogenic kind. However, there are times when our immune systems are down due to infection, medication, disease, diet or environmental factors. In these instances, we are more susceptible to digestive issues and infection due to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria.
In these instances, it's a good idea to take a probiotic, which is filled with the healthy bacteria our gut needs. Naturade® Probiotics 30 B CFU™ can help restore intestinal flora and boost your body's defenses. It contains 30 billion good bacteria in each capsule to restore your body's balance and improve digestion. When the intestinal flora are out of balance, one can experience various digestive issues including constipation, gas and bloating. Naturade's probiotic is allergen and dairy free so those with sensitivities can still enjoy the benefits of a daily probiotic.
There are healthy foods, and then there are mega-super-fuelled foods, which are so good for your body in so many ways that you feel healthier as you eat them. Whether you're looking to maximize your calories or to find a way to make up for that donut you enjoyed earlier in the day, here is some information about the healthiest foods in each of the five food groups:
- Bulgar: It's made from pre-cooked wheat berries and is an awesome source of fiber and protein. Additionally, bulgar wheat keeps blood sugar levels stable.
- Oatmeal: Oats are heart healthy, chock-full of fiber and even have a good amount of protein.
- Eggs: They're packed with tons of nutrients and vitamins, many of which are difficult to get elsewhere. And don't just eat the whites – the yolks are where most of the nutrients are found, including choline – 25 percent of your daily dose – which can increase cell membrane functioning and reduce inflammation in the body. They also contain vitamins B6, B12, D and E, as well as iron, folate, zinc, phosphorus and riboflavin. While it's true that people with heart disease should limit their ingestion of egg yolks to twice per week, they're very healthy for everyone else to consume frequently.
- Beans: These perfect foods are packed with fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium and potassium. They've been shown to be very heart-healthy, and it's recommended that people eat at least 3 cups of beans per week.
- Salmon: It's packed with omega-3s, which have been shown to be good for heart health and brain function. One serving of salmon has nearly 50 percent of one's daily dose of niacin, which is good for memory. It's also a lean source of protein.
- Blueberries: These lovely little fruits are an amazing source of powerful antioxidants called proanthocyanidins, which can help protect the body and brain from environmental toxins. They also are a good source of vitamins C and E, niacin, folate and riboflavin.
- Kiwi: Kiwis combine a lot in a small package. They have nearly as much potassium as a banana and twice as much vitamin C as oranges, ounce for ounce.
- Figs: These perfect little California- and Mediterranean-growing fruits are good for cardiovascular health and have high levels of potassium and nearly as much calcium per serving as a half cup of milk.
- Broccoli: Along with other cruciferous veggies, like cabbage and cauliflower, broccoli has disease-fighting and heart-healthy benefits, vitamin C and the all-important sulforaphane.
- Avocados: They're filled with all kinds of healthy stuff, including mono-unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, folate and potassium. Also, they're downright tasty on a salad, sandwich or as guacamole.
- Spinach: The best part about this ultra-healthy veggie is that it can be added to nearly everything, from sandwiches to smoothies. It's an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important antioxidants for eye health, not to mention various vitamins and minerals our bodies need.
- Greek yogurt: It's the best, hands-down. Greek yogurt is packed with protein and calcium, and it tastes delicious even with very low levels of fat. The probiotics are good for digestion.
We give our bicycles a spring tune-up in preparation for summer, so why not give them an early fall tune-up as well? Even if you live in a place with harsh winters, there are still a few good months left to head out on a long ride on your two-wheeled transport. Below are some tips for a DIY tune-up as well as advice on when to fix and when to replace various components:
What you'll need
Here are the basic tools and materials you'll need for a tune-up:
- A few old towels or cleaning cloths
- A small fine brush or old toothbrush
- A bucket with warm water and dishwashing soap
- Extra-dry bike chain lube
- Bike pump with a pressure gauge
Even if you're not a complete cycling expert, there are some easy things that don't take much expertise – just a little elbow grease:
A thorough cleaning
One of the best things you can do to get your bike looking sparkly and new and, yes, even running better, is to clean it from wheel to wheel. So, grab your bucket of warm soapy water and get started. First, check the dirt around the chain and drivetrain – you don't even have to know what that is, but it's just the center of the bike down where the pedals and gears are located. Wipe it down with a wet towel. There are a lot of nooks and crevices in this area of the bike so if yours seems particularly dirty, you might want to use a small wire brush or old toothbrush to reach all the little complicated spots. Also, if your chain seems particularly rusty, spray on a bit of WD-40 and wipe the chain down. Let the chain dry completely and then use a strong magnet to attract metal filings that might have collected there.
It's important to check your bike chain once a month to make sure the bearings are well-oiled and not grind and rubbing on each other. Before applying the lube – which keeps everything running smoothly – make sure to let the chain dry completely. To apply the lube, put a few drops or spray it on the top and bottom of the chain and run the gears. Use a towel to wipe away extra product - if you use too much, it will attract dirt and grime. A good amount of lube is when you can't see it but there's a light oil residue when you touch it.
Many avid bikers keep a chain fix kit with them at all times. If your chain happens to break, then you'll have the right tools to fix it, which usually involves taking out the broken link plus an additional link and using the chain tools to reattach the ends. Luckily, a chain break isn't a very common occurrence, but if it happens, it can usually be easily fixed.
It's really important to have a pressure gauge with your tire pump, and you should probably check your tires at least once a week to save yourself from getting a flat. The pounds per square inch (psi) will be printed on the side of the tire so you know what level it should be at. Mountain bikes usually have 40 to 80 psi and road bikes can have up to 120 psi. Most bikers put 5 to 10 less psi in their front tires since we don't put too much weight on them.
If you have a flat tire from a puncture, you can likely fix it using a patch kit. But if it's a huge hole, you'll want to replace a road bike tire and use your best judgment for a mountain bike tire. Most people would rather not risk having a blowout and a major accident and will just choose to replace the tubing!
Brakes are also something you should check frequently, but here's what you need to do for a tune-up. Look at the brake pads – if you can see the wear lines or metal peeking through, they must be replaced. If your brakes are making a weird noise, you can sand the pads down to eliminate it. Check your brake cable next – if it has rust or loose strands, you should get it replaced.
Cellulite: It's a nine-letter word that's almost unspeakable to most women. While men can have cellulite too, their bodies typically have less fat, especially on the thigh and buttocks areas, so it affects women the most. Cellulite happens when the collagen fibers in the skin stretch, pull tight or break down and fat cells bulge out, creating the dimpled effect that many of us fear and loathe. But an important thing to know about cellulite is that it isn't related to how much you weigh - it's more closely related to genetics, diet, lifestyle and hormone changes. Here are some things you can do to possibly avoid cellulite:
- Stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle with you at all times, because dehydration is bad for the cells, skin and other parts of the body.
- Avoid smoking.
- Eat plenty of fiber, veggies and fruits, and stay away from yo-yo dieting.
- Exercise frequently, especially if you have a sedentary job.
Cellulite-free cardio workout
Today, many of our jobs involve sitting in an office chair for eight hours per day. This is not good for circulation and could contribute to the development of cellulite. Thus, exercise is very important. Here's a quick cellulite-busting cardio routine:
- Romanian dead lifts, 10 repetitions: Grab some weights and, standing with your feet hip-width apart and slightly bent knees, hold the weights with your palms facing your body and slowly bend forward. Push your glutes out behind you, then tighten them and stand.
- Squat press with twist, five sets, two times each: With your feet hip-width apart and your weight lifted up by your shoulders with palms facing forward, do a squat. When you rise up, stretch your arms straight up and twist your torso to the right. Then do a set to the left.
- Around-the-clock lunges, three sets of 15: These lunges will work your hamstrings, quads, thighs and glutes – all of the areas most prone to cellulite formation. Put your hands on your hips and lunge forward – the 12 o'clock position. Then return to your standing position, before lunging to the right for 3 o'clock. Continue by lunging back to the 6 o'clock position and then to the side for 9 o'clock. Then switch to the left leg.
- Standing calf raises, 10 repetitions: Stand on a step with your heels hanging over the edge. Lift up onto the balls of your feet and hold the position for two counts before lowering your feet until your heels are just below the step. For an extra challenge, stand on one leg at time.
With the change in seasons from sticky summer humidity to fresh fall air comes the arrival of autumn sports to watch and play. Now's the time to cook up some wings, grab a few beers and settle into the comfy couch to cheer on your favorite professional and college football teams. But make sure to get out there and enjoy the breezy fall weather before it turns cold by organizing a few pick up games of your own or even joining a local league. Here are our fall sport ideas:
- Sure, you're no Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson, but we're sure you've got some sweet moves of your own. Before the big game, organize a pick up football game of your own with the friends you typically watch with. You'll get pumped up, feel inspired and probably feel less guilty about indulging in your favorite greasy game foods. Make it fun by turning it into a weekly thing, with jerseys and a funny team name.
- If you're a Ronaldinho, Ronaldo or Pelé fan, get your kicks by organizing a fall soccer tournament or joining a local league. Soccer is an awesome fall sport because it's so fast-paced and requires consistent running, that the cool air of fall is a nice break from the stifling heat of summer that makes this kind of activity more strenuous. Unless you're the goalie, soccer is an amazing cardio workout because it requires 90 minutes of stopping, starting, jumping, sliding and direction changing while keeping possession of a ball – it's hard work.
- For a more laid-back fall sport, consider playing bocce ball. Though it's not a workout per say, you're at least on your feet the entire time. Bocce is an exercise in precision and strategy, and we think it's quite underrated.
For a lot of people, our motivation wanes as the cold weather creeps in – exercising outdoors is particularly challenging, and trudging to the gym seems like a chore. But winter doesn't mean the end of working out! In fact, it's still important to catch some rays when you can to get your vitamin D and stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Here are some great calorie-busting, muscle-building, fun outdoor winter activities to get a workout and some fresh air and sun:
- If you have kids and live in an area where it snows, sledding is the perfect exercise! Not only is it incredibly exhilarating to race down a hill at wild speeds, but it's also an excellent workout – once you get to the bottom, you have to hike up to the top to catch your thrills again.
- Even residents of Los Angeles and other warm places can enjoy ice skating at an artificial rink. Ice skating is the quintessential winter activity no matter where you live, and since it's an aerobic exercise, it's also a fabulous workout. Depending on how much you weigh, just one hour of recreational ice skating can burn between 250 and 810 calories. It's a great activity to tone your quadriceps and hamstrings, and ice skating requires the use of your abdominal and lower back muscles to keep your balance – strengthening these muscles will help you in other activities like yoga.
- Go snow boarding. Snow boarding requires supreme balance and core strength to not only stay upright on the board but successfully navigate down a hill. Plus, you're burning up to 500 calories per hour! Even taking beginners' lessons can be a great workout.
- If you live in a flatter area, try cross-country skiing. It's a total body workout – it strengthens the core and tones the arms. You can burn around 570 calories per hour cross-country skiing.
- Of all winter sports, snowshoeing has one of the biggest payoffs! You can burn up to 700 calories per hour during your snowy trek.
- Simply taking a brisk walk in the snow is also a great idea. You'll have to move quickly to keep your body warm, and keeping your balance on the ice and snow is more of a workout than taking a walk in better weather.
If you're training for a fall 5k or half marathon, you're easing back into running after a summer hiatus or you're hitting the gym to lift, now's the time to start building your fabulous fall playlist. Here are some of our best songs and why we think they are perfect for autumn:
Warm up/Cool down
- "Sunday Morning" by Maroon 5 (88 bpm) – This song is so cozy that it wraps you in an embrace reminiscent of chunky sweaters, warm apple pies and hot cocoa.
- "Brave" by Sarah Bareilles or "Roar" by Katy Perry (both 92 bpm) – Both songs are about standing up and making a change – fall is a change of seasons, so we think that works out pretty well.
- "Enchanted" by Taylor Swift (82 bpm) – "Enchanted" is for when you're seriously taking it slow, but that's OK! It's the perfect jam for a warm up or cool down jog as you pass by the enchanting fall foliage.
- "Don't Wake Me Up" by Chris Brown (128 bpm) – It's the tune you'll be singing when your covers are warm and outside the safe confines of your bed the air is chill.
- "Wake Me Up" by Avicii (124 bpm) – It's the opposite of the above song, but this end-of-summer hit is really catchy and a great fall tune as well.
- "What Doesn't Kill You" by Kelly Clarkson (116 bpm) – Though fall weather is lovely, this song will prepare you for the cooler wintry days to come, which could be downright brutal if you're exercising outside!
- "Cinema" by Benny Benassi – the Skirllex remix (144 bpm) – This song is just pure fun with an upbeat vibe. It's perfect to keep you motivated at the peak of your workout in the fall.
Fall is a great time to get out and have some family fun in the crisp air. Also, it's a time to look forward to some of the year's best holidays. Here are some great ideas for fall activities that both parents and kids will enjoy:
- Run a 5k that also has a children's fun run. It's a great way to bond, get some exercise and practice sportsmanship. Plus, autumn weather is a runner's dream!
- Go to a local farm for warm apple cider, pumpkin picking and a jaunt through the corn maze.
- Take the kids apple-picking and then bake a pie or crisp together using the fruits you've picked.
- Have the kids help rake the leaves – great exercise – and then make big piles that they can jump and play in. Don't forget to take pictures!
- Organize a neighborhood game of soccer, kickball or flag football with other families. It can even be a kids versus adults game.
- Bike to a local park for a family game of Frisbee, tag or catch.
- If Halloween is a big deal at your house, make it a spooky wonderland in preparation for the trick-or-treaters with spider webs, tombstones and other frightening decor.
- Organize a Halloween parade for all of the neighborhood families.
- Take a bike ride or walk through a local forest preserve and have a scavenger hunt, which you can organize ahead of time. Have the kids look for certain leaves and little critters.
- Head to a fall farmers market and have the kids help pick out ingredients for that night's dinner. You can cook together later, and turn up some music to make it less of a chore and more of a dance party.
- Be brave and check out a haunted house together!
Autumn brings beautiful foliage, pumpkin-flavored treats and Halloween shenanigans. But with the crisp leaves and tasty snacks also comes the first hints of cold weather. If you're an avid runner, hiker or otherwise outdoor exerciser, you'll have to switch out the spandex shorts and cute tanks for cold weather gear. If you're a long-distance runner, you probably delight in hopping off the treadmill you retreated to during the blazing summer and returning to the cooler temps, which typically allow you to breathe better. So if you're excited to get out, make sure to be prepared with these fall and winter gear essentials:
- A lightweight wind jacket is perfect for days where you want a little protection from the wind, but when it's too warm to have anything but minimal lining. Double up by purchasing a waterproof jacket that can keep you dry in the rain. These jackets are great because they're breathable.
- Since it stays darker longer in the fall months, if you run outside early in the morning or right after work it's likely that it will be dark during some point of your run. Keep yourself safe from cars and bikes by wearing reflective arm bands – they're less dorky than a head lamp (and potentially less blinding for others on the road) but still alert others to your presence in the dark.
- It's a great idea to purchase a fleece-lined compression long-sleeved top and leggings, which shouldn't be skin tight but should fit fairly close to your body. Compression gear absorbs moisture from the skin, which is very important to keep you warm in a cold environment.
- On days where you need a little more than a base layer but you want to breathe a bit, you can wear a thermal vest. For a bonus, purchase a soft shell jacket with a zip-out vest so you can have layering options.
- Warm socks are a must because if you're feet aren't warm, it can be pretty painful and distracting and lead to an unproductive workout. Purchase 100 percent cotton socks to stay warm in winter, or even wool.
- Buy gloves or mittens formulated specifically for running.
- Don't forget a warm, close-fitting hat, preferably fleece-lined! Our heads loose body faster than any other part of the body, so it's important to keep them covered. If it's not quite that cold, try a soft, lightweight headband to protect your ears from the wind.