Most people have heard of the term fasting. Most will recognize fasting from Ramadan, which requires people who follow the Muslim faith to be abstinent of food and water from sunrise to sunset. Intermittent fasting is very similar. The approach is to consume no calories for 16 hours then consume your required calories within an 8-hour window. This process is repeated and done every day, 16 hours of no food consumption, and 8 hours of eating. No calories are to be consumed during the 16 hour fast. The exceptions are water, coffee, sugar-free gum, and zero-calorie sweeteners. Diet sodas have zero calories but venture away from those types of drinks.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
INCREASE IN METABOLISM
The way intermittent fasting indirectly boosts your metabolism is through norepinephrine. During acute starvation, short-term calorie negligence, your body increases norepinephrine levels. Norepinephrine causes an increase in the release of glucose.
We associate a decrease in metabolism when we do not consume calories for long periods of time. When you are unable to consume calories, your body will naturally slow down and decrease its metabolism to adapt
In intermittent fasting, your metabolism does not decrease because the fasting is short term. It increases, you initially put mild stress on the body which equals a higher work demand. There is a higher work demand because now your body has to break down fat stores for energy. Before you allow your body to go into starvation mode, you flip over to eating. Once you start eating your body has a natural decrease in stress because it is now getting calories from an outside source. The body adjusts back to your baseline, slowly raising the threshold and becoming more efficient.
One of the main ways intermittent fasting boosts your immune system is a concept called autophagy. Autophagy is the process of programmed cell death. It is also the ability to find damaged cells and destroy them. During fasting, the body is breaking down glucose, fat, and ketones for energy. On the immunological level, it is also breaking down white blood cells for resources to rebuild. White blood cells is a general term used to associate all our immune cells. Our body naturally breaks down damaged cells and uses those components to create new mature white blood cells for the future.
Intermittent fasting also decreases oxidative stress and inflammation. Long-term effects of oxidation and inflammation increase the risks of developing cancer and other chronic diseases. A decrease in chronic disease, in turn, helps decrease the workload of the immune system. Cell regeneration is escalated during intermittent fasting. While intermittent fasting the human body is always in optimal shape.
The origins of fasting came from philosophers. Their intention was to increase mental capacity and function. Those Greek thinkers found a correlation; fasting increased their cognition and provided a cleaner more efficient way of thinking. Clearly, it worked because we now refer to them as philosophers. You take the work and time needed to consume food and put that effort into brain function and mental processing. This is also aided by autophagy, except this time with brain cells. Intermittent fasting may even regenerate damaged neurons, which is what neurologists are currently researching. The same way you clean your immune system you can cleanse your brain, intern leading to increased mental acuity and cognitive ability.
Intermittent fasting can increase a hormone called BDNF. Studies show that The chemical Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is decreased in depression and other brain issues. An increase in BDNF can make you feel better on a neurological level. During Intermittent fasting more of the BDNF proteins are present in your brain so the likelihood of you getting depressed or even sad should decrease.
How many times have you been hungry at an inconvenient time? You consistently put off food because you are too busy to eat. Intermittent fasting allows you to be on a schedule. You can only eat for 8 hours a day. The human body adapts to this schedule, so you are just hungry for those 8 hours. The food eaten during the 8 hour period has to be nutrient-dense, it has to provide for the whole daily value. If you consume empty calories, like processed food, junk food won’t hold you over. You will be struggling with fasting. The cravings developed will be for healthy foods because the body knows what foods provide the most nutrition. Simply, you’ll feel better because clean food will be going into a clean body.
Intermittent fasting leads to higher productivity. With intermittent fasting, you will be better at planning because you are already on a schedule. If you can mentally change your hunger and cravings, you can change any aspect of your life.
I’ve been fasting on and off for the past few months. The goal is to be as adamant with intermittent fasting as possible; unfortunately, things do come up, and schedules can change relatively quickly. My 16-8 intermittent fasting is consistent for most of the month. I do notice the differences when I stray away from fasting for a few days compared to when I am persistent. I feel that intermittent fasting did indeed increase metabolism, immune function, brain health, and self-control.
Toxic Personality Traits
Each item that we consume helps to either heal us or poison us. It is not just food that nourishes our bodies but also everything that we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. From the books you read to the air you breathe, all that you consume is a source of nourishment. Every single conversation that you have will positively or negatively impact you. Review your relationships. Do these connections nourish love and support, or do they feed self-doubt and anxiety?
Often we encounter people who fuel our insecurities and drain our emotional well-being. If you notice this to be a trend for a certain person, they may be toxic. It is important to take a step back, assess the relationship, and care for yourself.
Below is a guide to help you starve the negative aspects of your life so that the positives may be nourished. You will learn to identify toxic personality traits and how to protect yourself from them as well as how to heal any toxic behaviors that you may have.
Toxic Personality Traits to Look for and Avoid
Selfishness: Can you think of anyone that asks for your support through all of their problems, yet when you need help, they are never available? This is a key trait of a toxic person. Unless it is about them, these people don’t care. They do not support you, and they definitely do not go out of their way for you. Conversations are almost always about them, and you will frequently find yourself cut off the moment you can finally get a word in.
- Negativity – For a toxic person, something is always wrong, and nothing is ever right. They often display their negativity through sarcastic comments and complaints. They focus on problems rather than solutions and may frequently suck all the positivity out of you.
- Manipulation – To get what they want, toxic people often try to control you. These people are experts at playing with your emotions and using them against you if needed. They may be very subtle with this, leaving people unaware that they are even being manipulated until it is too late.
- Triggering Other’s Guilt – Toxic people tend to “guilt” others into getting what they want. If they are being accused of something, they may shift the conversation by bringing up irrelevant details about something they did years ago. If they are looking for attention, they may persuade you to drop what you are doing and spend time with them. A common example would be, “If you really loved me, you would come to see me tonight instead of going to that exercise class.”
- Lacking Empathy – Unable to empathize, toxic people cannot comprehend the feelings that another person is experiencing. They don’t take the time to understand another person’s situation because they are too wrapped up in their own world.
- Jealous and Judgmental – A toxic person feels a need to believe that they are the “best”. If something positive happens to another person, they become upset that this event did not happen to them as well. These feelings are often released through judgmental gossip or criticism. This is their attempt to lower your self-esteem and, in turn, increase theirs. They try to build themselves up by tearing others down.
- Telling Lies – Whether it is to get themselves out of a situation or to make themselves the hero of the story, toxic people may frequently lie. They might create an entirely new scenario, twist an existing story around, or just remove essential facts. Either way, this action leaves it difficult to trust what they are saying.
- Victim Mentality – A toxic person will never admit they are wrong. Rather than taking responsibility for their feelings or actions, toxic people often blame anything or anyone but themselves. They are always the victims, and they thrive off of others’ attention and compassion when they play this role.
- Disrespectful – Needing always to be put first. Toxic people will hurt anyone that they feel threatened by. They will not stop to respect you or your feelings. Often they may say very painful things and later play them off as a joke.
- Center of Attention – Toxic people will do anything for attention. They love being the star of the show. Attention is their main source of validation; it makes them feel important. If there is ever a dull moment, they will create a crisis just to enjoy watching people try to help them.
Protect Yourself from Toxic People
Spending time with a toxic person can leave you feeling emotionally drained and unfulfilled. They subtly attack your self-esteem and may leave you with a negative attitude. Although you may feel bad for them, your well-being must be a priority. Here are some steps to protect yourself from toxic people:
- Identify: Review the above list of toxic personality traits. A person does not have to possess each of the traits to be toxic. Just a few obvious signs may be enough. Knowing and understanding these traits is the first step to recognizing if there is anyone currently in your life that fits the description as well as identifying people that you will meet in the future. It is important to spot a toxic person before they get too close.
- Assess: Review your relationship with each person that you identified. How do they make you feel? Are you sad after your interactions? Drained? Do you feel pressured by them or the need to impress them? Be honest with yourself and take some time to weigh out the pros and cons.
- Set boundaries: You may not be able to change what another person does, but you can change what you do. Although you may feel guilty, setting boundaries is the most important thing you can do for your health. If you noted many negatives when you were assessing, it might be best to bring those relationships to an end. If this is not possible, you should set strict internal and external boundaries to follow. If this person is a close family member, counseling may be a step in the right direction.
- Follow your instincts: If you are unsure of whether someone is toxic or not, listen to your gut! Whenever you get a feeling that something or someone is not quite right, trust that feeling and take action to care for yourself.
Reviewing and Redirecting Your Behavior
Now, you may be great at noticing these traits externally – but have you searched within? WHAT IF YOU’RE THE CAUSE OF TOXICITY IN YOUR LIFE? Unfortunately, we all have unhealthy personalities deep within us that negatively impact our lives. We may consider them “issues”, but haven’t fully wrapped our minds around these traits and haven’t made an effort to change them. Take a minute to review the list again. Are there any toxic personality traits that you can see in yourself?
Tips for healing your identified trait:
- Admit it. Look inward to identify all your toxic behaviors and start to eliminate them. Take 100% responsibility. Practice self-discipline.
- Be the hero, not the victim. When we play the victim, we choose to blame others instead of choosing responsibility. This only leads to feelings of powerlessness. No, the universe is not against you. Stop giving opportunities to people who make you feel inferior and let you down. Learn the power of saying “no” and “yes” to the right opportunities.
- Look on the bright side. You can never fail in life; your actions merely produce results. It’s up to you how to interpret those results. Positive thinking is an understanding of how to feel negative emotions and still maintain enough hope to keep going. Sometimes we can’t shape our life situation, but we can shape our attitude toward those situations. Be vigilant over your thoughts, and stop the toxic negativity.
- Take a break from social media. Don’t allow yourself to waste time scrolling through posts that you are judging or comparing yourself to. Worrying about what other people are doing consumes a lot of energy that could be spent on improving your own life. Constantly comparing what others have is completely toxic and a waste of time. Your life is your journey, not a competition with others. Measure your progress by comparing yourself to who you were yesterday.
- Accept that “perfect” is a myth. Perfectionism grows when you feel imperfect and deeply flawed. You have to constantly re-earn or re-prove your worth to others or yourself. The problem is that you’re constantly seeking external validation. It’s like being on a treadmill, always chasing the feeling that everything in your life is “right”. But absolute perfection doesn’t exist. Life is a continual journey, constantly changing and evolving. You need to realize that true internal acceptance and peace come from understanding what’s inside of you. You’ll never hustle your way into self-love.
- Say, thank you. Be grateful for what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have. Writing down three things each day that you are grateful for can open your eyes to all that you have and allow you to reach a greater appreciation for them. Slow down and enjoy each experience. Sometimes, the best things in life are easily overlooked.
Ask yourself: would you want to hang around with me? Be someone you want to be around. Your mission isn’t to please everyone, but are you bringing negativity to your environment? Today, you have the power to make incremental changes to evolve into a greater version of yourself.
Truths of Life
In the game of life, we often find ourselves with more downs than ups. More sad moments than happy moments. The truth is we usually wait with hope for something to just happen, things to just change direction and only get better. Sometimes we need some tough love to open our eyes to the harsh truths that make us stronger.
“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” -Abraham Maslow
Truths That Will Make You Stronger
Life Isn’t Fair
We spend the majority of our lives waiting; waiting for something to happen, waiting for something to begin, waiting for something to end. Nothing comes simple. Luck isn’t what brings success, but rather hard work is what turns dreams into a plan and that plan a reality. Wake up every morning with the mindset of going further than you did yesterday.
Only Person That Can Make You Stronger is You
External influences can boost your mood, but for how long can others sustain your happiness? The origin of happiness comes from your relationship with yourself. Have a date for yourself and discover things that you have not before. The bottom line is; in the long run, nothing matters more than the way you feel about who you are on the inside.
The World Owes You Nothing
You can be the most intelligent person in the world, the funniest, and be the most attractive, but if no one is aware of these traits, you’ll get nothing out of them. We all feel entitled as if the universe owes us something? Listen. You are left with two options; either you continuously feel sorry for yourself because you deserve more or you step into the world, and you take what is attributed to you. Take a hint, which choice do successful people take? Be grateful. Be humble. Conquer your day. Being alive and healthy is a privilege.
There May be no Tomorrow
Death is a part of life. Nothing can prepare us for the earth-shattering feeling of losing a loved one. The truth is, at this very moment, you have someone planning something for tomorrow without actualizing the possibility of not having a tomorrow. Spend your time intelligently and appreciate the present moment. Don’t put off making that phone call or visiting your family members that you haven’t seen in a while.
Not Everyone Will Support You
You can’t pose meaning to everyone and everything. Unfortunately, in life, there isn’t a shortage of haters, doubters, and Debbie Downers. You know that lasting happiness comes from you. Therefore, trust your instincts and forget about the people that doubt you. In this society, we are always worried about gratification from others. Forget them. Concentrate on doing what you know in your heart is just.
You Can’t Control Everything
We all know those people that have a tight grip and micro-manage each situation. Letting go sometimes is the best option, as it’ll give an opportunity to grow and allow for things to unfold as they are meant to be. I’ve sometimes learned that the events that are least planned turn out better than the events that are planned to the T. This doesn’t mean that you should have the mentality for everything of “wait and hope.” Still put in 100% dedication, but relinquish your grip and trust the universe, which will make things right.
Failure is Inevitable
We may fail a few times, and it devastates us. We quickly judge, seeing ourselves as failures. The truth is, you are too hard on yourself. Whatever your aim is in life, you’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can 100% guarantee nothing will work if you don’t put in an effort. Look at the positive note of failure. It makes you learn a lesson, build strength, gain experience, and increase your chances of achieving the goal you set out to complete.
Information is Not Knowledge
The information does not equal true knowledge. Knowledge can only be achieved through direct experience. The first-hand experience that you expose yourself to will genuinely help you understand what is meant by the information. An example was learning how to start IVs on patients. I can read a manual 100 times on the technique, even descriptions of the feeling when you’ve hit the vein. The information only gave me an understanding. Until I do the task hands-on, I will achieve knowledge, reasoning, and intuition.
Nobody is Too Busy
Guy or a girl never responded to you? How many times were you going to do something and told yourself “I will just do it later”? It is just a matter of priority. If you haven’t got a text/call from someone, it’s because they deliberately chose not to answer. People that tell you I don’t have time are simply telling you “You are not important.” Harsh truth but the sooner you learn this, the sooner you’ll make time for the people that share equal importance. Everyone has time; it’s just a matter of priority.
You Will Never be 100% Ready
We have always been told to make a decision when 100% ready. “Be ready before making the big decision.” Our parents protected us from ideas and truths we were not prepared to learn about. We have been conditioned to be thoroughly committed and ready before making the right decision. The fact is, nobody feels 100% when an opportunity arises. Waiting for the perfect moment will never happen because only experiences and lessons will prepare you for what is next in life. The most significant moments in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zone.
When an opportunity arises will you be the person that accepts the challenge of growth, or step back into safety?
Staying Healthy in Winter
Wintertime is associated with sickness and uncomfortably cold weather. Not everyone lives in a warm climate, and some of us don’t mind the winter season. Being a native Chicagoan, I’d like to give you a few tips on getting through winter.
What to do to Stay Healthy During Winter
Increase your Vitamin C
According to Mayo Clinic, the daily recommended intake of vitamin C is 90 mg, with an upper limit of 2,000. Don’t be afraid to hit that upper limit. Vitamin C is water-soluble, so you’ll filter out whatever your body does not use. Vitamin C is the building block of your immune system, and making sure you get enough daily is crucial to staying healthy. IV doses of vitamin C have been shown to cure certain cancers, so you can only imagine how valuable it is to your body.
Wash Your Hands and Cover Your Mouth
I’m sure that is what you tell your kids, but do you do it as much as you should? About 40% to 60% of people admit to not washing their hands, and roughly the same amount does not cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing. Instead, you should wash and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and use your arm to cover your mouth. Don’t be part of the problem, do the simple hygiene routine that can stop the spread of infection.
Turn in Early
Getting enough sleep is an essential aspect of staying healthy. Inconsistency in sleep and sleep deprivation decrease immune cells in your body. When it’s time to fight a virus, your body is weaker, leading you to get sick more easily. Knocking out early will give you more energy to tackle the next day’s challenges. Plus, there is nothing more comforting during a cold night than snuggling up in a warm blanket and falling asleep.
Our skin gets dried out more frequently during winter. It is essential to keep your skin healthy and happy. Moisturizer helps treat damaged skin. Skin is our first barrier against germs. Make sure it is hydrated and satisfied. It just feels right having healthy skin.
Dress for the Weather
Hoodie and short-season are over; you may be able to get away with it in fall but not winter. Keeping your body warm promotes circulation. Why put yourself through the trouble of feeling colder than you should. Not dressing appropriately causes your body to focus on internally staying warm. This takes away from your body’s ability to fight germs. If you don’t like winter, don’t make it worse for yourself. Dress warmly.
Winter can be rough and uncomfortable, especially when you’re not used to them. Staying healthy during this season is especially important because this is the time most people are getting sick. It is crucial to take plenty of vitamin C, wash your hands, and cover your mouth, get plenty of rest, moisturize, and dress warmly.
Why Is Stress Good
How do you view stress? Is it good or bad? If you were to ask the first person you see about their view on stress, they would most likely say It’s bad. We associate stress with increased heart disease and poor mental health, and in a chronic state, it can greatly damage your quality of life.
Now imagine where you would be in life without it. As bad of a reputation as we have built up for stress, it is the drive that leads to our accomplishments. Stress, when it’s temporary and well managed, gives us the opportunity to vision, innovate, and create.
When you start to think about the physiology of stress, you feel an increase in heart rate, an increase in breathing, and a decrease in appetite. For a brief time, it is beneficial because it increases blood and oxygen to your brain along with vital organs. This stress process is what puts the image in the imagination. That’s where the light bulb turns on, and ideas come into existence.
The stress response is also called the fight or flight response. The exact mechanism is the stimulation of our sympathetic nervous system. This course of action leads to the physiological changes our bodies exhibit during a stressful period. It is our body’s natural response to stepping outside of our comfort zone and our adaptation in times of unpredictability.
Adrenaline and noradrenaline are the main hormones released during times of stress. These hormones are the cause of the changes listed below. Another hormone released during stress is oxytocin, also referred to as the “love hormone”. It has been associated with the ability of an individual to open up and bond with others during stressful periods. Everyone has been behind in a group project, but eventually, the group syncs together, and their business is accomplished.
The reason your eyes dilate during the night is to allow more light to enter. During stress, ocular dilation occurs, allowing the brain to capture more of the environment. When visual capacity increases, you’re better able to process what is going on. The efficiency of discerning a situation is increased.
Relaxes Bronchi, Accelerates Heart rate
To better explain this, I’ll shed some basic human anatomy on this; bronchi are passages for air to enter the lungs. By relaxing, they are able to hold more air, leading to an increase in oxygen. Temporary acceleration in our heart rate is beneficial, the keyword being “temporary”. If your resting heart rate is consistently above 100, that is not a sign of good health, but that is a whole different subject altogether. That interim increase in heart rate allows more oxygen to enter the brain. This jolt of oxygen supplied by the lungs and heart contributes to a more proficient thought process and increases mental capability.
Increase glucose production and release
Glucose is fuel for our bodies. The long-term effects of increased glucose are harmful and should not be sustained. It can lead to diabetes. However, a brief spike in glucose permits cells to absorb more energy and work harder. When cells work harder, you work harder. Maybe this temporary rush is what you need to get through that term paper or corporate presentation. It is unfortunately followed by a crash in which you may feel tired. But hey, at least the hard part’s over.
Before you affiliate all negativity with stress, think about it. In no notion am I promoting stress or wishing lots of stress on any human being. I want you to consider that this is a physical sign and feeling of change that your body is promoting. Maybe you just need to get things done or put yourself in a better situation. Don’t associate this stressful period with a barrier. Think of it as your body helping you.
Your body is facilitating change. It increases brain activity by providing it with an increased supply of oxygen and fuel. Use this temporary benefit and accomplish a goal or the task at hand. Consider it a natural pre-workout and let your aspirations become an actuality. After all, a response is what you make of it.
Benefits of Drinking A Gallon Of Water A Day
Drinking a gallon of water a day seems like a chore.
Normally people don’t drink close to a gallon of water a day, and many aren’t aware of the benefits it possesses. To start off, our body is made up of about 60% water. With such a large water-to-body ratio, why aren’t we drinking enough water?
Water is so beneficial, so easy, so free, yet so easily overlooked. If you have frequent headaches, are constipated, or are always hungry, water might be the answer for you. I used to suffer from frequent headaches, and my only relief was 200mg of ibuprofen.
If people think headaches are “normal” and just pop a pill to relieve the symptoms, then you are wrong. It can be a multitude of other factors, but it’s important to treat the most common underlying cause of dehydration!
So do you literally have to drink a gallon a day?
The answer is no. Medline recommends 8 (8oz) glasses a day, and others suggest taking your weight into consideration. To be honest, you can’t overdo drinking water because the kidneys will simply excrete anything excess, a.k.a peeing a lot! For example, a person that weighs 160 pounds should drink 5 water bottles, which is a little less than 3/4 of a gallon.
Proper hydration is key for optimal health; not consuming enough can lead to serious complications, including but not limited to dehydration. All of our organs and cells need water to function.
Benefits of water include:
Increase in energy & relieves fatigue
- Our brain is mostly made up of water. Drinking plenty of water helps you think, focus, and be more alert. After about two weeks of being on top of my water intake, I realized when waking up, I was less dependent on coffee for that mental boost of energy.
Promotes weight loss
Flushes out toxins
- Water helps the body get rid of toxins through sweat and urination, which also reduces your risk of kidney stones and UTIs (Urinary Tract Infection). Speaking of flush… You’ll be heading to the bathroom more often.
Improves skin complexion
- Hydration prevents dryness and wrinkles reduce blemishes, and it’s the best anti-aging product around! I noticed with regular consumption of water, I relied less on lotion to keep my skin moisturized
Boosts immune system
Prevents cramps & Sprains
- Proper hydration keeps your joints lubricated and muscles elastic. The cause of muscle cramps is not exactly known. It is thought to be caused by many things such as overuse, staying in one position for too long, electrolyte dysfunction, and of course, the main one is dehydration.
With the perks that water has, why not give a daily gallon of water a try? You can always start with less and build your way to the recommended water intake. Be ready to feel more focused, energized, and less hungry. Ultimately small changes in your life will help you become a better version of yourself.