The Complex Relationship Between Sleep and Weight

Rather listen than read?

This blog is guest written by Sheila Johnson at https://www.wellsheila.net .

Are you struggling with stubborn body fat while suffering from insomnia? Or perhaps you’ve gained a few pounds and aren’t sleeping as well as you used to. It’s easy to write these connections off as coincidence, but there’s a complex relationship between weight and sleep. Not only does your weight affect how well you sleep, but sleep also impacts your ability to maintain a healthy weight. Wild Flowers Grow invites you to read on if you’re ready to get better sleep and lose weight. 

How Weight Affects Sleep (and Vice Versa)

Excess weight is linked to sleep disorders

Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes the airway to become obstructed during sleep. Because sleep apnea reduces sleep quality, it can lead to further weight gain due to sleep quality’s impact on appetite, exercise, and metabolism.

Poor sleep makes you hungrier

Sleep deprivation causes the body to release more appetite-stimulating hormones and suppresses leptin, a hormone that tells your brain when you’re full. If that’s not bad enough, insomniacs are also more likely to reach for high-fat, high-sugar, and high-calorie foods.

Poor sleep makes it harder to exercise

People are less likely to exercise when sleep deprived. Even if you work up the will to hit the gym, workouts tend to be shorter and less intense when you’re not well-rested.

Poor sleep leads to weight gain

There’s also research that suggests poor sleep lowers resting metabolism and increases insulin resistance, two things that make it even harder to lose weight.

These facts are scary, but you can break the cycle of insomnia and weight gain.

How to Sleep Better with Excess Weight

Before you get serious about losing weight, you need to address your poor sleep quality. These are some things you can do to sleep better when you’re carrying extra weight:

Get a supportive mattress

If you’ve gained weight, your old mattress might not be as supportive as it used to be. Many heavier individuals find foam mattresses don’t provide enough support to align their spine, which can lead to back pain and difficulty sleeping. If you’re on the heavier side and tend to toss and turn most nights, switching to a larger size innerspring mattress for more support could be the perfect solution to help you achieve better sleep.

Avoid eating and drinking before bed

Overweight people are more likely to experience acid reflux. To reduce nighttime heartburn, stop eating and drinking three hours before bed. If you’re a side sleeper, sleep on your left side.

Exercise more

Exercise is proven to improve sleep. Vigorous aerobic exercise like running or HIIT is best for sleep, but even moderate-intensity exercise makes a difference. However, avoid intense exercise right before bed. If you’re looking for a nighttime workout, try a mindful yoga routine instead. Better yet, making yoga a regular activity can enhance your ability to feel more relaxed since it’s a great stress reducer. If you need some extra motivation, use discounts to splurge on some new activewear from stores like Nike or Finish Line. 

Talk to your doctor

Sleep apnea and snoring may go away with weight loss, but in the meantime, it’s important to address sleep disorders that leave you waking up groggy. Talk to your doctor about sleep apnea. You may be prescribed a sleep study and a PAP machine.

Weight Loss Tips for Better Sleep (and Health!)

Now that you’re sleeping better, it’s easier to conquer your weight loss goals. There are tons of weight loss tips out there, but these simple tips are at the core of any weight loss plan:

Eat filling foods

Controlling your appetite will be a challenge at first, so avoid empty calories and instead, focus on filling foods like proteins, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.

Find exercise you enjoy

Consistency is the most important thing when it comes to exercise, so find something you can commit to. Again, yoga is fantastic when you’re starting a weight loss journey because it’s low-impact, beginner-friendly, and adaptable to every body.

Focus on the dos, not the don’ts

It’s common to approach weight loss by taking things away — junk food, calories, lazy nights on the sofa. Instead of focusing on what’s off-limits, work on building healthy behaviors. Planning your meals, eating more vegetables, and getting active are positive goals that build you up.

It’s hard to find the motivation to get healthy when you’re not sleeping well. Unfortunately, poor lifestyle habits also make it harder to catch quality rest. If you’re stuck in the cycle of sleep loss and weight gain, use these tips to get your sleep and your health back on track.

Image via Unsplash

This blog is written by Sheila Johnson at https://www.wellsheila.net . For more info and to contact her directly, head over to her website and see what she has to offer! 

Want More?

And, if you are not getting my weekly emails…

Instagram3

I love inspiration through story-telling! If you liked this article, then you will love my other blogs.

Click here to get my Free 10-day body reset detox guide. You will become part of my tribe and get weekly blogs delivered straight to your inbox (along with a free gift and other insider tips that only my tribe will get)!

9 Immune-Boosting Foods

Rather listen than read?

The topic of immune health is quite popular, especially during times of the year when it feels like we are highly susceptible and don’t have time to get sick.

Getting sick and being sick can feel like your world stops — everything is put on hold. And that is part of why we get so intense about the extra measures taken to NOT get sick in the first place.

*Cue in all the health books, wellness podcasts, and immune boosting products…

Keeping a strong immune system was once thought only important during the cold weathered months when catching a cold or the flu was high. What you may not know is that a strong immune system proves to be important at all times of year and at all stages of life. Getting and being sick is not just about the germs we encounter. It starts way before that and with the rise in sugary drinks and processed, packaged foods dominating the store shelves, protecting your immune system is a key component to long-lasting vitality and health for years to come. 

Did you know?  Taking care of your gut health is key when wanting to boost your immune system — 70% of immune cells are in the digestive tract. We want to keep the gut strong and feed the body the nutrients it needs, all at the same time. 

Here are 9 foods that are power-packed with immune-boosting health benefits:

  1. Dark green leafy vegetables: Naturally low in sugar and high in life-giving chlorophyll, green leafy vegetables give you more sustained energy. They are also high in fiber, Vitamins A, C, and K. Eat a variety of greens such as kale, spinach, mustard greens, dandelion, collard greens, beet greens, swiss chard, just to name a few. 
  2. Vegetables: Vegetables are packed with a variety of immune builders and it pays to eat a variety. They are high in prebiotic fibers which help to nourish the growth of good bacteria that exist naturally in your gut by contributing to an environment that is optimal for good digestive health. Gut health is critical for immune health. Vegetables are also high in Vitamins A, B6, C, K, copper, and polyphenols. Try foods such as broccoli, carrots, brussel sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, kale, onion, root vegetables, and seaweed.
  3. Bright colored fruit and berries: Even though fruit can be high in sugar, they still give your body a healthy dose of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and polyphenols. And, foods like apples, bananas, and berries are loaded with prebiotic fibers. Since fruit can be high in sugar, stick to 1-2 servings of fruit a day. Try noshing on guava, kiwi, currants, or any other fruit that fits your tastebuds. 
  4. Nuts and seeds: These gems are not only loaded with heart-healthy fats, but they are also high in Vitamins B6, E, thiamine, selenium, and zinc. Boost your immune system with almonds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, and pistachios. 
  5. Fish/Seafood: Choosing a high-quality fish or seafood is an excellent source of protein that nourishes the immune system as well as the heart and the brain. These are high in Vitamins B12, D, selenium, phosphorus, and zinc. Make sure to buy wild-caught instead of farm-raised. Try mixing it up with fish, sardines, mackerel, cod liver oil, oysters, salmon, and trout. 
  6. Fermented foods: Like prebiotic fiber, fermented foods are good for gut health. They help to boost the good gut bacteria and create a stronger gut lining, important for a strong immune system. Try foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, fermented and/or cultured foods, etc. 
  7. Bone broth: Bone broth improves your gut health, enabling the immune system cells there to function effectively and prevent pathogens from moving from your digestive tract throughout your body. It also helps to restore the intestinal lining, resulting in improved intestinal functioning.
  8. Herbs and Spices: Busting at the seams with antioxidants, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and/or antiviral properties, herbs and spices are likes the icing on top of the proverbial cake — they boost the power of your food. They are also abundant in Vitamins A, C, B6, E, K, folate, and iron. Try chili, cayenne, tarragon, garlic, turmeric, thyme, basil, bay leaf, curry, oregano, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, etc.
  9. Beans and Lentils: Not only are beans delicious, but they are also rich in fiber to keep things moving along. Eat a serving of beans and you will also get folate, thiamine, and iron. Try aduki beans, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils.

Want to really get the best bang for your eating buck? Eating these foods locally and seasonally will boost your immune system even further. Seasonal foods are at their freshest and most dense in nutrients, giving you the biggest bang for your buck. And the local food benefits? Not only do they support your community and local farmers, but they have less travel time and can be picked when they are at their ripest! 

Are you looking for a quality probiotic to help get your gut health (and ultimately your immune system) in better balance? I use and love Just Thrive probiotic.  If you want to try it, you can get 15% off with the code Tansy15 !

Want more?

Join my Patreon and become part of my garden of wild flowers! Not only will you be part of the exclusive content that I ONLY share with my Patreon members, but you will also be helping a community of holistic health like-minded people push forward!

And, if you are not getting my weekly emails…

Instagram3

I love inspiration through story-telling! If you liked this article, then you will love my other blogs.

Click here to get my Free 10-day body reset detox guide. You will become part of my tribe and get weekly blogs delivered straight to your inbox (along with a free gift and other insider tips that only my tribe will get)!

8 Tips To Stay Committed To Your Goals

Rather listen than read?

Setting the goals has never been the problem. It is easy to think about what we want and write it down on a piece of paper. 

The real challenge comes with staying committed to a goal. When life gets in the way or old thought patterns creep in, it is easy to fall off and let go of what you were once so excited about accomplishing.

A big misconception — one that I find might trip you up the most — is believing that it is all about inner motivation and willpower to get you through. Those might work for the short term and when the going is easy, but when life throws an obstacle or the sweetness of that goal isn’t so sweet, inner motivation and willpower lose their muscle strength. 

Creating real consistency and commitment goes much deeper — I mean to the depths of your soul deep. And if those uncharted territories are not ready (and willing) for the challenge, then you might just find yourself asking once again, “What went wrong.”

Or maybe you tell yourself that you are not strong enough, good enough, capable enough, worthy enough to have what you really want. The cycle begins…

Staying committed to what you say you are going to do way longer than the excitement lasts comes down to a simple concept that is the foundation of all the tips I have for you today. 

This simple concept is so simple indeed, yet it can be one of the most challenging concepts you step into — if you don’t know how to navigate it, that is.

Brain rewiring.

What is brain rewiring? The brain is made up of neural pathways that connect and bind to each other. As you begin to perform a behavior or a skill or are learning something new, those neural pathways begin to deepen. And as they deepen, they also connect to each other, creating a network of communication. This is how habits, ways of being, and belief systems are formed. Essentially, rewiring the brain is when the connections between neurons in your brain are changing. To create lasting change in anything that you do, a level of brain rewiring is necessary to occur. This could be something as simple as daily affirmations done the right way or changing the circle of friends that you spend most of your time with. Or, this could go much deeper into working through inner child trauma and shadow work. 

Staying committed to a new habit or goal requires brain rewiring and changing up the status quo. 

Regardless of where you need to start, the best thing to do is just start. Taking any step of action creates forward momentum, allowing you to begin believing in yourself and that you have the power to create change. And just the belief in yourself that you are creating is a powerful form of brain rewiring. 

You have all that power within you!

8 Tips To Help You Rewire Your Brain

  1. Start (or end) your day with visualizations. The first 20 minutes after waking up and those moments right before you fall asleep are some of the most powerful times to create change. At these two points, your brain is in a Theta brain wave state, the time that is best to connect into your subconscious and really crack into those deeply stored (and often forgotten) beliefs and stories that you have been gathering over the years. These are part of what creates who we are and how we behave. They are also part of what can hold us back and create a disconnect to staying committed to what we say we want to do. For example, if you really want to stay committed to a workout program, but you have the deep belief that taking time for yourself is selfish or it takes time away from your family, then you may struggle with staying committed to that hour of workout time that you promised you were going to do to help you in your healthy goals. Start with 5-10 minutes of quiet time, away from any distractions, and begin visualizing what you want, how you want to look doing it, how you want to feel while doing it, how you want to feel afterwards, and that you are capable of being successful at it. Do this everyday until you start seeing some shifts in your commitment level and your inner motivation.
  2. Positive affirmations spoken daily. When you give yourself  the gift of support and become your inner cheerleader, something incredible starts to happen — you begin to believe and act in ways that align to what you are telling yourself. The key with affirmations actually working is that they have to be statements that excite you, spoken with excitement and belief that it is possible, and spoken regularly. Create an affirmation statement that really pumps you up and is exciting. For example:  “Abundance and love come to me so easily and effortlessly. It is so awesome that I am working out 3 days a week and living in a strong, healthy body. I am confident, vibrant, and full of abundance. Can you believe how easily the weight just melts off of me? I am strong and powerful and full of energy. I can do anything I put my heart and mind into!” Say your affirmation statement out loud at least 10x a day. You can even record it and play it back to yourself throughout your day so that you constantly are hearing your words of empowerment.
  3. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Surrounding yourself with other like-minded folks gives you an energy boost. When your energy is elevated, so is your motivation and inner confidence. Creating that support team is critical for brain rewiring. Sometimes the most positive and supportive people are not the closest people in our vicinity. We can not pick the family that we are born into and we can not control all the negativity that may surround you at work, but you can seek out positive reinforcement. Google search or check out your local newspaper for activities or groups that may share the same interests as you and/or are looking to create change in their own lives. When you have that support from like-minded people, you are going to be more likely to stay committed to your own goals.
  4. Journal goals and track progress. Writing down your goals solidifies them into your reality. Getting them out of your head and onto paper makes them real and workable. But, it doesn’t stop here. Tracking your goals is an important part of the  process. Like driving to a far away destination, you can not get there without a road map and without tracking where you are along that road map. Start by writing one or two goals (i.e., ” I want to lose 20 lbs) and then brainstorming on how to do that and what your timeline looks like. As you progress, regularly track your progress and see what is working and what is not. It is a great way to keep you visually motivated and remind how awesome you are doing. It is also a way to visualize what you want to see happen and how you can make that happen. 
  5. Limit time around those that bring you down.  Those that bring you down can literally suck the energy out of you. They can create an energy shift within yourself that decreases motivation. Even worse, they can continually feed you thoughts that keep you stuck in old, unproductive patterns and habits. This deepens the neural pathways and brain rewiring that you are trying to change. This could be your family, friends, coworkers, or people where you hang out. It could even be your spouse. It may not always be feasible to completely sever ties, but you still can take action. Limit your time as much as possible and, when that seems impossible, arm yourself with other tactics that preserve your energy and new thought patterns to get you through the interaction.
  6. Break down goals into small daily obtainable action steps. When creating habit change, it can feel daunting and overwhelming. Especially the deeper brain rewiring work it is that you have to do. Overwhelm causes stress, irrational thinking, and thoughts that you are not capable of reaching your goal. To rewire your brain, small action steps can set you up for success and belief in yourself. If you have a goal to lose 20 lbs in 3 months, start by breaking that down into monthly goals (i.e., 7 lbs or so per month), then into weekly goals (i.e., 4-5 days of exercise), then into daily goals (i.e., eat 2 extra servings of vegetables each day). 
  7. Create a vision board. Humans are visual creators. Vision boards are enhancing that visual need to help you focus on exactly what you are working to obtain. You can do a life vision board and put on stimulating and colorful pictures of what you would like to achieve in this life and/or you can do a specific vision board for a certain area of your life. For example, if you are looking to feel more energy and vitality, your vision board could revolve around your nutrition plans, exercise programs you want to try, how you want to look, what kind of clothing you want to buy, how your feel inside, and what your spirituality looks like – all the little things that will fulfill what having “more energy and vitality” means to you. Where does the brain rewiring come in to effect? Everyday, take a few moments to look at your vision board and picture yourself doing or being that person — What does it look like? What does it feel like? What would it mean for you? — Get excited about it coming. Day by day, you are rewiring and becoming exactly that person!
  8. Learn self-love and acceptance of yourself.  This is really what it all comes down to. When you do not believe in yourself and accept who you truly are – the unique and empowered you – it becomes almost impossible to make healthy, permanent change. Looking outside of yourself for validation and acceptance will never truly allow yourself long-term commitment to your goals. Start by focusing on what is inside you. What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? What are your fears and what is holding you back? How do you support yourself and how do you self-sabotage? What blocks your flow and your energy? All of these are keys to working through so you can get to know, accept, and trust yourself and your intuition. This is where the deeper work comes in — the shadow work, the inner child healing, the trauma repair. To get started, you could journal on inner child work, talk to trusted friends for support and advice, go to a counselor, meditate, learn how to be mindful and grounded, or search out knowledge to help you grow and learn as a person. The process is really your creation and you can go how fast or slow you feel that you need. 

Rewiring your brain is the foundation of any goal commitment. Especially the more challenging ones! Start the process. You can choose one or many from the list above or you can use this as inspiration to explore other avenues that resonate and excite you. Just remember — you have all the power lying within you!

Want more?

Join my Patreon and become part of my garden of wild flowers! Not only will you be part of the exclusive content that I ONLY share with my Patreon members, but you will also be helping a community of holistic health like-minded people push forward!

And, if you are not getting my weekly emails…

Instagram3

I love inspiration through story-telling! If you liked this article, then you will love my other blogs.

Click here to get my Free 10-day body reset detox guide. You will become part of my tribe and get weekly blogs delivered straight to your inbox (along with a free gift and other insider tips that only my tribe will get)!

8 Ways To Relieve Seasonal Affect Disorder And Depression

Rather listen than read?

Winter used to be synonymous with feeling sad and not like myself.

The holidays would come and go. And so would my spirits — feeling like I was constantly in a state of doom and gloom. 

I truly dreaded winter time because of this. As I got older, I started to realize that I was not alone. Others felt the stranglehold of winter’s grip around their hearts and I started to feel something new…

Normalcy.

And for many years, I lived in normalcy where I would curse the winter and grump my way through my day. That was until I learned about what it really meant to be SAD. 

Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is a form of seasonal depression triggered by the change in seasons that occurs primarily in winter. The shorter the days are, the more you might be prone to this phenomenon. I felt massive relief in knowing that there was a reason I felt not like myself. I wasn’t broken. But then that left me questioning…

Why do some people get SAD? I found that experts aren’t certain, but some think that seasonal changes disrupt the circadian rhythm — the 24-hour clock that regulates how we function during sleeping and waking hours, causing us to feel energized and alert sometimes and drowsy at other times.

Yet, another theory is that the changing seasons disrupt hormones such as serotonin and melatonin. These hormones regulate your sleep, mood, and feelings of well-being. It also turns out that women and young people are more likely to experience SAD, as are those who live farther away from the equator. People with a family history or diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder are also more susceptible.

What does SAD look like? According to valleyrecovery.com, common symptoms include:

  • Feelings of extreme hopelessness, depression, sadness
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Withdrawing from social activities and/or hobbies
  • Inability to tolerate stress
  • Difficulty focusing or procrastination
  • Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates

The light started to turn on and I quickly realized two things:

  1. SAD can be treated and managed.
  2. SAD needs to be treated and managed — all forms of depression limit people’s ability to live their lives to the fullest, to enjoy their families, and to function well at work.

Here are 8 things you can do to start releasing SAD’s grip on you:

 1. Tidy Up Your Nutrition

Nutrition is the first place to look. Yes, there are specific foods and nutrients that will help you feel better, but I think the real power is in looking at what you are already taking in. Keeping your blood sugar balanced is key to stable mood and hormone balancing. Limit the amount of sugar that you consume because sugar is directly linked to brain health. A sugar high may have you feeling good momentarily, but will knock your blood sugar out of whack. Once the sugar high wears out, your blood sugar will drop and increase lethargic feelings and irritability. 

You also want to look at the amount of processed foods and gluten that you have in your diet. Eliminating gluten from your diet can heal your gut health, balance your blood sugar, clear up brain fog, and balance your hormones. 

Eat consistent meals to keep your body fueled and and your energy high. Not eating consistently can cause dips in your blood sugar and you might notice higher levels of feeling “hangry.”

2. Listen To Music That Makes You Feel Good

One of the most immediate ways to alter your mood is to listen to music. You can probably remember a time you put on a song to elevate your mood or to even trigger sadness. Music therapy has been used as a medicinal alternative for a wide range of health problems from autism to healing from a surgery. Remember the power of music — it can increase sadness so choose music that is lighter and not tied to painful memories.

3. Get More Vitamin D 

Vitamin D has many health benefits. It is also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” because your body produces it when your skin is exposed to UV light. Unfortunately, you may not be able to head outdoors once the temperature drops, which greatly decreases your daily dose of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to SAD in research reported in 2014 in the journal Medical Hypotheses. Adding in a supplemental vitamin D may be helpful to release the depression.

4. Keep A Gratitude Journal (Or, Any Journal) 

Writing down your thoughts can have a positive effect on your mood because it can help to get your negative feelings out of your system. What is even more powerful for depression is keeping a gratitude journal to help you see what is good and bright in your life. 

Having trouble knowing where to start in your journaling journey? Click here to get you started.

5. Stick To A Schedule

Sleeping at night can really feel like a chore with those dealing with SAD. And if you can’t sleep at night, getting up in the morning may be even harder. Maintaining a regular schedule improves sleep, which can help alleviate symptoms of SAD.

Keeping a regular schedule will also expose you to light at consistent and predictable times. And eating at regular intervals can help you watch your diet and not overeat. Many people who live with SAD find they gain weight in the winter because of this, especially if you are prone to emotional eating.

6. Add Aromatherapy 

If you like essential oils and smelly stuff, then you are in luck — Aromatherapy may also help those with seasonal disorder. Essential oils can influence the area of the brain that’s responsible for controlling moods and the body’s internal clock that influences sleep and appetite. 

You can simply add a few drops of essential oils to your bath at night to help you relax or plug your diffuser in and left the smell waft through the air. Click here to read more ways you can use specific oils for symptoms of SAD. 

7. Let The Sunshine In

Getting outside as much as you can during the day and take advantage of what sunlight there is can dramatically improve SAD or any kind of depression. If you live where it’s cold, be sure to bundle up, but take a stroll around the block at noon or soon after — that’s when the sun is brightest.

Also, when you’re indoors, keep your blinds open to let as much natural light in as you can. You want to be in bright environments whenever possible to stimulate the brain.

8. Use A Light Therapy Box

Light Therapy Boxes give off light that mimics sunshine and can help in the recovery from SAD. The light from the therapy boxes is significantly brighter than that of regular light bulbs, and it’s provided in different wavelengths.

Try sitting in front of a light box for about 30 minutes a day. This will stimulate your body’s circadian rhythms and suppress its natural release of melatonin. Research shows that most people find light therapy to be most effective if used when they first get up in the morning. 

Seasonal Affect Disorder does not have to be something that you suffer with. You can take back control of your life. Remember, exercise and socialization and having something to look forward to are just as important as any of these other tips above. But if you feel like you do those things and you are still feeling stuck, give the tips above a try and see how you can begin lifting the heavy cloud of winter blues!

Want more?

Join my Patreon and become part of my garden of wild flowers! Not only will you be part of the exclusive content that I ONLY share with my Patreon members, but you will also be helping a community of holistic health like-minded people push forward!

And, if you are not getting my weekly emails…

Instagram3

I love inspiration through story-telling! If you liked this article, then you will love my other blogs.

Click here to get my Free 10-day body reset detox guide. You will become part of my tribe and get weekly blogs delivered straight to your inbox (along with a free gift and other insider tips that only my tribe will get)!