B Well, B Fit, B Happy

The 3 B's – by Sheri Myers

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The 3 B’s…

We all have our must-haves in life; what we feel we need to feel comfortable and safe.  We look to tangible items quite often to find that security.  Favorite foods or sweaters, pillows, teddy bears and the likes can invoke pleasant feelings.  Some of us rely on conditions, situations or other people. But regardless of what each person’s must-haves are, what we’re all really seeking is happiness and contentment in some form or another.

Wikipedia defines happiness as “a fuzzy concept and can mean many different things to many people. Part of the challenge of a science of happiness is to identify different concepts of happiness, and where applicable, split them into their components.”

Personally, I think it becomes a counter-productive process to over analyze what can be specifically considered happiness as it really is a subjective term.  So for myself, I created the 3 B’s.  Be well, be fit, be happy.  You can look at this as an equation or as 3 complimentary states of being.  But for me the 3 B’s travel as a pack.

First off, I should explain who I am and why I even feel I get an opinion on such an important topic.  My name is Sheri Myers. For the past 10 years, I have been the owner and master trainer of Fōkus Pilates Studio and Boutique in Laguna Beach, CA as well as a designer of women’s activewear and a line of hand made jewelry and accessories.  At Fōkus, I have not only taught hundreds of Pilates enthusiasts but have also had the honor of certifying a good number of men and women to teach Pilates to others.  In addition, I have created a retail and organic skin care boutique and organic airbrush tanning studio. Over the years I have hosted various professional advisors such as Physical Therapists, Structural Integration Specialists, Nutritionists, Holistic Healers  and Chiropractors.  These professionals have either been in as clients, co-workers or as guests providing services to myself or my clients.  Regardless of their roll, I have taken the opportunity to learn from each and every one of them so that I can enrich not only the experience my clients have at my studio but also so that I may enrich my own life and journey.

My clientele over the past decade has included professional athletes, moms, teens, post injury and surgery rehab cases and beings of all types with one common goal: to feel well… Alongside the obvious physical results of Pilates come the emotional and physiological results. Pilates empowers and shapes the core, lengthens and strengthens all muscles in the body and can improve posture and the execution of movement.  The longer, stronger body leads to an improved physical appearance which can lead to a more confident emotional state. All of this helps to increase body awareness and balance which can lead to the desire for a healthier lifestyle in general. All of these self-caused improvements create a sense of control over one’s general health which then can lead to mental strength and a sense of calm. Quite a chain of reaction!

In my experience working with the fabulously vast array of people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, I found that while each person may have different specific goals, they all want to feel good.  To feel good we must be well from the inside so that our body operates optimally.  To feel good we must be fit to some degree so that the outside of our body operates optimally.  To feel good, we must feel happiness.  I take a significant interest in acquiring all of the above, not just for myself but also for my clients and other people in my life.

This blog site is a step in furthering this endeavor.  I hope to share with my readers all the interesting, wonderful, helpful and sometimes disturbing facts about wellness, fitness and happiness that I learn from my research.  You, the reader, may benefit from the information or maybe able to teach me something I can benefit from.  Either way, my plan with this site is to reach the global community that shares my same goals: to Be Well, Be Fit, Be Happy…

Enjoy…

Fatigue
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Recovering Adrenal Fatigue

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is one of those conditions that bears similar symptoms to fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, ‘burnout’ and even Lyme disease. While it is much different from these conditions, it is nonetheless just as serious in nature.

The adrenal glands are two small glands that are part of the endocrine system. The adrenals sit on top of the kidneys and release hormones in response to stress. They also help to manufacture hormones (DHEA and cortisol), regulate blood sugar and the body’s mineral supply, help to produce and maintain body energy levels in conjunction with the thyroid, and produce stress-monitoring hormones.

Two of the adrenals main hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are responsible for the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. Adrenaline takes its name from the adrenals (surprise!) and deals primarily with short-term stress whereas cortisol is produced as a result of both acute and long-term stress.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t fatigue his adrenal glands because they only needed a burst of stress hormones during the occasional flight-or-fight situation. When we face chronic stress, however, it means that our adrenal glands fire constantly. This depletes the adrenal glands and compromises their ability to perform their tasks, like the controlled secretion of corticosteroid hormones. This leads to chronic fatigue, an impaired immune system, inflammation, and the other symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

Whether prolonged stress is the result of emotional, environmental or physical causes, it is disastrous for the adrenals. Overworked adrenals will eventually crash and burn, leading to adrenal exhaustion or ‘burnout’, when the body is unable to maintain adequate adrenal hormone production. What results are symptoms of adrenal fatigue; people who experience this condition may have only a few or all of these symptoms.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue

Do many of these symptoms describe you? Then adopting an adrenal recovery diet and lifestyle is a key step in reaching your optimal health.

  • Low energy through the day and trouble getting out of bed
  • Low thyroid function (hypothyroid)
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Low or no libido
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizzy when standing up
  • Cravings for salt and sugar
  • Anxiety, mental exhaustion, and/or depression
  • Reduced immunity (you get every cold that goes around)

Why it is important to address adrenal fatigue?

  • Without good adrenal function, the body can’t properly regulate blood sugar. This perpetuates inflammation and weight issues.
  • Without healthy adrenals, the thyroid takes a big hit. It is impossible to fix hypothyroidism without also correcting adrenal fatigue.
  • Women, it’s vitally important to fix your adrenal fatigue before menopause. Healthy adrenal function can prevent most – if not all – of the unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause.
  • Once adrenal fatigue corrected, you’ll feel like you have your mojo back. You will be able to wake up with energy and motivation, you’ll have your libido back and you’ll have the energy to get through your day.

Natural Adrenal Fatigue Recovery

Three important factors work together to address adrenal fatigue: diet, supplements, and lifestyle. Of all three, the most important – and challenging – is lifestyle. Diet and supplements certainly improve adrenal fatigue, but you must make the lifestyle changes.

Recovery Diet

Start Primal. Immediately begin a Primal/Paleo diet. This eliminates grains, legumes, refined sugar and vegetable oils – all foods that stress the adrenals and increase inflammation. While it is possible, but difficult, to address adrenal fatigue on a vegetarian diet, it is impossible to reach optimal adrenal health on a vegan diet.

Breakfast done right. Enjoy breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up to help balance cortisol levels. A high protein breakfast will help to stabilize blood sugar throughout the day.  Also, I recommend consuming a very low-carb breakfast (eggs, sausage and veggies, for example). Carbs can create drowsiness due to insulin release, and carb-digesting enzymes also peak in the evening. So enjoy your sweet potato with dinner, rather than breakfast.

Salt! Adrenal fatigue depletes salt levels in the body because it reduces aldosterone, the salt-monitoring hormone. Since adequate sodium in the blood is essential for healthy blood pressure, we can experience dizziness when aldosterone levels drop. Most people with adrenal fatigue crave salt. Liberally salt all your foods and add a pinch of salt to any fresh pressed juice or water you drink. Use only raw, unrefined sea salt, not processed table salt.

Eat regularly. Don’t skip a meal with adrenal fatigue. This is not the time to practice intermittent fasting! Your body is unable to properly monitor salt and glucose levels in your blood, so you must provide those factors frequently. Meals should focus on vegetables, healthy fats and quality animal protein. Carbohydrates should come from fresh fruits, root veggies, and starchy fruits/veggies like plantains. Fruit juices, refined sugars and grains should be avoided because they wreck havoc on your blood sugar.

Hydration. Essential for optimal health but don’t over do it here. I hear so often “I drink a gallon of water a day.” Without proper electrolytes this can actually cause more harm than good when trying to recover from adrenal fatigue. Aim for half your bodyweight in ounces of H20 per day. I recommend adding electrolytes to your water and sipping bone broth for hydration. Drink when you’re thirsty and avoid ALL diuretics.   

Enjoy Lots of Good FatsEnjoy lots of good fats. Emphasize sources of healthy saturated fats from grass-fed butter and ghee, coconut oil, pastured egg yolks, and grassfed meats. Monounsaturated fats from avocado and unadulterated olive oil can also be enjoyed. Strictly limit nuts and seeds, because the fatty acid profile and anti-nutrients impair thyroid function and digestion. Avoid all plant oils, including canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, and hemp oil. Do not do low-fat… it will utterly undermine your adrenal fatigue recovery.

Say no to low carb. Expert Chris Kresser recommends a moderate carbohydrate diet for adrenal fatigue. He suggests aiming for about 20% of calories from carbohydrates. Favor fresh fruits and starchy vegetables for carb intake. A low carb diet exacerbates adrenal fatigue. During my short stint on a low carb diet (yes, I did try it before I knew better!) my adrenal fatigue symptoms drastically intensified.

No caffeine or alcohol. No no and no. You want to get better, right? Some caffeine is fine for healthy people, but not while you are in a period of recovery.

Lifestyle Changes

Sleep. Just sleep. More often than not, those who have adrenal fatigue have pushed sleep down low on their list of priorities. It’s time to move sleep to a number one priority. Be in bed, ready to sleep, by10pm (or earlier) each night for at least one month. It’s just one month, you can do it! After the month, depending on the severity of your adrenal fatigue, you may be able to have a more lenient bedtime but for best results, stick to a 10 bedtime. Allocate at least half an hour each day to simply rest. One of my favorite “constructive rest” practices is doing gentle stretching while listening to an audiobook. Visualization exercises and guided relaxation audios aid recuperation.

Stop intense exercise for a month. Avoid cardio and all other forms of strenuous exercise for 30 days. This is very important, because intense exercise wreaks havoc on exhausted adrenals by spiking cortisol. Short, slow walks (30 minutes) in nature are beneficial, and strength training may be incorporated slowly. Think gentle Pilates or Yoga.

Recovery Supplements

Adrenal glandular. Glandular treatment, the ingestion of small amounts of animal glands, is a traditional treatment practiced by ancient healers from across the globe. When it comes to glandulars, less is usually better and quality counts. I recommend one by Biotics called Cytozyme AD.

Herbal adrenal support.  There are dozens on the market and I have tried many, I highly recommendGaia Herbal Adrenal Health.

Vitamin C. Experts widely recommend vitamin C for adrenal fatigue recovery. Ascorbic acid, the popular choice for vitamin C supplementation, is a synthetic compound usually made from GMO corn. It also kills the good bacteria in our digestive tract, so it is not a good option for the long term. I use plant-sourced vitamin C, camu camu capsules or powder added to smoothies.

Pastured Beef, Chicken or Pork Liver – Gram for gram, pasture-raised liver is the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It provides true vitamin A, an essential nutrient for adrenal fatigue recovery and hormone balance in general. (Vegetables do not provide the body with useable vitamin A). Eat sautéed liver a few times per week or shave a bit in your smoothies (you won’t know it’s there I promise). You can also purchase dessicated liver capsules, look for a grass-fed source.

I cannot stress this enough: adrenal fatigue is a serious condition, although it can often go unaddressed and is not widely recognized by Western medicine. In our society, ‘burning the candle at both ends’ and pushing ourselves beyond our means is, unfortunately, a cultural norm. Progress is in opposition to rest and relaxation, and those who take time to relax are more often than not viewed as lazy or self-indulgent.

Relaxing in a lounge chairIf you or someone you know is experiencing adrenal fatigue, give them or yourself the permission to rest, heal, and be. Things will improve with time and patience, and taking the proper steps necessary to good health, wellness, and balance. Remember that we are all bio-individuals and this post will not provide you with all the answers to your unique health situation. I recommend seeking a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Naturopath or Functional Doctor to get on a path to healing.

For further reading, I recommend:
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Syndrome by Dr. James L. Wilson

Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser

Written by:

Jody Reis, (Student) Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

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The ABC’s of Staying Healthy During the Cold/Flu Season

We always know it’s coming.  That dreaded time somewhere between summer’s end and the holidays where cooties have their way with us.  Kid’s are back in school and sharing everything from high fives to water fountains. Climate changes cause temperature fluxes in homes and workplaces.  Basically people just get sick!  So other than sequestering yourself in a room until after the cold and flu season ends, how can you give those pesky germs a run for their money?  Well, how about letting your diet help?  

Vitamin and herbal supplements have become the quick and dirty way to feed your body necessary nutrients.  Sure it’s better than nothing at all and can be a great addition to a healthy diet, but getting the goods straight from the source is always best.  For a body to maintain a healthy immune system, there are six nutrient powerhouses that should be included in a daily diet: Vitamin A, B, C, D, E, and Zinc.  Several foods contain minimal or substantial amounts of each of these but there are certain staple (and yummy) natural foods that are a great source of each of these nutrients.  

  • Vitamin A helps regulate and support the healthy development of immune cells.  Papaya, sweet potatoes, and carrots are a few sources of this vitamin.
  • B Vitamins are essential for energy production and stress tolerance and resilience which are vital to a healthy immune system. The B’s can be found in several foods such as squash, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, tuna, garlic, turkey and salmon.
  • Vitamin C effects various immune functions because it enhances white blood cell function and activity which increases interferon levels, antibody responses, antibody levels and secretion of thymic hormones.  Key sources of C include papaya, kiwi, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, mango, pineapple, berries, watermelon red and green bell peppers, spinach and brussels sprouts.
  • Vitamin D binds to cell receptors all over the body which causes changes in cellular function.  These receptors can regulate genes that influence many physiological functions.  In addition to a healthy and monitored dose of sunshine from which the body produces D, salmon, tuna and egg yolks are great ways to get more.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant which can prevent or slow cell damage.  Studies show that E can be especially useful when the immune system is under attack. E can be can be found in raw nuts and seeds and the oils that they produce.  Almonds and Brazil nuts are especially beneficial.
  • Zinc is a mineral which the immune system requires to function properly.  Oysters are an excellent source of zinc as is poultry, red meat, beans, whole grains and nuts.

In addition to the ABC’s, there are a number of other power foods that help boost T-cells (which fight viruses in our bloodstream).  Garlic, Shiitake Mushrooms, some shell fish, lamb, and brown rice are a few.  

During the cold and flu season, being proactive with your health is easy.  Just add some or all of these delicious power foods to your diet.  Chances are, they’re already a part of your routine. Just remember to prepare them with a conscience so you don’t over cook or saturate the good stuff out.  Be well, be fit, be happy and Bon Apétit!!!

Fokus Pilates
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Taking it on the Road

We all have the best intentions with regard to our fitness programs. We try to be consistent and focused and avoid long breaks or disruptions in our routines. But alas, life happens. Work, travel, illness, kids, household responsibilities can prevent us from making it to that scheduled fitness class or gym session.

For a recreational exerciser — someone who works out two to three times a week – it takes roughly two to four weeks of inactivity for there to be a notable change in your conditioning. The more serious athlete, such as a marathon runner, may feel this decline more acutely, but losing your fitness bookmark happens in proportion to how much effort you put into getting in shape in the first place.

I find that for myself and some of my clients, it’s more of a mental distraction or disappointment that occurs when a routine gets temporarily derailed. In my opinion, that’s the most serious type of disappointment! We come down on ourselves for taking a step back in our progress and that can set us back even further.

For the past decade I’ve had several clients that maintain a regular schedule with me in my studio but have occasional obligations that require a break in their routine. In an effort to prevent set backs in the results we’ve achieved in the studio, I’ve found myself writing down a Pilates routine for them to take on the road or even filming a short video or series of photos for them on their ipad or smartphone. I’ll send them on their way with that mobile knowledge and an exercise band and hope for the best! What I find most pertinent about taking your fitness program on the road is that we tend to be more conscious about what we’re eating and drinking as well. Almost as if there’s a little fitness angel sitting on one shoulder wagging a finger at the devil on the other.

With all this being said, I’m excited to introduce “Pilates En Route” very soon. A website designed to keep the Pilates enthusiast on track by bringing the studio to the home, hotel room, or wherever they may be. Stay tuned!!!

Keep Calm and Pilates on!!!

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