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Clean Eating on the Go

We all know that our diet has a huge effect on our moods, our productivity and our energy levels. We all work hard to eat the right things when we are at home and have time to plan the healthy and nourishing dinners we prefer. However, all that flies out the window when we have too many busy days in a row. To avoid dining at the vending machines or sneaking out for a fast food fix, keep the following tips in your arsenal:

Breakfast food isn't just for breakfast.
Some of the healthiest and fastest food choices are the ones we eat to get ourselves going at the start of the day. Oatmeal is a whole grain option that comes together in minutes. It can be as satisfying and filling for lunch as for a breakfast treat.

Pick options that do not negate the benefits of whole grain oats with high amounts of sugar or fat. This is where it pays to be a label-reader; many brands will tell you in the nutritional labels whether they are a good choice.

Prepare the night before.
If you know that Tuesday is going to be a killer, some meal preparation is in order on Monday night. Make a breakfast and lunch that you can grab as you head out the door. If you have the energy to plan dinner, too, consider loading up your crock pot. Put it on before you leave for the office in the morning and you will have a warm and healthy meal to greet you when you walk in the door. Having this in place cuts the chances of calling for pizza when exhaustion stands between you and cooking your evening meal.

Don't forget fruit.
Hard fruits like apples and oranges can sit for days in a desk drawer without showing any signs of wear. Fruit is highly portable, nutritious and delicious. If you have a sweet and crunchy honeycrisp tucked away, you are more likely to eat it than a snack from the vending machines when mid-afternoon hunger strikes. 

Dried fruit can also be part of a great mini-meal. Just make sure that you pick options without added sugar and that you watch your portions. Because the water content is removed, dried fruit is a lot more compact than its fresh equivalent. It's very easy to mindlessly suck down 200-300 calories of dried tropical fruit mix without noticing.

Eat mindfully even when you are busy.
We've all had the experience of opening a bag of chips at our desk and slipping one after another into our mouths as we continue with work. Instead, force a five minute break to pay deliberate attention to what you eat. When we truly dedicate our senses to eating, we feel more satisfied and are more likely to stay aware of what we put in our bodies.

A few small changes can make a big difference in how we eat. By incorporating these tips, we can keep up the same dedication to healthy eating when we are away from home.  


5 Proven Tricks for Dealing with Toxic People

You know who they are. Those people, at work or elsewhere, who are relentlessly negative. The folks who manage to kill your enthusiasm and your mood. The ones who, if you are not careful, can drag you into interpersonal drama and can completely sabotage your productivity. Unfortunately, we don't always have the power to avoid these people and we just have to find ways to work around them. A few of the most effective tricks for dealing with the toxic people in your life:

1. Limit your exposure to toxic people.
When you are able to, work to keep physical distance between you and toxic family members and coworkers. Arrange schedules so that yours and theirs do not match up. The less you are together, the less chance that they will contribute to a poor emotional state.

2. Be mindful of your emotions.
Check in with yourself. Think about how you are feeling. If you are not aware of your emotions, it is that much easier for a chronic button-pusher to get you worked up. By becoming more aware of your own emotions and your emotional patterns, you will be better able to stop, take a breather, and set yourself on a more constructive path.

3. Practice honor toward yourself.
Be respectful of your own emotional and mental health as you would another person's. Stand up for yourself when people are attempting to manipulate or intimidate you. Feel comfortable saying no when you do not want to spend time with someone or participate in a specific task. By treating yourself well, you increase your self-esteem and help develop a steadier emotional keel.

4. Understand that it's not your fault.
When someone is negative or toxic, it's not about you. Chances are, they are not thinking at all about how their words and behavior affect you at all. Their actions are about their inner lives. When you truly realize that this behavior is not personal, it is easier to separate yourself from how this person treats you. Realize that what they do reflects on them alone and you will find that you are less likely to become bogged down in negative emotions.

5. Focus on solutions instead of problems.
When we stew about how someone acts or how they make us feel, we are only amplifying the problem. Instead of dwelling on what you cannot change, think in terms of how you can make things better in the future. Can you switch to another team? Can you commit to slowing down and examining your emotions before you get deep into a funk? Thinking about healthier patterns puts the power back in your hands.

There will always be times that we have to deal with toxic people. While they cannot be avoided, the harm that they do to you can. By taking control of how you react, you can reduce their impact and improve your own resilience and health. 


Short Circuit the Insomnia Cycle

Sleep is incredibly important to our physical and mental wellbeing, but sometimes it can be elusive. At any given time, about a third of adults are having trouble falling or staying asleep for the night. Once you've experienced a sleepless night, you'll often find that the common ways of coping with them leads to more of them. Late naps can make it even harder to fall asleep in the evening. Caffeine can keep you going through a rough day, but it can also make it harder to fall asleep and become truly rested. To get back into a healthy sleep pattern, you need to short circuit the cycle. These tips can help:

1. Go easy on the caffeine.
Many people are more sensitive to caffeine than they think; an afternoon cup of coffee may offer a pick-me-up, but can keep you tossing and turning at night. Instead of turning to coffee or energy drinks, try to revive yourself with a brisk walk or a few minutes of meditation.

2. Don't look at your phone when you can't sleep.
You're in bed, you're bored... why not see what's happening on Facebook? There is actually good reason that that social media peek can harm. Our screens blast blue-tinted light in our faces that makes our brains think that it is time to be awake and alert. Every time you take a look at your phone, you are setting yourself up for more wakefulness.

3. Don't stay in bed when you can't sleep.
Your bed should be associated with calm and restful sleep. If you spend hours tossing and turning, you will find that you begin to associate your bed with insomnia instead of rest. Try getting up and sitting in another room. Read something dry and boring that will not engage you and keep you up.

4. Consider making your bedroom screen-free.
Our cell phones, monitors and other objects all give off light even when they aren't on. Most have indicators that they are charging or have messages to show us. Also, it is too easy to get caught in a Netflix binge or a Wikipedia freefall, staying up hours past the time you should have gone to bed. By taking screens out of the room, you remove both stimulation and temptation.

5. Use medication sparingly.
Medical therapies like Ambien are only meant to be used for a short period of time to reset your sleep schedule. Research shows that the sleep you get with sleeping pills is not the deep, restorative sleep that comes naturally. Becoming dependent on pills can make it harder to get natural sleep and lead to getting less quality sleep overall.

For most people insomnia lasts a few days or a couple of weeks. By changing your habits, you can stop the insomnia cycle and start getting the deep rest you need to be your most effective self.


Indoor Exercise for Stress Reduction

Cold winter weather can make heading outside for a jog unappealing. But, becoming idle during the winter months can have a negative effect on your moods. Incorporating indoor exercise helps you stay fit and active just when need the activity to beat holiday season stress. A few of the activities that can keep you feeling your best:

1. Climb stairs.
No need to hit the gym for a cardio machine. Walking up and down stairs can give you the sort of workout that can help you work out some energy and get the mood-lifting benefits. To get an even better workout, grab a couple of dumbbells and do bicep curls while you go.

2. Do planks.
The plank challenge went viral for a reason. This exercise helps you build your core strength, which can help cut back pain. Since pain and stress are deeply related, this is an exercise that is good for both. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. 

3. Dance!
Experts recommend that we get 30 minutes of cardio activity at least five times a week. If you don't want to do that all at once, consider breaking it up into three 10 minute mini dance parties. Ten minutes of dancing is usually about three songs. Pick out playlists that make you happy and get you moving. Including favorite upbeat songs gives you the benefit of the movement and the music.

4. Do a sun salutation.
This yoga move can be done as slowly as you want to get the best benefit. Take time in each step of the pose to breathe and relax. By making it a moving meditation, you can get the calming benefits along with pain-relieving stretching.

5. Do lunges.
These work muscles in the lower half of your body and can even offer an aerobic boost. Try doing lunges down a hall in your home or office. Instead of going back up to a standing position, just step into the next lunge.

The best part about these exercises is that they can be done wherever you are and require no special equipment. By adding even a few minutes of motion every day, you can do a lot of good. You will find that you have more energy, less stress and that you feel healthier and happier all winter long.