Night Night

Many people do not understand the importance of sleep and the effect it has on our bodies.  Our body uses sleep to repair itself.  When we sleep our cells grow and regenerate, it’s basically the best anti-aging treatment around.  There are a lot of benefits to getting a good night’s sleep!

  1. Better overall health – studies have found a link between insufficient sleep and some serious health problems, including heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes and obesity.  In most cases the health risks from loss of sleep happen over a period of years, however there are studies that show young, healthy adults will have glucose levels considered pre-diabetic after only 4 days of insufficient sleep.
  2. Better sex – in a poll conducted by The National Sleep Foundation, 26% of people say their sex life is affected by lack of sleep.  There is a link between men with insufficient sleep and low testosterone.  Not to mention, when individuals are tired from lack of sleep, their sex life will suffer.
  3. Lower risk of injury – The Institute of Medicine estimates 1 out of every 5 accidents is a result of drowsy driving.  You’re also more likely to trip or fall when your overtired or cut yourself while chopping vegetables, etc….
  4. Emotional regulation – not getting enough sleep affects the regulation of your mood.  While sleep doesn’t guarantee a gleeful mood, people tend to be less cranky when they get a good night’s sleep.
  5. WEIGHT CONTROL – there are several factors here.  When people are overtired they are less likely to exercise.  There is also a hormone called “Leptin”, leptin plays a key role in making you feel full.  When we don’t get enough sleep, leptin levels drop, people tend to crave high fat and high calorie foods in an effort to get more energy.
  6. Clear head – people who lack sleep often feel like they’re in a fog or feel fuzzy.  Sleep loss impairs cognition, attention and decision-making skills.
  7. Better memory – studies show that when we sleep our brains process memories from the day.

Sleeplessness in America - The hazards of being tired:

Trouble sleeping?  I’ve included a link for some yoga poses that will help you relax and sleep better.  Night Night!

Walk it off

In last night’s post I shared that I lost my sister to heart disease at a very young age.  Walking is one of many things we can do to prevent heart disease as well as other illnesses and disease.

Walking is a weight bearing exercise, this means it helps build strong bones!  The impact of hitting the ground or treadmill helps strengthen the legs and the spine – obviously this helps keep up mobile and independent.

Walking also helps build a strong cardiovascular system and lowers blood pressure.  It improves your mood, coordination and balance.

It is proven that people who maintain a regular walking routine have a smaller waistline than those who do not.  Walking helps trim your waistline specifically, and helps reduce visceral fat.  Visceral fat is especially dangerous as it is the fat that is found in the belly, surrounding the organs.  This fat suffocates the organs and makes it difficult for them to function.  Your waist should be no bigger than half of your height, for example, a 5′ 4″ woman should have a waist of 32″ or less.  For every inch larger than half your height, you shave months off of your life expectancy.

Check out this walking program to get you started.  Get yourself some new kicks and hit the road or trail!

Let’s get to the heart of it

In my introductory post I mentioned that I had a sister who passed away, her name was Amy.  Amy died exactly 2 weeks after her 39th birthday – that’s right, she was only 39 yrs old.  She was of average height and weight, she led an active, busy lifestyle and she  occasionally smoked.

One morning her husband and daughters found her unresponsive, she would never really regain consciousness and passed away before we could make the drive from St Louis to Dayton.

It was a crazy, surreal time – no one understood what happened, much less believed she was gone.  An autopsy revealed she died of heart disease.  HEART DISEASE?  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  I sent the report to my general practitioner, he explained it was the kind of heart disease you inherit, it was in her genes.

Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in both men and women.  Heart disease can be caused by genetics, but there are many lifestyle habits that can cause it as well.  I believe it is our responsibility to control the things we can, these are known as “modifiable risks”.

Modifiable Risks

1.Quit smoking!  Smoking is a leading cause of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.  Smoking causes a fatty substance called Plaque to build up in the arteries, eventually causing arteries to harden.  Smoking also reduces good cholesterol and raises blood pressure, which causes stress on the arteries.

2. Diet & nutrition. Avoid or limit foods that worsen heart disease, these foods include foods high in sugar or salt, alcoholic beverages and foods partially hydrogenated with vegetable oil.  A diet high in raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains and omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish) can help prevent heart disease.  A Mediterranean diet is known to reduce the occurrence of heart disease.

3. Exercise and weight management.  These are vital as they lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease.  It is recommended that you get 30 minutes of exercise every day or 30-60 minutes most days of the week.  The key is to stay active, this includes housework, walking your dog, yard work, etc…  By keeping a healthy weight you’ll lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of other complications.

4. Lower blood pressure.  Hypertension increases stress on your cardiovascular system.  You can lower your blood pressure through diet and exercise, weight management and avoiding stress and smoking.  One of the best ways is to limit salt and alcohol intake.

5. Manage stress.  Chronic stress can cause the heart to work harder.  Physical activity and exercise are known to reduce stress.  Slowing down and using breathing techniques as used in yoga are also helpful.  Try to spend time with family and friends who live a healthy lifestyle and make sure you get enough sleep.

6. FLOSS!  This is surprising to some, but flossing your teeth daily is helpful in reducing heart disease.  Flossing prevents inflammation from gum disease or periodontal disease.  If the gums begin to pull away from the teeth, bacteria can enter the body through the gums, get into the blood stream and cause inflammation throughout the body, including the heart.

Heart disease can happen to anyone at any time, do you best to keep your heart healthy and strong.  You owe it to yourself and your family!

Weights & Measures

Let’s discuss weight training vs cardio.  Both forms of exercise are necessary for good health, but depending on your goals, one could be better than another.

If you’re looking to strengthen you heart and respiratory system, cardio is it for you!  If you’re looking to lose weight, build strong bones and muscles, the weights have it!  It’s true, women carry more body fat than men.  There are a couple of reasons for this 1. women are built this way 2. women do not weight train like men.

It is very important to keep your heart and lungs in tip top condition – so don’t skip the cardio.  But don’t stop there. it is also important to keep your body fat at a healthy percentage and to keep bones and muscles strong.  You see, cardio will burn muscle and fat, while weight training burns fat and builds muscle.  When you have strong muscles you burn fat, even when you’re laying on the couch!  Winning!

You can put two people who weigh 150 lbs side by side and they can look very different.  Don’t listen to people who say muscle weighs more than fat, a pound is a pound whether it’s fat, muscle or flour.  However, there is a difference, muscle is more dense (compact) than fat, so the 150 lb woman who lifts weights can wear clothing several sizes smaller than the woman next to her, who doesn’t.  Remember, it’s not about the scale or the size of your jeans, it’s about being strong and healthy.

Weight lifting is especially important as we age.  Weight bearing exercises help prevent osteoporosis and keep up strong and mobile.  When we get older, doing what we once considered an easy task, becomes much more difficult.  During the natural aging process, our muscles start to shrink and atrophy, weight training helps slow this process.  Many aging people lose their independence due to their inability to complete daily activities without the risk of injury – weight training can help you maintain that independence and avoid assisted care facilities or depending on family members.

Oh and Ladies, don’t worry, weight training does NOT make you bulky!  Eating too much makes you bulky.  Weights will make you tone, lean and your clothes will fit better.  I encourage everyone to kick it up a notch, you’ll love how you look & feel!

Check out this short article that lists the benefits of weight training.




Apples, Pears, Bananas, Oh My!

Bodies, let’s talk about them.  We were blessed with these amazing vessels that hold all of the things that allow us to function better than any man made machine.  So why do so many people have such dislike for them?

The media and Hollywood have been blamed for body issues, especially in women, as long as I can remember.  I’m not really into blaming others for our own insecurities, we’re adults, own your feelings.  If you’re comparing yourself to an image of someone who is paid to look a certain way, and who you know has had some photo-shopping, that’s on you.

I think most people wish they had a particular body type or looked a certain way, that’s OK, it’s not OK to hate the body you have.  We’re all shaped differently, just as we all have different facial features, different opinions, different personalities, these are the things that make us wonderful and unique.  It would make for a pretty boring world if we were all cut from the same mold.  The fact is, we all are genetically predisposed to having a certain “shape”. You can probably look at family members and have a pretty good idea of what that shape is – although this is not always true, most of the time we are similar in shape to at least one family members.  It’s called genetics and you can’t change it.

What you can change is your attitude and how you feel about and treat you body.  If you feed your body soda, cheetos and pizza on a regular basis and live a sedentary life, you can expect to have excess body fat. If you feed that same body nutritious, whole foods and exercise regularly, your body will fall into a healthy size and shape – for YOU!  This doesn’t always look the same for everyone.  I know people who would be referred to as “skinny-fat”, they look skinny/thin on the outside but on the inside their bodies are not functioning optimally and they do not have strong bones and muscles.  On the other hand there are a lot of people who are much larger on the outside, but are strong and healthy.  It’s co cliche, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Think about how your body looks on the inside, not about a thigh gap or a particular size.  Control the things you can control and let the chips fall where they may.  Eat nutritious, whole foods, exercise for a strong heart and body, then let nature take it’s course.  Don’t  worry about looking like someone else or having whatever body type is “in” at the moment, celebrate a healthy, strong body.  Do your best to take care of the vessel you’ve been given and move on, there is so much more to life than the number on the scale!

Drink up!

One of the best things you can do for your body is to stay hydrated.  A person can survive up to 3 weeks without food, but will perish after 3 days without water.  If you follow me for any length of time, you’ll soon learn I preach “hydration”.

We all wake up dehydrated, start your day by giving your body what it needs, the rest of the day will fall into place.  Try starting you day with a bottle or glass of water, at least 8 oz.  Drink your water before any other sugary or caffeinated drinks and before eating.  Think about it, you’ve gone all night without fluids – for most, that is 7-9 hours, you’re dehydrated!

Hydration also helps you identify TRUE hunger signals.  Did you know, most of the time when we THINK we are hungry, we’re really just dehydrated?  Not sure if your body needs fluids or food?  Drink a bottle of water, wait 20 minutes, do you still feel hungry?  If so, feed that belly!  Most of the time you will find the water has satisfied the urge to eat.  If you eat every time you think you’re hungry, you could be consuming hundreds of unnecessary calories, when all you needed was a bottle of water.

How much is enough?  Forget the one size fits all, 8, 8 oz glasses per day.  Try to consume between .5-1 oz of water per every pound.  So, if you weigh 150 lbs, aim for 75-150 oz of water per day.  If you live in a hot climate or exercise a lot, stay on the higher end of that range.  If you live in a cooler climate and are sedentary the lower end will work for you.

Staying well hydrated has so many health benefits, unfortunately this is over looked by many.  Staying hydrated revs up our cellular processes and metabolism, it also promotes good kidney and digestive functions.  These are all things we can’t see, but there are many you can see – check out the info-graphic below.  Raise your bottles and drink to good health – cheers!


YourBodyWithoutWater.png, YourBodyWithoutWater-850x1313


Find your balance

Welcome to Stay Balanced Yoga’s blog!  I have so much to share and no idea where to start –  I guess it’s best to start from the beginning.

The beginning. I’m Jennifer, I’ve been a fitness and health enthusiast for most of my life.  I wanted to be a registered dietitian when I was younger, however I followed my Father’s advice and pursued a business degree.  I graduated from college and found a full time, big girl job at 22 years old.  I had great benefits and could pay the rent, not bad for a young, single girl.  I kept telling myself, next year I will make a shift and pursue career in the healthcare field.  Like everyone else, I had ups and downs, a failed marriage, infertility, the death of a sister and my parents – then one day, I was celebrating my 15 year work anniversary, where had the time gone?  I had lived a healthy life, obtained group exercise certifications, taught fitness classes for the free gym memberships, but never made the “shift” I promised myself I would.

The “shift”.  During the most difficult times of my life I turned to Yoga.  You see, I am not your typical “yogi”,  I am a very “type A’, organized, regimented, everything has a place, everything needs to be in order, stay on schedule type of girl.  I don’t think anyone would have pegged me as a “yogi”, including me, but I really believe it saved me.  When I practiced Yoga it was the only time when my brain would settle down, it was the only time when I felt peace, the only time when I felt like I would be OK.  I was hooked.  I began to expand my wellness knowledge to include a deeper understanding of Yoga and added “Yoga Instructor” to my resume.  Then, I met and married my true soulmate, he couldn’t have been more supportive of me and my desire to help others live longer, healthier lives.

It’s happening!  My husband built me a beautiful yoga studio and “Stay Balanced Yoga” was born.  I continue to deepen my practice and teach several yoga classes a week as well as private and duet sessions.  I teach group fitness classes at two local fitness centers and I obtained my weight management certification from The American Council on Exercise and added a lifestyle program called “Walk the Walk” to my business.

While I still go to the office Monday through Friday, when I come home I’m working on a business I love.  I’ve found my balance and I can help you find yours!

Check in with me daily for articles and information on diet, exercise, health and well-being.  I’ve waited to so long to share what I know, what I’ve studied, what I’ve practiced – here I go, come along for the ride!