Healthy Lifestyle

Don't Forget the Basics: Sleep

blog sleep dont forget the basics2How much sleep do you get each night? It is important to remember that the amount of time you spend in bed is not equal to the number of hours you actually sleep. It takes time to fall asleep, so you need to take that into account.

Sleep is essential for the basic repair of systems in the body including neurological, endocrine, immune, musculoskeletal, and digestive systems. Without adequate sleep, you cannot be healthy. Unfortunately, it isn’t always a priority in our society.

Adults generally require 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but American adults only average 6.8 hours (this is over an hour less than it was in 1942). One-third of adults don’t even get 6 hours of sleep.

To make matters worse, more than a third of Americans have trouble sleeping every night while over half report sleep problems at least a few nights a week. It is no surprise that the use of sleep aids has dramatically increased in recent years.

Let’s look at the importance of sleep and what you can do to improve yours. 


Sleep is Crucial 

Have you ever realized that you get sick a lot more when you aren’t sleeping well? It is no coincidence. Sleep directly impacts your immune system, but that is not all it impacts. Sleep is also important for:

  • Enhancing memory and mental clarity
  • Musculoskeletal growth and repair
  • Boosting mood and energy
  • Increasing stress tolerance


What happens when you don't get enough sleep?

Melatonin (one of the main hormones controlling your circadian rhythms) increases immune system function to protect you from infections. If you are not getting enough sleep it can not do its job.

Sleeping for less than 6 hours a day is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation, worsening insulin resistance, and an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It is also associated with heart disease, hypertension, and psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety.

You can eat a perfect diet, but if you are not sleeping enough and managing your stress, you can still tend towards poor health!

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Don't Forget the Basics

blog hydration dont forget the basicsAt the beginning of the year, many people make a point of realigning their goals. This often takes the form of a New Year’s resolution.

You may have a resolution to save money, exercise more, read more, eat healthy, or cut down on alcohol. These are all great goals, but it is important to include the basics alongside them.

One of the basics is remembering to stay hydrated while you are working towards your other goals. In fact, staying hydrated can help you achieve many of your other goals and feel good in the process.

Staying properly hydrated is more involved than simply drinking eight glasses of water. Let’s look at some of the nuances surrounding hydration and learn one trick to make it happen.


Beyond Water

You need water, but you also need all sorts of minerals. Your current water processing and filtering systems have probably stripped away most of those minerals from your water. 

If you are drinking just plain water (especially if you have a lot of it), you can dilute the mineral-rich fluids in your body. This makes your kidneys work way harder than they need to, and you may find yourself running to the bathroom constantly to pee off all of that excess fluid. 

Adrenal cocktails are a great way to counter these concerns. These are mineral-rich drinks that particularly focus on supporting sodium and potassium levels. This allows your body to replace the minerals lost and keep the liquid from diluting them. It also contains Vitamin C which helps in the utilization of these vitamins and provides bio-available copper. 


Adrenal Cocktails

There are several ways to make an Adrenal Cocktail. My favorite recipe consists of 1 cup of coconut water, the juice of 1 lime, and 1/4 tsp. salt. You can find more adrenal cocktail recipes here

After you try some of these recipes, you can experiment with some of your own. It’s easy to make one. Just include a source of sodium, potassium, and vitamin C.


Gel Water

When I'm not drinking my Adrenal Cocktails, I make sure all of my water is some form of gel water. 

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Making and Keeping New Year's Resolutions

blog new years resolutions 2022As the New Year approaches, millions of people begin planning their New Year’s Resolutions. Exercising, losing weight, and saving money are among the most popular goals. 

While the new year may feel like a great time to start fresh, accomplishing these resolutions is not as easy as it may seem. According to the University of Scranton, research suggests that only 8% of people achieve their New Year's goals.

Perhaps the reason so many people do not succeed is that they are missing some key elements in making their resolutions. This year let’s look at some important principles that are commonly missed and set you up for success!  


1. Clarify Your “Why?”

You may rush through life to the point where you lose track of yourselves. In order to set meaningful goals, you will need to slow down and get back in touch with your true self. 

Notice what you are really passionate about so that you know what is worth changing in your life. There’s no point in working hard towards a goal that doesn’t align with what you want in life. Make sure you are investing in things that really matter.


2. Know Thyself Deeper

Notice what drives your behavior. It is a crucial part of understanding yourself, so you are set up for success. This step can feel like you are doing anything, but don’t skip this step. It is so important!

Before attempting to add healthy behavior, notice your inner experience surrounding your current practice. If you want to stop eating late at night, notice the feeling you have when you eat before bed tonight. 

Are you really hungry? If so, your plan will look much different than if you recognize that you are actually lonely.


3. Be Realistic

Take an honest look at your capacity. What is your schedule like? What commitments do you have? How is your physical and emotional energy?

As much as we hate to admit it, we are finite beings with limited capacity. Saying “yes” to one thing will mean saying “no” to something else. Make sure that your goal is worth saying “yes” to and figure out what you will say “no” to.


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Stress Eating During the Holidays

blog stress eating holidaysIt can be tempting to reach for food when you are feeling the stress of the holidays, and with all the sweet treats around it is easier than ever to “stress eat!” Eating when you are stressed is considered emotional eating. It is an attempt to fill an emotional need rather than a physical one. 

This strategy works temporarily as the treats distract you by the taste and affect the chemicals in your body. The surge of dopamine after a sweet treat brings temporary relief from the stress you are feeling, but it won’t last long. 

While it may help you not to feel stressed in the moment, it doesn’t effectively deal with the underlying stressors and often leads to regret. There are many better ways to deal with stress, but first, you need to recognize when you are beginning to turn to food for relief.

Let’s take a look at emotional eating and how to handle it throughout the holiday season.


Building Awareness

Cultivating self-awareness is the first step to dealing with emotional eating. By checking in with yourself and knowing the clues, you can determine whether you are truly hungry or if you are trying to meet an emotional need. 

When you go to eat, ask yourself, “How do I feel right now?”. Are you stressed, sad, lonely, angry, or bored? If you are experiencing a difficult emotion, ask yourself if you are really hungry or if you are trying to meet an emotional need.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell, but Mayo Clinic has identified some clues you can look for to determine if you are really hungry. For instance,

  • physical hunger generally comes on gradually after a period of not eating, while emotional hunger can come on suddenly even if you have eaten recently. 
  • physical hunger is felt in the stomach, while emotional hunger is felt in the mind.
  • physical hunger often builds gradually and there is patience felt in meeting that need, while emotional hunger tends to demand an immediate response.
  • emotional hunger often feels like it can only be satisfied with a specific type of food, while physical hunger is able to be satisfied with a variety of options.
  • emotional eating often makes you feel ashamed, while physical hunger just ends up leaving you satisfied.


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A Trick for Holiday Stress

blog cover overcoming mediocrityThe holidays are a wonderful time of the year, but they can also be stressful. Many of us live at our capacity throughout the year. So, when we are expected to add extra responsibilities to our already too full plates it can feel overwhelming.

What can we do if we don’t want to let stress distract us from the joy of the holidays? Let’s start with self-care! I know many of you just groaned internally. Self-care may seem like one more thing on your to-do-list, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Finding simple ways to take care of yourself is a key component to getting through the holidays with as much joy as possible. It doesn’t have to take long, just a few minutes of intentional self-care can reset your system.

Let’s look at some ways to incorporate these practices into your holidays.



Grounding is simply bringing your awareness back to the present moment by focusing on your body and surroundings. The key is the intention and awareness behind the action.

It can be as simple as 

  • closing your eyes and paying attention to your breath:
  • looking at things in your surroundings one by one. 
  • noticing sensory input like a soft blanket or pillow. 

For more directed grounding exercise check out the following:


Something enjoyable

Schedule something that you enjoy every day. It doesn’t have to take more than five minutes or cost anything at all. Seriously, it could be as simple as blowing bubbles in your milk. Just include one thing that you can look forward to.

Each person will be different based on personality, circumstance, and values. Think about what would be life-giving to you. Some ideas include:

  • calling a friend
  • giving yourself five minutes of solitude
  • going for a quick run
  • taking time to read. 

It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, the important thing is to choose something that is enjoyable for you. 

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Gifts That They Will Love

blog gifts that they will loveBlack Friday is over, but you still may be shopping for the next couple weeks. In our family, some of the most cherished gifts are things you can’t wrap under the tree. Most of us don’t need more material goods, so giving experiences can be a great way to express your love and make memories that last! 

One of my favorite gifts from my parents was a family membership to the Naperville Children's Museum for our family. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! We thought of them every time we went there all year. 

When you give an experience as a gift, the key is finding something they will enjoy that fits in your budget. It could be something super simple like a date with you to a local coffee shop, or it could be a little more elaborate. 

Let’s look at some ideas for experiences that your loved ones may enjoy!



Many children enjoy a new toy, but it can quickly get lost among all the others. That’s why experiences are so great. They will have the memory far longer than they will enjoy a toy. Think about getting them a…

  • pass or membership to the Zoo (Brookfield and Cosley Zoo are both great)
  • membership to a children's museum
  • ticket to a new movie (with money for popcorn of course)
  • ticket to take the Metra train (into the city or to Toot Toot’s restaurant in Glen Ellyn)
  • kids' manicure/pedicure
  • ticket to a children’s show (or school play)
  • ticket to a sporting event
  • couple of games of bowling
  • horseback riding lesson
  • series of swim lessons



Teens have outgrown most toys, but money feels so impersonal. A great solution is to give them an experience they would love! Consider giving the teens in your life a…

  • ticket to a new movie (with money for snacks)
  • manicure/pedicure
  • ticket to a show at a local theater
  • ticket to a sporting event
  • Spotify credit
  • craft class (pottery, macramé, etc.)
  • horseback riding lesson
  • music class
  • escape room experience



Many of us have more things than we know what to do with. Organizing more things can be overwhelming. That’s why experiences are so valuable. Some ideas for adults are a…

  • ticket to a sporting event
  • manicure/pedicure
  • foot, back, or full-body massage
  • ticket to a show at a local theater
  • Spotify credit
  • store membership (Costo, etc.)
  • escape room experience
  • ax throwing experience
  • coupon for watching their kids

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