The Rungry Health Coach

5 Ways to Naturally Boost Energy Levels

We all know what's it's like to roll out of bed and not feel rested.

We also all know what it's like to fall into the famous 3 PM slump, and need a cup of coffee (or three) to make it to 5 PM. 

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As helpful as that cup of coffee can be, the caffeine stays in our system for hours after consumption and could very well keep you up at night. Plus, it's not healthy to continually rely on caffeine.

Think of that cup of coffee as a Band Aid. It covers the problem, but doesn't necessarily fix the issue. To address chronic fatigue and a poor night's sleep, try getting to bed earlier. (And keep a consistent sleep schedule!) You can also limit technology use, as the blue light emitted from phones, computers, etc. actually disrupts our body's natural ability to deliver melatonin. Get to the source of the problem first.

But sometimes even after a good night's sleep, you don't feel rested. On those days, there are ways to combat fatigue and give yourself a much-needed boost.

  1. Try a cold shower. Whether it be first-thing in the morning, or when you feel like you need a pick-me-up, try cranking that faucet handle to cold. As our body tries to handle the shock of cold water, we begin to breath deeper, which increases our oxygen consumption
  2. Drink lots of water. When we don't drink enough water, our body starts to lose energy. To know how much water you need, divide your bodyweight in half, and that number in ounces is how much water you should be drinking.
  3. Supplement with B12. While not a long-term solution, a high-quality, whole-food B12 supplement will keep your cells happy. B12 helps regulate thyroid function, but is water-soluble. That means your body cannot store extra B12, and relies instead on the foods you eat everyday to get enough B12, and other B vitamins. If you're deficient in B12, your energy levels will be lacking.
  4. Get some daily movement. A tough workout can give the body a much-needed boost, but if you're at work and unable to get the gym, get away from the desk and go for a walk. Try incorporating a little bit of movement into certain times of day. Movement helps send oxygen to the body's cells and helps your heart and lungs work more efficiently.
  5. Reach for complex carbs. Carbohydrates are broken into two camps--simple and complex. Simple carbs (fruit, white bread, sugar, white rice) are quickly digested in the body and used for quick energy. Once our body uses up that energy, it's typically for energy levels to dip. Familiar with the sugar crash after eating candy? That's what I'm talking about. Complex carbohydrates, however, take longer to digest and provide longer-lasting energy. Bonus points when combined with a healthy fat and/or protein. If you're crashing in the middle of the afternoon and need a snack, bypass the blueberry muffin and instead reach for some whole-grain cracker and avocado.
Do you struggle with fluctuating energy levels? Send me a message!

The Rungry Health Coach

10 Tips to Have a Healthy and Awesome Vacation

So often, vacations become calorie-laden bombs. Individuals think that like them, their goals and habits are also on vacation. Soon, this becomes a justification to drink every night and eat heavy foods until the point of extreme fullness. And upon return, your body feels greasy, groggy, bloated, uncomfortable. Ever feel like you need a vacation "detox?"

I used to travel like this all the time. I would take that vacation time as an excuse to stuff myself with all the foods I deprived myself of during my regular life. I also stopped exercising. There was also a time that I was so afraid of other foods and calories, that I would eat very particular things and make sure to bring all of my own snacks. The latter mindset would not let me fully enjoy the experience. 

I traveled at one of two extremes...I had no middle ground. No balance. 

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Now, I allow myself to indulge in treats, but only as they sound good. I only eat something I truly want...and I eat until I'm satisfied. (That may mean just a few bites.) I do something active everyday--a morning run, a bodyweight workout, walking, bike tour. I drink alcohol sparingly and instead drink plenty of water. I put emphasis on vegetables but still seek out local delicacies. I also still bring snacks--especially for the airplane. And as a vegetarian who eats fish occasionally, I don't let my preferences stop me from enjoying the local foods. If I want something with meat, then I'll eat something with meat.

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My mindset on travel has drastically changed. It's because I allow myself to enjoy the vacation, but I also keep my long-term goals in the back of my mind. I don't like the idea of coming home bloated and uncomfortable. I don't like the idea of needing a "detox." I put emphasis on daily movement, I eat until satisfied and I know that all foods are on the table. I put memories over calories...but I do it within reason. And when I'm home in my normal life, I allow myself to have a few treats so stop me from feeling deprived. 

You can truly enjoy your vacation without guilt and without extreme restriction. Here are my top 10 tips to have a vacation you love without sacrificing the experience. 
  1. Pack plenty of snacks. Depending on where you're traveling, you may not have immediate access to something to eat--especially when the hunger beast comes. And for long plane rides, having snacks at the ready not only decreases cost, but stops you from eating poor-quality airline food. Apples, oranges, avocados and veggie sticks travel well. Protein bars, jerky and hard-boiled eggs are great protein options. You can even pack a whole meal salad!
  2. Put emphasis on daily movement. You don't have to continue your strict exercise regimen while on vacation, but some kind of daily movement can go a long way. It can also help ease jet lag. And daily movement, doesn't have to be structured exercise. You could go for a long walking tour or rent a bike. Of course, you can still carve out some time to do a sweat session. There are many pieces of equipment like resistance loops or bands that can travel well. 
  3. Seek out vegetables. Often during vacation, we put sweets and other delacies over veggies. If possible, aim for a vegetable at every meal. You can also challenge yourself to eat a salad every day.
  4. Eat until satisfied, not full. It can be really, really easy to eat an entire piece of chocolate cake for example, well past the point of feeling satisfied. There comes a point where eating that cake no longer becomes enjoyable. Sometimes eating until satisfied does not mean finishing the entire piece of cake, plate of food or ice cream cone. Eat until you're satisfied. 
  5. Put memories over calories. Put down your calorie counter and don't fret about all that you're eating. Enjoy yourself, but again, listen to the cues your body is sending and don't eat until you're overly uncomfortable.
  6. Lay off alcohol. I know...I know. Alcohol always seems an integral part of vacations, but it does inhibit our functioning. And as we get older, our bodies just can't bounce back quite as fast as they did. Enjoy a glass of wine at dinner every now and then, but try not to go overboard.
  7. Do something educational. While you're in a new place, do everything that you can to learn about the local culture and customs. Immerse yourself in the goings-on. Visit a museum, take a tour or talk to the locals. Feed your soul with information.
  8. Disconnect from your phone. Do you really need me to expand on this?
  9. Prioritize sleep. You may be in a new place, but that doesn't mean you can't get a good night's sleep. Stick to a reasonable bed time and wake up time. If you're struggling from jet lag, do your best to get yourself on the country's time table. This will make it easier for you to adjust.
  10. Choose local eats over creature comforts. You're in a new region, state or country--I hope you're sampling the local cuisine! But, I do understand how a few days away from your own routine and favorite foods can be overwhelming. As tempting as it may be to indulge in something form your home, remind yourself this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That burger, peanut butter blob or fried chicken will still be there when you get home. 
Beth Sandwich
Need more help with mindset shifts? Set up a FREE health strategy call!

The Rungry Health Coach

Five Awesome Foods for Runners

Runners are a unique breed of human: They believe that all of life’s problems can be solved with a long run, and get excited about a $125 pair of sneakers. (They won’t blister your feet!)

With this uniqueness comes a unique set of needs, especially when it comes to fueling. Runners need a good mix of nourishing fuel to help them continue doing the sport they love. Similarly, like filling up your car, not all fuels are created equal—some nourish, heal and energize our bodies better than others.

To help boost performance, heal quicker and ease pain and inflammation, there are five foods that stand out to help a runner.

Fruits and Nuts

Probiotics

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of probiotics because new research is constantly coming out about them. But what are those little buggers? They’re these microscopic bacteria that live in your gut and boost health. They keep you healthy by being the gateway to your immune system. When we eat more probiotics, we’re setting our bodies up for success.

Probiotics can help athletes by supporting proper immune function, and by increasing antioxidant absorption. These little guys also improve digestion and the absorption of protein and fats, which is good news because athletes have the highest nutrient needs than anyone.

Probiotics come in many forms. Many organic grocery stores carry probiotic capsules. Do read labels to learn what strands you’re getting. But probiotics from food may be best. Naturally-occurring probiotics can be found in yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and kimchi.

Also, make sure you’re eating fibrous foods like banana, onions and garlic, which are considered pre-biotics. These act as the food source for the bacteria.

Beets

Beets have a very distinct taste—you either love them or hate them. But, beets are incredibly beneficial for athletes and runners.

Beets have naturally-occurring nitrates. It’s converted in the body into a compound that helps dilate the blood vessels. With the vessels dilated, a runner’s blood-flow capacity is increased and it lowers the amount of oxygen needed. This is good because it helps a runner use oxygen more efficiently and ultimately move more efficiently.

These vegetables can be spiced and roasted, turned into soup, blended into smoothies and even grated into salads. Beets can be eaten cooked or raw. If you’re on the fence with these red-hued powerhouses, try golden beets! Their flavor isn’t as earthy as their red counterparts.

Avocado

Fats are friends, not foes! (Please tell me you’re imagining a shark…)

Yes, fats got a bad rap in the 1990s, but they’re incredibly beneficial to runners. Fat provides energy. Although our body’s main source of energy is carbohydrates, when those stores run low, our bodies run on fats instead. There are certain vitamins as well, that need fat to be metabolized and properly absorbed. Fat is also loaded with beneficial fiber, and fiber helps keep the tubes running properly and smoothly.

Avocado Toast

Whether you pile on the guacamole to your toast, add avocado to your dinner, hide avocado in a batch of brownies or simply add some into your smoothie, avocados

Ginger/Turmeric

Both ginger and turmeric, either ground or fresh, have anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is a warming spice and it has antiseptic properties. It can also promote circulation throughout the body. Turmeric can be used as a medicinal herb and it can drastically increase the anti-oxidant capacity of the body.

Sprinkle liberally in spices or stews, add a fresh chunk into your morning smoothie or add a thin slice to tea as it steeps. 

When it comes to turmeric, also add some black pepper (Yes…even in smoothies!) to help with the absorption of the turmeric.

Coconut Water

During a long run, a runner’s electrolyte stores run dry, and they need replenished. Electrolytes are minerals that help stimulate the muscles and nerves. They also help regulate the body’s fluids which can affect blood pressure, blood volume and cell function.

Most runners and athletes reach for an over-sugared sports drink. They’re often handed out at races, too. In addition to having a sugary punch and artificial colors, they are nutritionally void.  Coconut water is nature’s sports drink.

Coconut water, the clear liquid inside a coconut, is higher in naturally-occurring electrolytes than sports drinks, and is also lower in sugar. It’s incredibly hydrating and very versatile.

Add it to smoothies, fill up your hand-held waterbottle, or make your own sports drink!

Next time you run to the grocery store to grab these foods, read up on some of my favorite grocery store tips! Download my FREE guide.

The Rungry Health Coach

Why I Stopped Counting Calories

Dietary numbers surrounded me most of my life--calories, fat grams, Weight Watcher points. The numbers were always there. So, when I wanted to lose weight after graduating college in 2009, I started counting calories. It seemed like the obvious choice.

I downloaded a little fitness app to my iPod Touch (I'm dating myself), and started counting. At first, it was such a rush to see the numbers add up. I loved adding in my exercises and seeing my deficit increase. I distinctly remember a day where I had consumed under 300 calories after adding in my exercise. And I was so pleased with myself.

But the habit wasn't sustainable. It made going out to eat incredibly difficult and awkward--seeing as I always had to type something in. 

It took me about two years to lose 25 pounds, and throughout that time, I switched on and off with calorie counting. Eventually, I realized how unsustainable the habit was, and stopped. But my disordered eating habits continued.

I frequently thought about food and used it as a weapon. I ate too much or too little. I chose food as comfort and did not choose foods that fueled my body properly. I demonized foods and labeled them as "good" and "bad." When I switched to a whole foods diet, I neared orthorexia and began to demonize all "unhealthy" foods instead. (I was terrified of things like white bread!)

Then, I wanted to lean out. 

It was 2015, and I began working with a dietitian to increase my muscle mass and lose body fat. She prescribed macronutrient numbers to reach--those are suggested ratios of proteins, carbs and fats. She knew about my history of disordered eating and I had convinced her and myself that I was over it. (Spoiler: I wasn't.)

70.3 Chuck Norris


I re-downloaded the calorie counting app--this time on my iPhone--and began to track. I did see some results from using my dietitian's suggested numbers. I started feeling much stronger in my runs. I felt well fueled. But slowly I started to obsess.

I planned out my day of eating meticulously at the beginning of every day. I tried hard not to go out to eat, and if I did, I tried to find foods and numbers that best fit what I could find via the app. I developed a phobia of certain foods--especially carbohydrates. I kept telling myself I was healed from my eating disorder days. 

To make this more complicated, I was training for my first marathon, and I followed this eating style to the T while training. My daily caloric base was around 1,800--again, while marathon training--and my dietitian told me I could lose a little weight. (I remember, I was under 128 pounds.) There was a rule that I could eat an addition 100 calories for every mile I ran over six miles. I looked forward to those days because that meant I could eat more.

After that race, I knew I needed to get out of this. I wasn't seeing the results I wanted. I wasn't "leaning out." So I switched dietitians. My experience with her was a good one and I was able to wean myself off of macronutrient counting.

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Now, I just eat.

I try not to worry about calories, fat grams, sugar grams or macronutrients. I know how unsustainable counting can be. While some people may need to count macronutrients to reach certain goals (I'm looking at you, body builders), it's not a habit the rest of us need to undertake.

I do still naturally balance things like my carbohydrate intake (maybe I don't need bread at every meal), and I do consume more protein on days where I'm lifting very heavy. But, I have become much more fluid with my carbohydrate and gain intake--something I needed to do. 

My body has a good understanding of what it needs and wants. I listen to those cravings and callings. I still put emphasis one wholesome ingredients--but I let my body do the rest. Sometimes, I eat more. Sometimes, I eat less. I try to put emphasis on protein, fats and veggies first, and try not to worry about the rest.

By breaking my habit with numbers, I was able to continue healing from my eating disorder. Even today,  it's still an ongoing recovery process, but I know I'm doing right by my body. 

Do you struggle with counting calories? Are you ready to stop using tracking apps?