Health & Fitness
Why You Can’t Touch Your Toes (and how you can!)
05Feb 2017
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Stand with your feet together, and slowly bend forward to touch your toes.

Can you reach them?

If not, it means your hamstrings and/or lower back are too tight.

The good news is… a little bit of conscious stretching goes a LONG way.

Stretching is an essential component of both exercise and health, as it helps to maintain flexibility and range of motion in your joints. When your muscles are more flexible, the body can perform activities and exercise with the correct form and alignment; therefore, stretching also helps to improve posture.

If you set the intention and practice for just a few minutes each day, you’ll be touching the floor in no time.

Here’s how…

In a perfect forward fold, your upper body should bend toward your legs like you’re closing a flip phone (remember those?). Both the upper and lower body remains straight, and the hinge comes directly from your hips.

There are several muscles involved, and knowing which ones need to be working can be the key to achieving a liberating and beautiful forward fold.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the process:

Step 1

Activate (flex) your abdomen. This creates reciprocal inhibition of the lower back muscles, signaling them to relax.

Step 2

Activate the quadriceps (the front thigh muscle) to straighten (but not hyperextend) your knees. This creates reciprocal inhibition of the hamstrings (anagonist to the quads), signaling them to relax deeper into the stretch. With your front body flexing, your back body can release deeper into the stretch.

Step 3

Tilt the pelvis forward by contracting the hip flexors (including the psoas, pectineus, and anterior adductor muscles). Keeping the back and neck straight and the spine long, hinge forward ONLY from the hips (not the ribs) until you can no longer maintain a straight back. If you allow your back to arch, you have lost connection to the key muscle groups, and are no longer actively stretching where it counts. This will prevent you from deepening the stretch and ultimately touching the floor.

Step 4

Keep your back straight and your spine long, lifting your tailbone up toward the sky. Even if you only lower a few degrees from your standing position, honor your body. Only with proper form can you achieve depth Once you reach your maximum forward fold with a perfectly straight back, place your hands wherever you can comfortably reach — on your thighs, shins or ankles — and draw your shoulders away from your ears.

Step 5

BREATHE – smoothly, deeply and consciously, sending energy to all the areas that are working. With each inhale, imagine your spine lengthening and straightening even more, and with each exhale see if you can deepen the hinge of your hips to bring yourself lower toward the ground. (Breath is the KEY to deepening any stretch. When consciously utilized, it creates space from the inside out, expanding and deepening the internal body to further release the muscles.)

If you do these five steps once in the morning and once at night everyday, for five minutes each, you WILL see noticeable results in just one week.

That’s the beauty of stretching… it’s highly rewarding.

In just ten minutes a day you can dramatically increase your flexibility, and connect more deeply with your body.

We’d say that’s a win-win for everyone. :)

More…

The Healing Power of Juicing
18Sep 2016
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Article written by Lifebook Member and Health & Fitness expert, Joe Mercola

Do you want more energy? Maybe drop a couple of sizes?  Do you want to improve your health? Look years younger? Give your immune system a boost? If so, then it’s time to consider juicing.

I have previously written an extensive guide to juicing but Cherie Calbom, the original Juice Lady, released the third edition of her best-selling book The Juice Lady’s Guide To Juicing for Health: Unleashing the Healing Power of Whole Fruits and Vegetables in October 2008.

Why should you juice?

You might think that you can get the same benefits by eating your veggies whole, why go through the trouble of juicing them?

More…

AJ’s One Month Lifebook Progress (Before/After)
02Aug 2016
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Written by Lifebook Member, AJ M.

I wanted to share my 30-day Lifebook fitness progress with you all.

I’m a private person and I usually don’t post my own before and afters but I wanted to show the power of Lifebook.  

I took the before pic shortly after finishing Lifebook and I the took the after pic today. Less than a month between pics. 
I followed my own transformation program to the T and never cheated on my plan.
Even though fitness is my strong point, I’ve never made such progress in 1 month!
I’m getting closer to the health goal that I have in my life vision and I feel amazing!
Can’t wait to see what the next month brings. :)
AJ_30_Day_Before_After

Here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned during this transformation…

1. It all starts with the mind.

For the past year, I’ve been keeping a consistent 20 minutes of “ME time” everyday.

Also, every morning I note five things I’m grateful for.

Just in doing these two daily habits, I noticed that my stress levels are lowered and because of that, I have not been emotional eating.

Emotional eating is what led me to be 53 lbs overweight.

I am so happy that I finally got it under control!

2. I’ve had great success with intermittent fasting.

I don’t recommend it to everyone, but for someone like me who has obese genetics, it’s been teaching me how to really curb my appetite.

Intermittent fasting is simple.

I don’t have my first meal until 12:00 pm or 1:00 pm.

Sometimes, if I do feel hungry or in need of a boost, I’ll have a  Prograde protein powder mixed with almond milk.

But I usually don’t get hungry until the afternoon.

Like I said, fasting is not for everyone.  Only a few of my clients do it.

If you can tolerate it, it will speed up your progress!

3. I have vegetables with every meal.

As I mentioned, I usually have my first meal around 1:00 pm.

Then I’ll have a meal every three hours, 4:00 pm, and 7:00 pm.

No matter what I have, I’ll be sure to have a side of vegetables with every meal.

This has been really helping me in a lot of ways, not just to curb my appetite, but to also give me good energy and keeps me focused and full.

Here are my favs!

Broccoli, Spinach, Squash, Green Peppers, Lettuce and Cauliflower.

4. As for supplements, I’ve been keeping it simple and taking
pro-grade protein powder:
http://lifefuelfit.getprograde.com/protein-powder.html

Along with krill oil:
http://lifefuelfit.getprograde.com/essential-fatty-acid.html

Krill oil has been a game changer!

Mainly in terms of helping me shed body fat, along with keeping my brain super sharp.

***Cool study I came across showed that victims of severe brain damage were able to regenerate their brain function with 20 grams of krill oil everyday!***

You best believe that I’m also mega dosing krill oil.

Better Brain = Better Life.

5. I’ve make sure to have a cheat meal almost every weekend.

Since I’ve been monitoring myself very closely, I’ve noticed that if I don’t cheat on the weekends, my fat loss actually stagnates.

So time and time again, along with me and hundreds of my clients, I’ve noticed that cheating is good for the thyroid.

So all in all, I’m going to have a nice big fat juicy steak and a giant bowl of ice cream this weekend.

So there you go, those are my 5 main insights.

Go get’em tiger! :)

-AJ M.

 

20 Reasons Sugar Is Bad For Children
26Jul 2016
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The world sure does LOVE sugar.

Look closely and you’ll find it in just about everything…

The average jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce has more sugar than a box of poptarts, and while you may be aware that your breakfast cereal is full of the sweet stuff, most people are surprised to discover that so, too, is the milk we pour into it (one serving of organic whole milk averages 11 grams of sugar).

That’s almost 3 teaspoons of sugar, dumped right into your kid’s glass of milk (4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar)!

This troubling topic is the focus of the latest food documentary, Fed Up, in which Katie Couric digs deep into the obesity epidemic, and discovers a surprising culprit…

Sugar – not fat – is making us fat.

Whether this shocking information is new to you, or you’re well versed in the sugar epidemic our society seems to be facing…

It’s time for us to take a long, hard look at the flood of sugar that’s sneaking its way into our bodies through just about everything we put in our mouths.  More…

Change Your Body, Change Your Feelings
18Jul 2016
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Our health and fitness has a profound impact on our emotional lives. Our bodies are where our emotions are experienced and stored. It is within our bodies that we discover the key to unlocking our emotional intelligence.When an emotion is triggered in your brain, it sends a series of impulses all over your brain and body. Each emotion contains a “program” that causes very specific physiological changes that ready us for certain actions.

In other words, emotions live inside our bodies, and alter our physical experience.

For instance, the energy of sadness often feels heavy, anger feels choppy and sporadic, shame feels condensed and shrunken, excitement feels energized.

Conversely, by changing our physiology, we can alter our emotional experience.

For instance, when we’re angry, our breathing tends to be more shallow, we lean forward, and we feel the urge to be impulsive. By consciously slowing and deepening our breathing, clearing our minds, leaning backward and slowing down to a manageable pace, we can directly affect our anger and hear more clearly what it’s telling us before acting on it.

When we learn to slow down and listen to our bodies, they have an awful lot to tell us. At any given moment, we can find out (often to our own surprise) how we actually feel about something.

Tuning into your body can tell you whether you’re calm or stressed, feeling confident or discouraged, satisfying your needs, honoring yourself, feeling violated, safe, stuck, and so much more…

Oftentimes, the solutions to our problems lie inside our emotional-body, if only we would learn to listen and honor its messages.

Here are some simple ways you can use your body to affect positive emotional transformation in your life:

Regular Exercise

This one is a given, but is so crucial to our emotional health that it can’t be overlooked or left behind.

There have been countless studies showing the benefits of exercise and movement on our mood. Regular vigorous movement reduces stress, boosts our endorphins (aka happy chemicals!), improves our self-confidence, sharpens our minds, grounds us, inspires our creativity, and so much more.

When you add an emotional component to your workouts, they can also help you metabolize your feelings. For instance, if you’re feeling angry, allow yourself to release that anger through your exercise. Channel your aggression into the physical realm and release it out. Invite your feelings (whatever they may be) to come through your movement.

Improve Your Posture

The next time you’re feeling sad and discouraged, pay close attention to your posture. According to cognitive scientists, you’ll likely be slumped over with your neck and shoulders curved forward and head looking down.

While it’s true that you’re sitting this way because you’re sad, it’s also true that you’re sad because you’re sitting this way.

This concept, known as embodied cognition, is the idea that the relationship between our mind, body and emotions run both ways… meaning our mind/emotions influence the way our body reacts, but the form of our body also triggers our mind/emotions.

Recent experiments show that sitting in a collapsed, helpless position makes it easier for negative thoughts and memories to manifest, while sitting in an upright, powerful position makes it easier to have empowering thoughts and memories.

Just two minutes of sitting or standing up taller can alter your emotional state in amazingly powerful ways.

Eating Right For Your Body Type

The food we choose to consume is critical to our emotional wellbeing, since they directly affect our biochemistry (which is one of the greatest influencers in our emotional lives and our brain chemistry).

There are many factors to consider when determining your ideal diet. Your metabolism, your blood type and your genetic history are all factors you may want to consider.

But no matter what your body type is, humans all have the basic need to eat fresh, nutrient-dense, whole foods that make more energy deposits than they do withdrawals. Increasing the amount of these foods, while decreasing your intake of processed foods, is virtually guaranteed to positively affect your emotional experience.

Just observe the difference in how you feel one hour after eating a beautiful nutrient-rich salad with multiple servings of fresh vegetables, fruits and lean protein… vs. a fast-food fried chicken sandwich, French fries and a soda. Your body, energy and emotions really do speak for themselves.

Find Where Your Feelings Live in Your Body

People spend so much time talking about how they feel.  They attend workshops, visit therapists, and vent their feelings to anyone who will listen. They intellectualize and analyze their feelings… they think and talk about them… but they rarely feel them.

Emotions are physiological sensations that occur within your physical body. Therefore, developing an awareness of exactly WHERE you are feeling them, HOW they feel, and what you can do to release them in healthy ways, can be the key to emotional freedom.

Click here for a map of emotional anatomy, and more information on how locating your emotion’s origins can be the key to unlocking and releasing them.

E.F.T. (Emotional Freedom Technique)

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a type of psychological acupressure. While it makes use of the same energy meridians known in traditional acupuncture, EFT does not involve needles. Instead, gentle tapping with your fingertips is used to transfer kinetic energy onto specific meridians on your head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, anxiety, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.

This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the emotional block from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical dis-ease.

Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, your body can often rebalance itself, and accelerate healing.

Click here for a video that demonstrates how to tap for stress and anger.

Deep Breathing

Modern research has confirmed the connection between breathing and emotions.

Different emotional states are associated with distinct respiratory patterns. For example, rapid, shallow breathing occurs when one is anxious, while deep, slow breathing is associated with a state of relaxation.

Breath is unique among autonomic functions of the body, in that it can happen automatically (like digestion and heartbeat) OR it can be controlled. For this reason breath does not automatically accompany an emotional state but can, instead, be used to change one’s emotional state.

Studies have shown that purposeful, rapid, shallow breathing will cause anxiety while deep, slow breathing will create relaxation.

Here are three powerful types of yogic breathing that can benefit you in an intense emotional experience:

  1. Belly Breathing: Sometimes called diaphragmatic breathing, since it is marked by expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest, this technique is generally considered a healthier and fuller way to ingest oxygen, and is often used to reduce anxiety and stress and create a calming effect in the body. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5H_Qrcmxdg
  2. Alternate Nostril Breathing: This method is said to cool the mind and emotions while reducing stress and anxiety. Like the name, it involves alternating breathing through each nostril. It also can improve sleep, encourage a calmer emotional state, boost your thinking power and soothe your nervous system, all while balancing both hemispheres of the brain. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCK1jBfRVsE
  3. The 4-7-8 Breath (or Relaxing Breath): Some people have claimed this method to be the single most effective technique to reduce anxiety and retrain the nervous system to become calmer. It’s helpful with depression, irritability, muscle tension, headaches, and fatigue. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwlCk9XTz_U

More…

The Antidepressant In Your Refrigerator
19Apr 2016
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Written by Lifebook Member Dr. Joel Wade

About twenty years ago, my mom gave my then new bride and I what has over the years become one of our most use-worn cookbooks: The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Being someone at the time that enjoyed eating whatever I wanted, a cookbook with the word “diet” in it would not normally grab my attention.

But fortunately my wife is smarter than me, and I love olive oil, garlic, tasty spices, and fish, so these were and are recipes that have never felt like diet food. Throw in a little red wine, and you’ve got a regular celebration.

The idea is that, by eating food that features a variety of multicolored, nutrient rich vegetables, low in saturated fats, with an emphasis on more omega-3 fatty acids (found in deep water ocean fish like salmon), our hearts and the rest of our bodies can be much healthier over time.

But this story is becoming much more interesting…

It looks like the food we eat may have a lot to do with our psychological and emotional health as well.

In almost every area of life things have improved incredibly over the past five or six decades. Our health and longevity are better; pollution is lower; violence has declined; our abstract reasoning ability has grown… and technologically we have come to accept things like laptops and smart phones that were pure science fiction a half-century ago.

But there is one serious affliction that has grown by about five-fold over that same period of time: depression.

There are certainly many reasons for this. Martin Seligman has shown that depression is often a symptom of helplessness. We’re more sedentary nowadays, which can exacerbate a sense of the inability to act.

We also see the worst of what’s happening among all seven billion of us, piped directly into our limbic system via modern media, so if we watch the news at all, we can feel that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and that we’re helpless to do much about it… when the truth is mostly the opposite.

We also, I think, have less tolerance for what used to be normal fluctuations in mood, to the point where the current diagnostic manual of psychiatry doesn’t even allow for depression during a normal grieving period after losing someone we love.

But now we’re beginning to see a more interesting pattern regarding health and happiness – or their absence.

Just as we’re seeing with heart disease and certain brain disorders, it looks as though much of depression may have its roots in a physical process: inflammation.

What we eat has an even more direct and profound impact on this process.

More specifically, a diet full of vegetables may be one route, not only to better physical health, but to better mental health as well.

Research is showing that our happiness and mental health rise with the number of daily portions of fruit (berries are best) and vegetables we eat, peaking at about 7 helpings; it boosts mood at least as well as taking an antidepressant.

Seven helpings of fruits and vegetables a day significantly improves the mood and mental health of young adults around the age of nineteen; while on the other hand those eating the least healthy foods increase their risk of depression by 79%.

A Mediterranean Diet centers around vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereal, legumes and fish. It significantly reduces our risk of depression, and it cuts our risk of developing Alzheimer’s in half.

Then there’s the role of omega-3 fatty acids. We can get this in fish and flax seed oil, as well as meat, poultry and eggs that are grass fed. We can also take omega-3 fish oil supplements with good effect.

Omega-3’s counteract inflammation. They reduce our risk of depression, and reduce cognitive decline. They also lower aggression in normal and prison populations, and may reduce aggression and ADHD in children.

When we eat less fish, it’s associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety, and worse symptoms with affective and schizophrenic disorders – consistent with inflammation playing a role in these. In contrast, higher levels of omega-3’s may help bipolar disorder, and prevent progression to first episode psychosis in high risk youth.

This is a big deal. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorders have been some of the most difficult psychological troubles to help with. Medication can help but it also can have nasty side effects; and therapy is challenging and heroic work for the sufferer. This isn’t anything like a cure, but to have something simple that can improve things even a little bit can offer hope that’s been sorely lacking.

Our brains consume about 420 calories a day. They need omega-3 fatty acids, folate, fiber, choline, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12, E and D among other nutrients. Vitamin D is actually a hormone with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it also benefits our nerve function.

Then there’s our friends the bacteria…

There are more bacteria cells in our bodies than the cells of our bodies themselves – they’re much smaller, so they take up a lot less space. But we’re finding more and more the importance of the friendly bacteria in our guts.

The vegetables we’ve already talked about are prebiotics; these are what the helpful bacteria in our systems need to flourish.

After we eat prebiotics, we have significantly lower levels of cortisol when we wake up in the morning – high cortisol is linked to stress, anxiety and depression. We also pay less attention to negative information and more attention to positive information; so we have less anxiety about negative or threatening things.

That could be a problem if we lived in the kind of very dangerous environment that our more distant ancestors did. But for most of us, most of the time, our troubles come from over-reacting to things that look negative or threatening, but actually are not.

Probiotics are the friendly bacteria themselves. We can get these through eating things like yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso soup. Probiotics are connected to how we process information related to anxiety and depression, and they influence the stress response. There have been cases of deep, intractable depression being lifted through eating probiotics. This isn’t a common occurrence, but it does show how severe the absence of these friendly bacteria can be.

In my office I have shelves full of books on psychology. I could never have guessed twenty years ago that a cookbook would compete with them in importance. But with all the research coming out on lifestyle, happiness, and psychological health, it may be that what’s in our refrigerator is as important as what’s going on in our heads.

More…

Found my fitness purpose after 10 years of searching
25Aug 2015
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Written By: Lifebook Member Julia Z

Over the past ten years, I have experimented with countless methods of extreme weight loss and dieting: triathlons, Bikram yoga challenges, marathons, eating raw, cleanses, veganism, vegetarianism, eating Paleo, eating alkaline- you name it! I would lose some, then gain some, then give up some. And start back all over again.

You see, for ten years I was seeking fitness but didn’t have a deep purpose as to WHY I wanted to be in shape. To be beautiful? Sure. To be happy? Of course! But even those things weren’t enough of a WHY to keep me committed.

What happened to me on January 12th wasn’t extraordinary, it was what had become a normal Sunday: I was rather lethargic, whining about not wanting to do laundry and tempted to zone out in front of a T.V. show instead of engaging with my environment (which desperately needed my attention!). It occurred to me that I hadn’t had energy to do much the month before, nor the month before that. Where had my energy and connection to life gone? More…

“Lifebook Changed How I Think About My Life”
28Jul 2015
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My Lifebook experience has changed how I think about my life. While I have had some success in my life, going through the Lifebook process helped me realize that I can have so much more. Life can be better. I can dream bigger. I can get rid of bad habits and form good habits that will help me become the best me.

When I arrived in Chicago for my Lifebook week, I had been drinking diet sodas for many years. I was drinking around 3 diet sodas a day. My wife would periodically suggest that there the chemicals in the diet soda were not good for me, but she knew that the change had to come from me. At the Lifebook week in Chicago, no soda was available. I decided that I would try to use that opportunity to stop drinking soda. I tried the Yogi Tangerine energy tea and the Chai tea which were both pretty good. When I went home and started craving a soda, I would remind myself that I’m that guy that doesn’t drink soda. I was choosing who I wanted to be, not falling back into my old habit. I have not had a soda since my Lifebook week. I drink tea (no sugar) instead. I’ve also kept my commitment to go to the gym on a consistent basis 6 days a week. Its just what I do. I also reached first monthly weight-loss goal and will continue until I reach my target optimal weight. More…

How Crossfit Will Radically Improve The Way Your Body Looks, Feels and Moves
30Jun 2015
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Written by Lifebook Member Nicholas Araza

There are so many ways to work out these days; it can be hard to choose. Some regimens focus on calorie burning, some focus on endurance, some gyms just let you go at it alone with no guidance and on the other spectrum others supervise you’re every move. With so many ways to work out, what should we do?

As always, and no surprise to the Lifebook crew, that depends on what our goals are. My fitness journey began with being strong like Ah-nold, how I looked and having “big guns” as my motivation, but after much pain, injury and little result, I started asking better questions.  I started asking “how should I exercise to get healthier and feel better.” Much to my surprise the answer to those question made the BIGGEST change in my health AND my physique and has done so for thousands of others. As simple as this is, healthier people look better, feel better and are more fit.  But how do we define fitness and how can we work out to feel better?

Enter CrossFit… More…

4 Simple Things Daphne Did to Change Her Life
23Jun 2015
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This has been an incredible journey for me…so far. I have seen such improvement in several areas of my life and am excited about the path that my life is taking. Having this clear picture of what I would like my life to be has been so energizing in accomplishing my day-to-day activities.

The first area that is doing so much better is my relationship with my husband. Our weekly dates and intentional connection times have put life back into our relationship. The fact that we both share in the Lifebook way, has allowed us to blend our visions so well and has allowed us to take strides into our dreams. It has allowed me to expand my social relationships and have freed time so that I am able to connect with distant family members more regularly.

The other area is in my quality of life. Having hired a Happiness Officer/Personal Assistant to help me with the day-to-day busy work has freed my time. My time is now focused on my relationships, my career and my health and together has allowed me to be much effective in the actions that I take.

Finally, my health and fitness, the one areas that I struggled with the most is really taking a turn for the better. I have worked out more than I have in the last two month than in the last year combined. There is still much more headway to do but it is improving on a daily basis.

I have to say that Lifebook is the best personal development program I have ever done because it takes all areas of life into consideration and crystallizes my life vision – making all daily tasks easier to accomplish.

-Daphne Maxwell