Dream Interpretation: How to Interpret Your Dreams for Emotional and Spiritual Growth

Your dreams are a direct link to your subconscious. They contain remnants of your waking life mixed in with unresolved emotional and psychological conflict. If you’ve always experienced them as vivid or intense, or if they’ve recently become that way, there may be something in your life that warrants closer examination. Dream interpretation is a good way to uncover those issues. Here’s how you can interpret your dreams for emotional and spiritual growth.

Review Your Dream

The biggest challenge with dream interpretation is actually recalling what you dreamed about. The first step is to practice reviewing it. If it seems a bit fuzzy, think about how you felt during the dream and when you woke up. Even if you remember just one thing. Focus on that, then branch out from there. Good habits to develop while you’re remembering and reviewing the dream are:

  • Write it down. The easiest way to forget a dream is to go right back to sleep after having it. Instead, take out your laptop or a notebook and write record it.
  • Use first person and present tense, as if you are experiencing the dream right now. And be descriptive. For example, instead of writing, “A monster chased me”  try “There is a monster chasing me. I am running as fast as I can because I am terrified that it will kill me.” Include colors, thoughts, feelings, conversations, or anything else you can recall.

Notice What Stands Out the Most

Are there portions of your dream that stick out to you more than others? Chances are good that these pieces point to one of two things:

  1. Your current state of being.
  2. Issues you need to deal with most urgently. 

For example, in one recurring dream from my childhood, am sitting in the back seat of my family’s Ford Aerostar minivan when my mother drives it off the side of a local bridge into the river. What is worst than my family drowning is the fact that, no matter how hard I try, I can’t free my little sister or baby cousins from the seat-belts that hold them down. I am devastated as I watch them drown. Yet, in another dream, I watch carefully as a menacing murderer walks through a crowded entertainment hall. And I am not afraid. I am confident and calm.

As you see, I’ve underlined and put in bold some of the things that stood out to me the most.

Interpret Your Dream

There’s a lot to look for when interpreting a dream, but here is a quick guide to help you along. I’ll use the above dreams to help illustrate them.

Feelings

Feelings and emotions either point to your current state of being or a state you experienced at another point in your life. They may even be amplified in your dream state. So, the devastation I mention in the dream where my family is drowning is akin to the disappointment I feel in some portion of my waking life. The confidence and calm in the second dream are self-explanatory. Feelings are the simplest part of dream interpretation, as long as you can pinpoint where they are coming from.

People

I’m of the line of thought that other people in our dreams represent different aspects of ourselves. So, although my mom, my siblings, and a murder appear to be present, they are actually me. I drive the car off the bridge. I am stuck in my seat-belt and noone can save me. I am lurking around the crowded halls looking for someone to kill. When you start looking at it this way, you stop seeing yourself as the victim of intense dreams and you start seeing yourself as an inhabitant of them. 

Actions & Place

Actions and Places in dreams can represent our sense of pace and control. Where you are located and what you are doing saying a lot about the way you live your life on a daily basis, whether consciously or unconsciously. For example, in the first dream, I am sitting in the back seat. My mother is driving. I (as my siblings) am also stuck beneath the seat-belt while drowning. Good questions to ask myself are: 

  • Where in my life do I allow myself to sit in the backseat while someone else is driving?
  • What is going on in my life to contribute to the feeling that I am drowning?

The of the actions and the place as metaphors for what is going on in your life. In my dream, sitting in the back seat points to complacency and inaction while drowning points to overwhelm. What metaphors can you pick out from your dream?

Objects & Symbols

To keep it simple, objects and symbols in your dreams are best interpreted by what you personally and the culture at large associate them with. For example, water often represents change or transformation. A vehicle is a method of transportation or transition. So, in my dream above, I was driven into the water.

Of course, as they say, the devil is in the details. The car was my dad’s aerostar minivan, which I loved with a passion. And I was drowning in the water. Together with the actions, the place, the people, and the feelings, the symbols provide the overarching theme of your dreamworld. Common symbols include:

  • (Giving Birth to) A Baby
  • (Losing) Teeth
  • (Driving or Running down) Winding roads
  • (Climbing, Falling or Flying off) A tall building or steep cliff

The list of symbols goes on and on. It’s impossible to cover them all in one blog, but there are many sites you can go to that have more information, such as Dream Doctor or Dream Moods.

When in doubt, seek out a professional with experience in dream interpretation, such as a therapist with a background in spirituality or a Spiritual Guide. You can also look for group that practices projective dream-work, so you can have your own dreams interpreted and practice interpreting dreams of others.

Happy Dreaming <3

Nadia

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My Life In Fitness: 10 Things My Clients Always Notice About Me and My Body

As a fitness instructor, I am always in the public eye. Standing front and center, our bodies are the precious tools we use to get the job done. So whether we’re at our peak fitness-wise, or in a slump, they notice things us they normally don’t see in themselves and others. So today I’m giving you a glimpse into my life in fitness with a list of 10 things my clients notice about me and my body.

My Shapely Calves

I started dancing ballet when I was two year old and playing basketball when I was five. These are the biggest reasons I can think of for why my calves turned out to be double the size of most women I know and, to put it simply, rock solid! It’s because of this that I earned the nickname “Legs” among my girlfriends’ male relatives. A client once asked me how I did it. Since big calves tend to run in my family, I told her “I was born this way.” I realized how unhelpful this was after the fact ðŸĪĢ

Although my calves have leveled out a bit due to years of yoga, to this day I get compliments by men and women in my classes and on the street!

My Lovely Lats

More than once, I’ve been surprised to find that my fellow trainers asked clients to speak to me about how to build a great back. But I guess I work them quite a bit when prepping for volleyball season. Lat pulls do wonders for setting the shoulder, as well as increasing speed and accuracy during an arm-swing. I think the reason my lats shock people so much is because I layer up so much during the winter time, they never see my muscle. But come spring and summer, it’s time for volleyball shorts and crop tops (am I right?).

PS – If you’re a volleyball player who loves to dominate in season too, check out the epic blog I wrote with a list of strength oriented “Volleyball Exercises” and how to complete them.

My Delts of Steel

Okay, delts of steel is an exaggeration, but my delts are quite nice. With hyper-mobile, broad shoulders and extra long arms, this is the easiest area for me to build muscle with very little effort. I’m sure it helps that I like to practice handstands and other cool tricks. But I’ll have to thanks mom and dad for this one! ðŸ˜‰

My Curly, Kinky hair

Gone are the days that I spend 30-60 minutes flat ironing my hair. Teaching high intensity cardio classes ended that. There’s nothing like getting up early to primp your hair to perfection only to have it drenched in sweat after kickboxing or U-Jam fitness. I went completely natural in 2014, 2 years after I became an instructor, and boy was the response fascinating! More people recognized me at the gym and that actually made them more likely to come talk to me! While the straight look was definitely sexy, the curls are more inviting and fun.

My Patience/Compassion

I learned right from the get-go that I’m not that super bubbly, peppy instructor or the hardcore “get down and give me 20” type of coach. I’m the even-keeled trainer that will focus her attention completely on your needs and goals. If I see more potential, I’ll present you with a challenge. If I see you struggling, I’m happy to slow down and guide you in the areas that will benefit you most. It’s no surprise that yoga is my most fulfilling class to take and teach. With a background in Psychology & Spirituality, I love seeing my clients grow from the inside out âĪ

My Flexibility

Natural flexibility is a gift. There’s no doubt about it. Some areas of my body have it. Some, like my hips, don’t. So, while I can easily pop into a backbend or clasp my hands behind my back, I can’t sit cross-legged without my knees reaching up to my armpits. I’m working on it though! And oddly, I’m further along than most of the people I work with and teach. It’s no secret that many people who work out tend to be inflexible, especially those who strength train! 

“Yoga,” I always tell my clients, “does wonders for that.”

My Firm Behind

To be honest, I don’t think my booty is that out of the ordinary. It’s bubbly on a good day, but not Beyonce or J-Lo level. Then again, I’m Haitian and Puerto Rican, so I grew up in a family of people with particularly impressive rears. So it always shocks me when a client says “I want a butt like yours!” I guess it helps that I love to work on my vertical leap. Of course, the fact that I live in tights means my behind looks firm all the time! Haha.

My Energy

Calming. Nurturing. Inviting. Grounding. These are all words that others have used to describe me, both co-workers and clients! I tend to experience my inner life as being emotionally and psychologically chaotic most of the time, but even on rough days, the comment “Wow. Your energy really put me at ease” seems to be consistent. Not exactly the type of vibe I want to put out when teaching a bootcamp (although sometimes I can’t help myself), but it’s who I am at the core. To be perfectly honest, I’ll take peace over excitement any day. That’s the life of an introvert for ya.

[Where my innies at? Entertain yourself with my blog titled “What I’ve Learned Being an Introvert in an Extroverted Job.”]

My Waistline

The funny thing that happens when you become slim is that people assume you’ve always been that way. Little do they know, having a slim waistline is a relatively new thing for me. Strangely enough, I don’t have to try very hard in order to lose weight these days. So when people tell me “You’re so skinny” or “You have no belly at all,” I’m not sure how to feel. Although, weird is usually the first thing that comes up ðŸ˜…

My sense of humor

Okay, I’m not that funny. But I like to make jokes once in a while despite that. I can be a bit corny at times and elicit a light chuckle. Of course, I’m friends with my clients on Facebook. Most can attest that I’m funnier when writing on my wall than I am in person. My latest posts:

“That moment when you have to admit to yourself that it’s time to get a new tube of toothpaste…” [insert pic of flat tube]

“There’s a cricket in my kitchen. I have no idea where it is. #crazymaking #whereareyou ðŸĪŠ”

Okay, so maybe only I think those things are funny, but if you’re interested in reading more of what I post on Facebook, follow me!

Cheers!

Nadia ðŸ˜˜ 

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Top 3 Dieting Myths and Ways To Fix Them

There is a lot of bad information out there when it comes to dieting. In today’s blog, I’m covering a few common misconceptions and giving you the real scoop.

Myth #1: When It Comes To Calories, Less Is More

Too many people find themselves playing the “how long can I go without eating” game when they start dieting. In fact, calorie restriction is one of the most popular ways that individuals in North America try to lose weight. It’s true that many of us can stand to reduce our portion sizes overall, but too many take it to the extreme.

The truth: You should never consume under 1200 calories a day unless you’re being supervised by a physician or registered dietitian. This is especially important for those who are working out. Eating too little will result in your body becoming malnourished, which can lead to health issues.

The solution: Practice mindful eating to help you become more aware of your eating habits. Click here to read my blog on Simple Tips for Mindful Eating

Myth #2: You Can’t Eat Carbs

When it comes to what most people refer to as “carbs,” the breads, cereals, pastries, etc., many of us lack balance. Either we’re avoiding them entirely or bingeing on them. Strangely enough, avoiding them only furthers the cycle of cravings. 

The truth: You shouldn’t have to feel like anything is off limits, unless you have some sort of allergy or food sensitivity. Grain/Flour-based carbs can be a fulfilling and beneficial part of a balanced nutrition plan. 

The solution: Play it smart, you can indulge in grain/flour-based carbs daily and stay fit too! Click here to read my blog titled “Dieting for Weight Loss: Lose Weight and Eat Carbs Too.”

Myth #3: Fat Is Bad

Do you avoid fat like the plague? Order veggies without the butter or take the low fat yogurt over full? Low fat or no fat items have been all the rage in the past few decades. But did you know that there are very few benefits to completely removing the fat from your favorite food items? In fact, there is a very big secret hidden in the food label that most people don’t think to analyze. If you guessed carbs, you’re right! Low fat and no fat items don’t taste as good as their fat-filled counterparts. The companies that make them often add a ton of sugar to mask the fact that the flavor was removed!

The truth: Eating fat doesn’t translate to fat gain, unless you have a huge surplus in your diet. Dietary fat is actually necessary. It helps your body absorb the nutrients in your food more efficiently. Plus, it keeps you full longer after you’ve eaten.

The solution: Add moderate levels of healthy fats into your diet each day. Enjoy your yogurt full fat or add avocado to that salad to make it creamy and delicious!

Good luck! 🙂

Nadia

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Gluten Free Dieting on a Budget: My #1 Tip

I’ll be the first to tell you that healthy eating isn’t cheap, but it can actually work to your benefit you are eating gluten free. Hit two birds with one stone. Lower your overall spending while staying true to your diet. It may take a bit of effort but it is possible.

Eliminate Baked Goods 

There’s nothing that breaks the bank more than gluten free baked goods: bread, cupcakes, pizza, crackers, etc. etc. These delicious go-to items are the reason that the gluten free industry is booming right now! With most brands, you end up paying more than double the price you would for your average gluten-containing item. They are also the worst possible items to keep in your diet. 

Baked goods are high in sugar and fat, but low in nutritional value. That means, your body gets little to no benefit from eating them. In fact, consuming baked foods are actually proven to have negative consequences on your health, such as lowered immune function, digestive issues, trouble with memory, and increased risk of chronic diseases such as Crohn’s or Diabetes. Instead…

– Eat Simple Starches and Grains

Swap out the baked items for unprocessed staples, such as rice or potatoes. Even corn tortillas can be a satisfying alternative to their flour-filled counterparts. They are also MUCH cheaper and can be bought in bulk for only a few bucks! Bonus: These types of foods process differently in our bodies. They contain less sugar, fat, and sodium than their baked counterparts. So if you’re hoping to lose weight, you’ll likely get better results. 

Pro tip: Make sure to manage your portions. A decent portion size for a woman who works out is 3/4 – 1 full cup of rice or 1- 1/2 cups of potatoes. A man can have 1- 1 and 1/2 cups of rice and 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of potatoes.

If you MUST have your gluten free treats every now and again, choose one to indulge in each month and buy just ONE package. It can be a box of Van’s Waffles, Ancient Grains pizza, Brazi Bites, whatever your heart fancies. But once the package is finished, you’re done for the month. But keep an eye on how you feel in the days after you indulge. If you feel bloated, tired, experience mood swings, or other after effects, you may want to rethink having them again in the future.

– Bulk Up on Fruit and Veggies

One thing I constantly remind my friends as well as my clients is that fruit and veggies are carbs too! And if you’re dieting, you’re in luck. If you choose the right types of foods in these categories, you can have MORE of them than your starches and grains. Not only are they filled with nutrients that your body needs in order to feel energized and healthy, but they are like nature’s treats!

Pro tip: When choosing fruit, go for low sugar options like berries (any kind!). Every 1/4 cup of rice translates to a full cup of berries you can enjoy over yogurt, with a smidge of honey and almonds, or mixed into a green salad.

Trust me on this one. It may take some time to adjust to the changes, but with a little dedication you can make your gluten free meals count and save a lot of cash in the meantime!

Good luck! 🙂

Nadia

My #1 Happiness Tip: Do Something You Love Every Day

Seeking more happiness in your life? The one thing I’ve found that creates feelings of contentment and delight for me is to follow this one rule:

Do something you love every day.

It seems like a no-brainer. But these days, we are often so busy with work, family obligations, financial struggles, and other daily stressors that we forget to make time for the things that bring us joy. But it doesn’t have to complicated. My personal favorites, in no particular order are:

  • Enjoying a leisurely breakfast.
  • Sipping a cup of coffee in my favorite mug.
  • Reading a book at a cafe.
  • Playing pickup volleyball at the park.
  • Singing in the shower.
  • Hugging my nephews.
  • Watching cat videos on Facebook.

Like I said, it doesn’t have to be difficult or extravagant and it doesn’t have to take much time out of your day. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Make a list of 10-20 things that bring you joy or make you smile. These can be activities, objects, living beings, etc.
  2. Choose one item to add to your daily routine. Perhaps you take an extra moment during your walk to work to appreciate the sunlight or nature or you pause before you head out the door to tell your kids or spouse how much you love them. It should light you up a little on the inside!

Keep the list around so that you can choose a random item on days when you have more time. For bigger benefits, keep a journal. You can look back on it and remember why enjoyed it so much. It will make you that much more likely to do it again soon!

Nadia

What will you choose to add to your daily routine? Share it in the COMMENTS below and be sure to share this blog with a friend who can use a little happiness boost!

Why Vacations Are Good for Your Health

With rising rent costs and endless job responsibilities, we often feel pressured to work ourselves to the bone. But there are some benefits to taking time off. Read on to find out why vacations are good for your health.

Recharge

In today’s society, it’s tough to pull ourselves away from the daily grind. Many successful professionals work 60+ hours a week or more. They live on caffeine to help them keep their energy up. But the fact of the matter is, burnout is inevitable. Vacations allow you to hit the reset button, ideally, before that happens.

Pro tip: Schedule time off on a quarterly basis. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Stay at a local bed and breakfast or resolve to stay at home and catch up on your favorite television shows. It will give your mind a break from your daily to-do.

Integrate

Sometimes there is so much going on at work that we barely give ourselves a second to wrap our heads around each decision we make or action we take. Taking a vacation will allow time for the dust to settle. Whether that’s allowing your thoughts to come together around a major change in your work like (such as a pay cut or possession change) or simply taking in the successes you’ve made in the last year, vacations provide the distance you need to gain perspective.

Pro tip: Use a sick day as a mental health day. Drive to the beach or the woods, some place that makes you feel at ease, and write your thoughts down in a journal.

Increase Productivity

While most of us tend to think that we can’t possibly afford to take time off (“There’s so much to get done!”), vacations actually work wonders for your productivity. In fact, those who take time off are actually happier, less stressed, and are more likely to get a promotion. This is particularly true for those who really make an effort to disconnect (no email, no conference calls) and enjoy themselves.

So tell me, when are you going on YOUR next vacation?

Nadia 😉

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Why You Should Cut Down on Cardio to Lose Weight

Cardio is well-known for it’s benefits of increasing your endurance. More importantly for those trying to lose weight, it increases the amount of fat you burn during a workout. But just because the numbers look impressive doesn’t mean you’re getting the results you actually want. Here’s why you should cut down on cardio to lose weight.

You’ll Want to Eat More

If you’ve been tearing it up on that treadmill, on the track, or in that cardio kickboxing class daily, chances are you’re getting mixed results.  On the one hand, your fitbit says you burned somewhere between 400-1,000 calories in 60 minutes! On the other, it feels like you’re hungry ALL THE TIME! And you should be. Your body needs the fuel to recover from your workout. The only problem is, when you eat more, you don’t get the results you want. It’s because you’re focusing on the wrong thing. 

What to do instead: Dial down your nutrition. Remember that you can’t outrun on a bad diet. Focus on managing your portions and eating a pluthera of low sugar fruit and green veggies. In fact, if you eat the right types of food, you can actually have more without the added calories! Use cardio as a means of exercise for the health of your body instead of weight loss and add a steady regimen of strength training 2-3x a week.

For more tips on how to adopt a healthy diet, check out my blog titled Dieting for Weight Loss: Lose Weight and Eat Carbs Too as well as Simple Tips for Mindful Eating.

Related: 4 Ways to Dominate Your Fitness Goals and Resolutions in 2018.

Good luck!

 

Nadia 😉

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What I’ve Learned Being an Introvert in an Extroverted Job

The moment I realized I wanted to become a fitness instructor was in the middle of my favorite cardio kickboxing class. It encompassed everything I enjoyed about exercise – fun choreography, an energetic and encouraging instructor, and group of women who bonded over their shared commitment to health and fitness. During a time in my life when everything felt chaotic and unsettled, I always left the studio feeling cheerful and at peace with myself. That day, I fell in love with the idea of sharing these feelings with others on a daily basis. Hence, my decision to enter the world of fitness. Little did I know, taking a class and leading one was an entirely different ballgame. During the next few years of my life, I would stretch myself beyond what I thought I was capable of, mentally and physically.

Introvert Fitness Instructor: An Oxymoron?

Soon after getting my certification, I landed a position teaching bootcamps in San Jose, CA. The owner liked that I was friendly and that I shared the company’s values. And yet, I soon became aware of the fact that I was different from the others in a significant way. I always knew that I was introverted, but being an introvert in an extroverted workplace was like having a mirror in front of me. The feedback from the owner and supervisor quickly showed me that I wasn’t as energetic or expressive as I thought I was. They wanted to mold me into an instructor that would fit in with their community and deliver the type experience their clients wanted. I was already physically fit, but what I really needed were:

  • Super-charged, high energy levels.
  • An infectious, positive attitude.
  • A strong, commanding presence.

For a while, I became just that. And I learned so much in the process.

I Need to Project Energy to Create Energy

Enthusiasm and excitement are part of your mindset. Innies have it, but they project it inward. This is often why others think we are always calm even in times when we feel chaotic inside. It’s also what drives people to ask us “What’s wrong?” when we’re quiet, even though everything is usually just fine! 

In contrast, extroverts are great at embodying their feelings and projecting them outwards. And although it may feel unnatural for me and other introverts, projecting energy is a skill that can be practiced. It’s just a matter of finding a way to bring it out. For it me, that usually meant listening to my choreo music, volume at full blast on my way to the studio. I also arrived 15-20 minutes early to practice my routines and “get into character.”

Lesson Learned: I have a wellspring of energy inside me. With a little effort, I can bring it out.

Lesson 2: Recovery Matters

It’s a myth that introverts don’t like to be around people. Many of us enjoy parties, nightclubs, and spending time with friends. However, in contrast to extroverts, who get their energy from hanging out with others, in these situations, an introvert’s energy slowly fades. Alone time is how we recharge.

In the beginning, being an introvert fitness instructor was crazy making. It never occurred to me that my introversion would affect my ability to do my job. Yet, by the middle of each week, I found myself pushing past exhaustion to fake the magic. I started dreading the classes I used to love so much! And once the weekend finally hit, I’d hole up in my room for two days just to feel normal again. When Monday came, the cycle started over again.

I eventually cut the more energy intensive classes, like U-Jam Fitness, cardio-kickboxing, and bootcamps from my schedule. I took on more small groups (2-4 people) and 1:1 personal training, and I started teaching yoga. I felt more peaceful on a daily basis and instead of hiding from the world on my days off, I started reaching out to friends. 

Lesson Learned: Be selfish when it comes to mental and emotional recovery. I am a better, happier person when I take care of myself.

Lesson 3: Always Be Yourself

I’ve been in the fitness industry for six years now. I’ve taught so many different kinds of classes and taught at all sorts of studios, from big corporations to tech companies to high end studios and tiny, local community gyms. The times I felt most chaotic were when I tried to act like someone else. Sure, if I wanted to, I could continue to play the part of the kick-ass, bubbly, high energy, fitness instructor. And I’d be good at it! But it doesn’t feel good. What feels good is connecting with people one on one, sharing my knowledge through blogs and video content, and staying at peace with myself.

And strangely enough, my boss, my co-workers, and my clients like the unique personality and perspective that I bring to the studio. They often tell me that being around me makes them feel grounded and calm. I like that too.

Lesson Learned: It’s okay to be myself. The more I embrace who I am, the more opportunities I give others to embrace me too.

Love & Light âĪ

Nadia

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Dieting for Weight Loss: Lose Weight and Eat Carbs Too

Most fitness fanatics are all or nothing when it comes to dieting for weight loss. Either they’re eating anything and everything they can get their hands on or they keep everything on lock-down. They severely restrict calories, cut out entire food groups (ahem…carbs), dodge anything with a hint of fat, and limit their “meals” to standard diet staples, like raw veggies and tasteless boiled chicken. To be honest, it’s this kind of dieting that will make your trainer face palm. There’s a right way to start dieting for weight loss. This is not it. You can lose weight and eat carbs too, along with other rich and delicious food that you like. Read on to find out how.

How to Lose Weight without Cutting Carbs

Unless you have an extreme food sensitivity, no healthy diet involves completely eliminating an entire food group. Nor should it involve trimming your calories to the point where you are 

  • hungry all the time or
  • unsatisfied with the bare-bone meals that you ARE having.

 In either scenario, you’re setting yourself up for failure! Try these tips instead.

Make Smart Choices

Recognize that not all food options are created equal. In fact, one reason that grains and starches have a bad rap is that they are often more calorie and carbohydrate dense than their fruit and veggie counterparts. You heard right. Fruit and veggies are also carbs! But they contain more water, fiber, and nutrients than grains do. In contrast, grains (pastries and baked goods in particular), tend to be mostly “empty carbs,” the bulk of which, if eaten in excess is stored in the body as fat.

To give you a comparison: 1 slice of bread or a 1/4 of rice are about equal to a full cup of berries, 2 cups of broccoli, or 4 cups of spinach.

Lesson Learned: You can choose to have the pastries if you want. You’ll just have less of them overall than you would of other options.

Also, be sure to add small amounts of healthy fat to your meals. It will help you absorb all those awesome nutrients you consumed. Plus, you’ll feel fuller faster and longer.

Manage Your Portions

Portion sizes, for those who struggle to lose weight, are often too big or too small. Dieters often go from bingeing on restaurant-sized portions of pasta or steak to bite-sized salads and mini-bowls of veggies and proteins. But as we learned in the previous section, not all food items are created equal. That means, where you might cut down on the spaghetti or stir fried rice, you can bulk up on cooked veggies and leafy greens. A balanced plate might look like this:

  • 3 ounces of garlic chicken
  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice
  • 2 cups mixed bell peppers sauteed
  • 1/2 small avocado

For rice lovers, this might seem like a stab in your heart at first, but trust me, once you have the plate in front of you’ll realize that you’re actually getting a lot!

Lesson Learned: Less isn’t always more it when it comes to weight loss. Balance is the key.

Eat Food You Love

The most nefarious diet killer is making the foods you enjoy the bad guys on your weight loss journey. The really is room for the tastes you love most. You just need to find a way to meet your goals and satisfy your taste buds at the same time. That might mean making a few swaps. 

For me, that means choosing between the heavy cream in my coffee and pork sausage links every morning or deciding whether to have two waffles or just one with a mountain of mixed berries on top. There’s compromise in every relationship, right?

Lesson Learned: You have a choice. The one you make depends on you preferences and needs. But either way, you can lose the weight AND eat carbs too!

Nadia

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Why I Don’t Feel Guilty About Getting More Sleep

I used to think I was indulgent when it came to sleep. In my early 20s, I averaged between 9-11 hours a night.

Sleep In a Workaholic Culture

In today’s society and particularly in Western culture, we are no-so-gently encouraged to work hard AND play hard. Those who get into the HUSTLE work 50-60+ hours a week to keep up with the curve while those who work the standard 40 hours or less are judged as lazy or lacking ambition. As someone in the latter camp, I’ve often struggled with this image of laziness. I’d been told be others that I wasn’t living up to my potential and I started to feel that way too. Yet, whenever I attempted to push the limits of my sleep and work habits, I found myself overwhelmed, disorganized, and exhausted. I would forget things (important dates like weddings or meetings), sleep through my alarm, and even have a hard time completing projects.

For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me. I’d heard about successful entrepreneurs who had paired their sleep down to five or six hours a night and were thriving! Why couldn’t I do the same? But in time, as I got to know myself and my habits more, I began to accept that I needed at least 7 hours of sleep to function at my best. Opinions of others be damned! 

The Insightful Video that Changed the Way I View Sleep

 At the end of 2017, I watched a video that confirmed everything I had experienced as it relates to sleep. It changed the way I viewed myself and my body’s needs, all of our bodies needs to be exact!

The video was delivered by Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and writer of the book “Why We Sleep.” In the video he explained the horrifying neurological and physiological consequences accompanying lack of sleep, which include, but are not limited to.

  • High blood pressure – increased stress levels, extreme mood changes, and “200% increased risk of having a fatal heart attack in your lifetime” with 6 or less hours of sleep.
  • Memory loss – or rather inability to hold onto new memories due to impaired brain function.
  • Lowered virility, or fertility – particularly in men, whose virility age can jump decades with chronic sleep deprivation.
  • Impaired immune function – probably most worth of not is the drastic reduction in cancer-fighting immune cells (up to 70%!) after just one night of sleeping under 5 hours.

Lack of sleep also impairs muscle recovery, so if you do have a some sort of workout routine, you may suffer from muscle weakness and lethargy, which will ultimately affect your mood, your energy levels, and your ability to work effectively. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what you were going for???

Get More Sleep

The lesson, according to Walker, is that “We need about eight hours of sleep to repair the damage of wakefulness.” Hearing that from an expert, I feel zero guilt when I get a nine hour night of sleep. In fact, since I work mainly in the afternoons, I rarely set my alarm anymore. I figure

[To watch the sleep video I reference in this blog, head over to Facebook or the Business Insider website.]

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