Shakeology® Is Low-Glycemic: What That Means and Why It Matters to You!

What’s the Glycemic Index?

Simply put, the glycemic index is a way to measure how carbohydrates react in your blood. When you eat carbs, your blood sugar level rises anywhere from a little to a lot. The GI (Glycemic Index) uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher numbers given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar.

What do high-GI foods do to my body? They cause the body to produce higher levels of insulin, but sometimes too much. This gives you an energy burst known as a “sugar rush.” It feels good at first, but then your blood sugar drops rapidly and you “crash.” Eating low-GI foods is a smart way to avoid this, because they stabilize your blood sugar levels instead of spiking them.

What kind of high-GI foods to steer away from and why:

Foods with a high GI (above 70) include white bread, pretzels, potatoes, and most processed foods. Eating these foods triggers a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, which:

  • Encourages the body to store fat

  • Creates a cycle of hunger pangs and feeling unsatisfied

  • Causes an energy crash that leaves you irritated or tired

  • Can lead to high blood pressure, fluid retention and diabetes

In contrast, foods with a low GI (under 55)—like broccoli, oatmeal, peanuts, and Shakeology—help stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, which:

  • Increases levels of glycogen, a hormone that causes body fat to be burned

  • Helps satisfy feelings of hunger

  • Helps balance moods

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease, helps control diabetes, and positively affects the aging process

So you see, eating low-GI foods like Shakeology is good for you! Shakeology’s GI rating of 24 is much lower than most fruits and some vegetables. Low-GI foods keep your sugar levels in check while supplying nutrition that satisfies, energizes, and helps promote good health!

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5 Ways to Boost Your Willpower and Beat Temptation

Guest Post By Kara Wahlgren 

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m the first person to curse my weak willpower when I find myself polishing off a bag of tortilla chips or skipping a Piloxing class. But I may have to find a new excuse, because apparently I—and maybe you too—have gotten the whole idea of willpower completely wrong.

Most of us believe that willpower is some innate, magical quality that only a lucky few are born with enough of to reach the goals they set for themselves. But according to scientists and psychologists who specialize in this sort of thing, what we call “willpower” is actually just a one-two punch of self-control and smart decision–making strategies.

On one hand, that’s bad news for anyone—ahem, me—who likes to use lack of willpower as an excuse for falling off the weight loss wagon. On the other hand, it’s good news because it means you can hone your willpower like any other skill. And, just like doing push-ups, it gets easier the more you do it. Here are five easy ways to tap into your willpower (or whatever you want to call it).

1. Change how you define willpower

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You have it or you don’t, right? Wrong. Instead of thinking of willpower as a genetic gift, think of it as a game plan. “Instead of saying, ‘I have no willpower,’ ask yourself how to handle the situation,” says registered dietitian Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D., and author ofDiabetes Weight Loss—Week by Week. Think you just can’t give up your soda habit? Can’t stick to a gym routine? Can’t make yourself eat veggies? Think again. “When my patients say, ‘I can’t,’ they usually mean, ‘I choose not to,’ or, ‘I haven’t yet figured out how to,'” Weisenberger says. “There is a solution to most problems. You have to look for it and then practice that strategy.” Another fun fact? Through his research, willpower expert Roy Baumeister discovered that those who believe willpower is finite tend to run out of it. Those who believe that willpower is not a limited resource continue to be able to tap into it when they need it. Believe in your willpower, find a few strategies that work for you to set yourself up for success, and voilá, you’ll have the willpower you need.

2. Set yourself up for success

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You’ve probably heard the adage that luck is where preparation meets opportunity. The same can be said for willpower—a little prep work can help you make healthy choices. “One of the best things you can do is create an environment that will help you be successful,” says Mitzi Dulan, R.D., coauthor ofThe All-Pro Diet. “Avoid buying chips and cookies. If you buy chocolate, buy bite-size.” Look at it this way—if you can resist buying chips at the grocery store, you only have to resist temptation once. If you buy the chips, you’ll have to resist temptation every single time you walk past your kitchen.

3. Respect your R&R

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In House of Cards, Kevin Spacey’s character Frank Underwood quips, “I never make big decisions so long after sunset and so far before dawn.” Sure, Underwood is a manipulative villain, but it’s not a bad strategy—lack of sleep can impair your ability to make smart decisions. “Both stress and sleep deprivation affect hormones that may impact our appetite and food choices,” Weisenberger says. “Adequate sleep and appropriate stress management aren’t optional—they are as critical as eating your fruits and vegetables and being physically active.” No matter how busy you are, make sure you get a good night’s sleep and carve out a few minutes each day to de-stress. It can make a world of difference to your willpower.

4. Keep your sugar in check

Woman About to Eat a Donut

It’s harder to stick to your diet when you’re hungry—not exactly breaking news, right? But it’s not just pure hunger that’s getting in your way, or else you’d be just as satisfied with a handful of carrots as a handful of cookies. The real problem is that glucose levels seem to play a big role in self-control, so the hungrier you get, the harder it becomes to choose healthy foods over calorie-laden comfort foods. Last year, Baumeister wrote in the APA Monitor on Psychology that low glucose levels can reduce self-control—so eat before you’re famished if you want to improve your odds of resisting junk-food faves.

Oddly enough, Baumeister found that it also works the other way around—exercising self-control can actually lower your glucose levels. It’s possible that the more decisions you have to make, the more your glucose levels dip, and the harder it is to make a healthy choice the next time. In other words, resisting that donut on your commute to work might make it harder to walk past the candy dish in the office, or turn down greasy takeout at lunch. So rather than relying on sheer self-control, see if you can find ways to avoid tempting situations—for example, find a route to work that doesn’t pass your favorite bakery. That way, you’ll have plenty of willpower left for the temptations you can’t avoid.

5. Focus on tomorrow’s goal, not today’s mistakes

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When you’re on a weight loss regimen, it’s easy to obsess over the occasional slip-up—a high-calorie snack here, a skipped workout there—and lose sight of your long-term goal. But the ability to rally after a setback may be more important than the ability to make virtuous decisions all the time. Angela Duckworth, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, coined the term “grit” for people who stay focused on a long-term goal, come hell or high water. “The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon,” Duckworth said in a 2007 study. “Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.”

So the next time you’re tempted to curse your lack of willpower, remember that self-control is a skill—and like any skill, you’ll screw up a few times while you’re learning it. What’s important is that you keep going. “Determine your weak areas or obstacles and make a plan to overcome them. Put your plan into practice, evaluate it and adjust it if necessary. And expect to stray from the plan and know that you can keep moving forward”.

Antioxidants…Why We Need ‘Um!

Antioxidants are surrounded by a lot of hype. They are touted as everything from disease fighters to memory protectors to the antidote to aging. So what are antioxidants? Why are they important? What is the best way to get them in your diet? 

Antioxidants help fight oxidation, a normal chemical process that takes place in the body every day. Oxidative stress and free radical damage to cells is harmful because it may initiate the early stages of cancer and heart disease. Eating foods rich in antioxidants help fight the oxidation and free radical damage plus, they also help you look and feel younger by helping to slow down the aging process and help to prevent cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases. Finally, an added bonus is that they also help to speed up the recovery from exercise which means more muscle and less fat on your body!

Health organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research recommend eating between five and nine servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables every day.

Shakeology meets this recommendation and more because it contains some of the most potent antioxidants on the planet: flavonoids and phytonutrients such as spinach, blue green algae, carrot powder, strawberry powder, and vitamins E and C. All of these help to prevent free radicals from oxidizing and destroying cells. In addition, the ingredients in our antioxidant blend such as pomegranate, acai berry, camu-camu, goji, and blueberry also have powerful antioxidant effects to support your immune system and help protect your body from normal inflammatory response.

So the bottom line is to choose your foods wisely to help prevent healthy-aging as well as cellular health from the stress of oxidation on your cells. Your cells need a variety of antioxidants to fight the destructive little molecules that wage war in the body daily and Shakeology, as well as a well-rounded diet of fruits and vegetables, can help do exactly that!

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Spotlight on Shakeology Ingredient: Moringa

Via The Shakeology Blog

Say hello to moringa, one of the latest additions to the cornucopia of superfoods found in Shakeology! This amazing plant—sometimes called the horseradish tree or the drumstick tree—has been used medicinally the world over dating back the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians. Moringa is known to promote energy, vitality, athletic performance and weight loss while also promoting a healthy immune system to keep you super healthy. And while all this ancient wisdom is fantastic, this magic shrub can hold its own when looked at from a modern nutritional point of view too.

Although the entire tree is edible, we just use the chlorophyll-rich leaves for Shakeology, which you’ll find packed with vitamins A and C, as well as potassium, iron, and zinc. You’ll also find 96 active phytochemicals and 35 active antioxidants, including superoxide dismutase (SOD), an enzyme especially effective at combating damage done by superoxide, a common free radical.

You’ll also find 18 essential amino acids, including the 9 essential to human life, making it a great addition to any vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian diet. (Although it’s still great for you even if you’re a carnivore.)

See what we mean? The research on moringa goes beyond indigenous folklore. While moringa originated in the foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India, it is grown and farmed throughout the tropics around the world. We source ours primarily from Senegal, due largely to the research of Dr. Lowell Fuglie, arguably the world’s foremost expert on the crop. “Dr. Fuglie found out the soil qualities, the mineral qualities, the temperature, the climate were the best in Senegal,” explained Shakeology co-creator Darin Olien, “and he went all over the world! Also, the labor issues in Senegal are solid and the relative cost is cheaper for us but they get a higher wage than in the other commodities. So you’ve got all those things.”

All in all, moringa is a wonderfully complex supplement and that’s why we chose to include it in the new ‘Superfood Formula’ blend of Chocolate Shakeology. It is one of the 4 new superfoods in the new formula plus the 3 you know from Tropical Strawberry Shakeology: Coconut Flower Nectar, Luo Han Guo, and Himalayan salt. Try it out, let us know what you think and most importantly, take note of the newfound benefits moringa brings you!

Read even more about the science and benefits of this newest superfood ingredient from a thorough study out of Johns Hopkins University at: http://moringamalunggay.com/John_Hopkins.pdf.

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Snacks Under 100 Calories

Although some of you may feel guilty about snacking, know this; snacks aren’t necessarily bad as long as you choose the right snack. In fact, well timed healthy snacks helped me reach my weight loss goals. You may be asking yourself which snacks should you eat? Select foods that satisfy your hunger, supply your body with energy and provide important nutrients.

I’ve compiled a list of 30 healthy snacks under 100 calories: *Always buy organic*

  • Grapes: 1 cup (62 calories)

  • Popcorn: 2 cups, air popped. (62 calories)

  • Raspberries: 1 cup (64 calories)

  • Tangerine: 1 (47 calories)

  • Pear: 1 (86 calories)

  • Peach: 1 (58 calories)

  • Mango: 1 cup (99 calories)

  • Apple: 1 (77 calories)

  • Broccoli: 1 cup (58 calories)

  • Cashews: 10 (91 calories)

  • Cherries: 19 raw (98 calories)

  • Watermelon: 2 cups cubed (94 calories)

  • Organic Free Range Egg: 1 hard boiled (70 calories)

  • Almonds: about 14 unsalted, skin on (98 calories)

  • Baby Carrots: 30 pieces (72 calories)

  • Strawberries: 1 cup (77 calories)

  • Kiwis: 2 medium (84 calories)

  • Peanuts: about 20 (96 calories)

  • Cheerios: about 1 cup (99 calories)

  • Blueberries: 1 cup (84 calories)

  • Banana: small/medium (about 95 calories)

  • Cucumber Slices with Hummus: 1 cup cucumber slices, 2 tbsp hummus (98 total calories)

  • Avocado: about 2 ounces (99 calories)

Top 10 Workout Songs August 2012

Music, the language of the soul, is as old as humanity. The therapeutic benefits of music can be traced back in time to ancient shamanistic rituals. Music, as tool of healing was recognized in the writings of Aristotle, Pythagoras and Plato. They believed that it can influence physical, emotional, cognitive and social well-being and improve quality of life. In fact, there have been many recent studies that show if you listen to music while exercising, your brain will probably work better too.

Here is my top 10 workout songs as of August 2012, enjoy!

#10 Phoenix – “Lisztomania”: This French band created a song that’s perfect to workout to; a feel-good hit that makes you tap your feet and curl those dumbbells (not at the same time!) 😉

#9 Florence & The Machine – “Spectrum (Say My Name) – Calvin Harris Remix: To be honest, the original version of this song is perfect; I just thought Calvin Harris did a really good job with this remix. Flo’s vocals overpower the music, whereas Calvin Harris’s beats compliment the vocals.

#8 The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy”: “This track moves like the album’s vintage Chevy namesake – a swift, sturdy hunk of all-American cool. Drummer Patrick Carney pounds out a hammer-of-the-gods backbeat while singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach peels off lean riffs and wails about a twisted affair (“You pull my heart out, and I don’t mind bleeding”), sounding like he’s practically frothing at the mouth.” – Rolling Stone Magazine

#7 Ok Go – “White Knuckles”: The sexy bass lines and the funky very upbeat danceable arrangement of this track make it a go to workout song. The video is really cool, you should YouTube it!

#6 Hot Chip – “Night And Day”: Lively and upbeat; this track will make you cut to some dance moves in between sets. NME say’s of Hot Chip, “Bass drums are manipulated expertly so they’re more like feelings than sounds, a steady thump living contentedly in your brain.”

#5 Walk The Moon – “Quesadilla”: First of all, I haven’t the slightest clue why it’s called “Quesadilla”; your guess is as good as mine. The opening drum sequence of this track is like taking a adrenaline shot, the drums come alive and wake me right up! Walk The Moon is currently being played by me on heavy rotation because of their huge, catchy choruses, danceable melodies, and poppy, life-affirming lyrics. Go give them a listen, you can thank me later.

#4 GroupLove – “Lovely Cup”: When I listen to GroupLove I can’t help but have a smile on my face. This track gives me a feeling of an undeniable zest for life, completely irresistible. If you ever get the chance to catch them live, do it!

#3 Awolnation – “People”: You might say this is an ideal song to run to with these lyics; “People, people. Have you heard the good news? There’s people, people. They’re running just like you. Today I say, it’s all that matters for now. For you and I. Wooo! So people, people. Make some good ol’ love.”

#2 Passion Pit – “Cry Like A Ghost”: Their fresh new album ‘Gossamer” hit the streets a week ago; and I haven’t been able to press the stop button ever since. This song in particular was immediately added to the SHREDFAT workout playlist. Go pick up their album, and enjoy!

#1 The Killers – “Runaways”: You didn’t think I’d go through the top 10 without mentioning The Killers did you? This is their new single from their upcoming album ‘Battle Born’, due for a September 2012 release. Last month I had the privilege of seeing The Killers perform live 4 times in 4 different states, in the span of 5 days. It was a truly epic experience. Now every time this song comes on during my workouts I relive those concert moments which get’s my heart racing, and me ready to push past my physical threshold.

You can view, listen and subscribe to my entire SHREDFAT workout playlist below. How cool is that!

Holy Produce Proliferation! 17 Ways to Prepare Extra Fruits and Veggies When You Have a Bumper Crop

Guest Post By Kim Kash 

Maybe your home garden had a bumper crop, so every mixing bowl in your kitchen is full of tomatoes. Or perhaps your neighbor, who has a green thumb and a propensity for random acts of kindness, showed up at your door with enough jalapeños to bring all of Mexico City to tears. Or was it that the zucchinis at the farmer’s market looked so beautiful that you got a little carried away and now don’t even have room in your fridge for the milk?

Either way, it’s easy for fruits and veggies to pile up come summertime. If you’re ready to run screaming and leave the whole pile to rot—don’t! Here are some ideas for making delicious things out of LOTS of produce.

Too Many Tomatoes

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Blender Tomato Sauce. Fill your blender 3/4 full of cored, quartered tomatoes—should be about a half dozen or so. Throw in a few cloves of garlic, a generous handful of basil leaves, and a small onion or a small bunch of green onions or scallions. Salt and pepper to taste, and blend with a little bit of olive oil, tasting and adding up to 1/2 cup to get a smooth but not oily consistency. When you stir this into fresh, hot pasta, the sauce will warm up just enough.

Roasted Tomatoes

Slice tomatoes in half or in big chunks. Arrange on one or more baking sheets. Add big handfuls of basil, cilantro, or spring onions, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes are wrinkly and soft, and herbs are completely wilted and disintegrating. Put into a bowl, and be sure to scrape all the oil and bits of herb off of the baking pan. Makes a great pasta sauce, bruschetta topping, or chunky topping for chicken, fish, or another cooked vegetable.

Tomato Salad

Mix a variety of colors and types of tomatoes, throw in some herbs, and add a simple oil and vinegar dressing and a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Just because it’s salad doesn’t mean it has to have lettuce in it.

Tomato Sauce

Yes, it’s obvious, but this is the Cadillac® method for using up a whole lot of tomatoes at once. Plus, tomato sauce freezes really well. There are too many recipes for us to recommend just one.

A Surplus of Summer Squash

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Grilled Squash

Thickly slice squash lengthwise and roast on the grill.

Summer Squash Bake

Slice or roughly chop a combination of summer squashes, enough to fill a baking dish. Add fresh herbs if you have them. Grate a layer of cheddar, jack, or even mozzarella on top, and use your fingers to sift a little bit of the cheese down into the vegetables. Sprinkle whole-grain breadcrumbs on top if you wish. Bake in a 350-degree oven until the vegetables are soft and the cheese is beginning to brown. Cover with foil if the cheese or breadcrumbs are browning too quickly. If the finished dish is a bit watery (some summer squashes are more watery than others when cooked), just serve with a slotted spoon.

Italian summer squash bake. Same as above, only add tomato sauce, and use mozzarella cheese.

Curried summer squash bake. Same as squash bake above, only omit the cheese and add a drained can of chickpeas, maybe some fresh greens, and 1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder to taste, depending on the quantity of squash you’re baking.

Your signature summer squash bake. Are you getting the idea about this squash bake thing? Summer squash is very mild in flavor, so it plays well with both eastern and western spices. Make a squash bake whenever you need to use up zucchini plus almost any other vegetable or herb or sauce or cheese.

Grate and freeze. Use later for zucchini fritters, zucchini bread, in frittatas, as a thickener for spaghetti sauce, or a filler in any kind of vegetable bake or casserole.

Bustin’ at the Seams with Basil

Pesto. Pesto. Pesto. You can use basil a few leaves at a time in Caprese salads or tomato sauce recipes. But if you need to use up a ton of basil in a hurry, pesto is what you want. Experiment with the many recipes out there—with or without cheese, with various kinds of nuts, with lots of olive oil or very little. Pesto stores beautifully in the fridge, in a tightly closed glass jar with a layer of olive oil covering it. Here’s what you can do with pesto:

  • Smear it on bruschetta.

  • Add it to green salads as a dressing.

  • Use it as a pasta sauce; this is great with cherry tomatoes tossed in.

  • Use it as a sandwich spread.

  • Top grilled or roasted chicken, fish, or vegetables with it.

  • Eat it with a spoon out of the jar.

A Cornucopia of Cucumbers

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Raita. This Indian cucumber-yogurt condiment can be thick like a dip, or thin like a sauce, depending on the thickness of the yogurt you use. Thick or thin, whip some yogurt with a whisk to even out its consistency. Then stir it into to a bowl of chopped and (optionally) peeled cucumbers. Add more or less yogurt as you wish. Salt it to taste. If you want a spicy raita, add a seeded, finely chopped hot pepper.

Cucumber water. Peel and slice one or more cucumbers and add to a pitcher of water. Squeeze in a little lemon juice, and serve very cold as a refreshing thirst quencher on a hot day.

Cucumber salad. This was on the supper table almost every summer day when my mother was a child in Kentucky. Very thinly slice cucumbers, pour a little bit of white vinegar over them, and salt. Some people also add a little sugar, but Mom would not approve. These are simple and delicious—but don’t put leftovers in the fridge for next time, because as they marinate in the vinegar, they lose their crispness.

A Big Bell Pepper Buildup

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Oven roast or grill. As with basil, there are plenty of recipes that call for one or a few red or yellow bell peppers. But when you have a real bell pepper glut, roasting them is the way to go. Take as many red and yellow bell peppers as you have and spread them on a hot grill, or on the top rack of the oven, set to broil. If you’re using the oven, line the peppers up on the front edge of the rack, and put a baking sheet underneath them to catch drips. When the skin blackens, give them a quarter turn with a good pair of tongs, and repeat until the peppers are charred all the way around. Then remove from the oven or grill and let rest. The charred skin will peel easily off of the cooled peppers. Core and slice the now-soft roasted peppers, coat the strips with olive oil, and store in a tightly closed container. Use these in pasta and on sandwiches and bruschetta.

Excessive Eggplantery

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Many recipes call for the notoriously spongy eggplant to be fried in oil. Roasting eggplant instead is much healthier, and roasting on the grill imparts a rich, smoky flavor. In addition to the recipes below, try adding roasted eggplant to casseroles and veggie burgers.

Baba ghanoush. This Middle Eastern dip is often served alongside hummus, with pita bread. Slash one or more eggplants in several places and bake on a pan in a 425-degree oven until very soft. This can take an hour or more, depending on the size of the eggplants. Cool, then peel off the skin. Throw the soft interior into a food processor. For each eggplant, add 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of tahini, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the juice from one lemon. Blend just until incorporated, leaving the texture a little rough. Salt to taste. To serve, make a little well on the top of the baba ghanoush and pour some olive oil into the depression. Sprinkle parsley over the top. (Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.)

Roasted eggplant salad. Roast eggplants as above, peel and roughly chop. Serve in a large salad bowl with toasted pine nuts or walnuts, lots of parsley, and mint. If you have too many tomatoes, chop and add a few of those. Dress with either a light vinaigrette or with a bit of whipped yogurt.

Resource:

  • American Heart Association: www.heart.org

  • Yu Wen Li, Zhao Ya Ping, Xue Zheng, Wang Da Pu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University); Study on Synergistic Effect of Two Antioxidants and Its Anti-ageing Properties [J]; China Oils and Fats; 2002

  • Haibo Wang, Muraleedharan G. Nair, Gale M. Strasburg, Yu-Chen Chang, Alden M. Booren, J. Ian Gray, and David L. DeWitt. Antioxidant and Antiinflammatory Activities of Anthocyanins and Their Aglycon, Cyanidin, from Tart Cherries. Journal of Natural Products 1999, 62 (2), pp 294-2

Wake-up Calls: 7 Ways to Boost Your Energy Without Caffeine

Guest Post By Lisa Palac 

For most, it happens in the late afternoon, usually between lunch and 6ish: that feeling of sluggish, low-energy brain-deadness that makes you want to call it quits for the day. Since that’s generally not an option, you reach for the next solution: the caffeine pick-me-up. Whether it’s coffee or tea or a yerba mate, many of us are in the habit of using caffeine to prop ourselves up during the draggiest part of the day. Of course, some of us—and you know who you are—go one step further and combine refined sugar and caffeine. Nothing like a Frappucino® and double fudge mini-donut to shake things up. It’s a slippery slope.

But what if you don’t want to be a Coffee Achiever? Maybe it’s getting in the way of sleep later that night. Or maybe you’ve done some research, weighed the pros and cons, and decided caffeine just isn’t your thing. How to break the cycle? Here are 7 healthy ways to pull yourself through an afternoon.

1. Get 15 minutes of exercise. Researchers at the University of Georgia found overwhelming evidence that regular exercise plays a significant role in increasing energy levels and reducing fatigue. “A lot of times when people are fatigued, the last thing they want to do is exercise,” said professor Patrick O’Connor, co-director of the UGA exercise psychology laboratory. “But if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help.” Take a power walk, take a quick run, do 15 sun salutes. Walk up and down the office stairs for 15 minutes. Jump rope for 3 minutes, then walk. The more active you can be in these 15 minutes, the better. Activity increases circulation, and circulation transports oxygen throughout the body, which in turn boosts our energy level.

2. Start breathing deeply. Conscious breathing is, perhaps, the easiest way to energize your body and improve mental clarity, among many other benefits. Breathing deeply provides your body with the oxygen it needs to increase energy and alertness. Dr. Andrew Weil, who has written extensively on the restorative power of the breath, suggests “The Stimulating Breath” as an energy booster. (It’s basically a mini-version of Kundalini yoga’s “Breath of Fire.”) Close your mouth, and breathe forcefully and rapidly in and out of your nose for 15 seconds, then breathe naturally. Alternately, you can sit up straight, on a ball if possible, roll your shoulders back and breathe deeply for 10 minutes, pausing on the inhale and then again on the exhale, as a way to simply become aware of your breath.

3. Eat some almonds. Here’s the amazing thing about almonds: they’re rich in protein and they contain magnesium, a mineral that helps convert sugar into energy. Magnesium also helps with immune support, restful sleep, stress relief and heightens mood. The almond is often considered a superfood because it’s high in calcium and vitamin E with zero cholesterol. If you can’t/won’t eat almonds, try cashews, walnuts, or pecans. Nut butters are also a good way to mix up the textures, preferably unsalted. If almonds are too hard on your teeth, try soaking them in water overnight before you eat them. It softens them just enough.

4. Crank up the music. Listening to your favorite fast song gets you pumped up and gives you a quick burst of energy, right? The music works on several physiological levels. One, music can raise your endorphin level. Endorphins are the biochemicals produced by our brains that both relieve pain and increase our sense of happiness.They’re the same chemicals responsible for “the runner’s high,” the euphoric feeling you get after a great workout.

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Two, music boosts your energy level by increasing blood flow. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore concluded that listening to your favorite music has a measurably positive effect on your cardiovascular system by expanding the inner lining of your blood vessels, which increases circulation.

**(Check out this months “TOP 10 WORKOUT SONGS“)**

5. Soak up the sun. Take a break and get out in the sunshine, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. The sun is a great source of vitamin D, a nutrient that’s essential for healthy bones and teeth, but research now suggests that vitamin D may help in preventing cancer, as well as regulating our moods, cognitive abilities, and energy levels. The sun also plays a huge role in our daily circadian rhythm, our body’s natural 24-hour sleep/awake cycle. When this cycle is thrown out of balance, it often leads to sleep loss and stress, which in turn leads to increased caffeine use.

6. Take a power nap. Cornell psychology professor James Maas coined the term “power nap” in his 1997 book, Power Sleep. In it, he recommends the daytime nap as a healthy, even necessary activity—but only if you don’t have trouble falling asleep at night.

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He also believes they are most effective when you take them at the same time every day, which is usually about 8 hours after you wake. Maas says 15 to 30 minutes is the optimal amount of time for a nap; any longer and you’ll enter a deep sleep which can leave you feeling groggy. He also provides these nap tips:

  • Turn off the lights, close the door, and get rid of other distractions.

  • Lying down on a couch, or chair with your feet up, is ideal, but any position including head down on your desk will do.

  • Set an alarm, so you can nap worry-free.

7. Take a Scottish shower. It’s what James Bond does, and look at the energy that guy has. In the Ian Fleming novels, Bond’s showers start out hot but finish with icy cold invigorating water. Commonly known as the Scottish shower, the idea is that alternating between hot and cold water improves cardiovascular circulation, which leads to feeling energized.

Head shower

Beyond youthful vigor, practitioners of the Scottish shower claim it keeps them younger-looking, too. In addition, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine found that short cold showers might even help relieve depression. If you want to give it a try, it’s simple: Spend four minutes in a hot shower, then slowly decrease the amount of hot water, until it’s pure cold. Enjoy the chill for at least two minutes.

If caffeine is your habit, it will require a bit of effort to replace it with other ways to lively up yourself. But the first step is simply becoming aware of all the other effective options available to you. And now you know. Welcome to your new, jitter-free, energized, oxygen-rich world.

My Top 10 Workout Songs March 2012

The right music at the right time can shift a negative mindset to a positive one. Music moves your soul/helps get your mind right.

Keeping up with our monthly ritual; I present to you our top 10 workout songs as of March 2012:

10- Of Monsters And Men –  “Little Talks”: This Icelandic six piece resembles a lot of other bands; Arcade Fire, Edward Sharpe, Mumford & Sons, and The XX come to mind. This song in particular has catchy rhythms and happy narrative lyrics. I find myself shouting “Hey!”, give this song a listen and you will too.

9- Wolf Gang –  “The King And All Of His Men”: Their debut album ‘Suego Faults’ has been on my music rotation for weeks now. This track in particular is pop-tastic! It sounds like an instant “radio hit”.

8- The Rapture – “Whoo! Alright – Yeah…Uh Huh”: This indie-rock band from New York City has been making hipsters dance for years now. They have an aggressive guitar/funk sound that’s really fun to listen to.

7- The Airborne Toxic Event – “Missy”: It’s actually kind of funny because when this song comes on during my workout I STOP working out and I START dancing; I just can’t help myself. I’m going to say this once again; if you haven’t heard of The Airborne Toxic Event, give them a listen and thank me later. They are that GREAT.

6- Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – “Zero”: Lead singer Karen O’s voice is mesmerizing. This song is awesome right from the opening line, “Shake it like a ladder to the sun, Makes me feel like a madman on the run”. It’s an electro-rock whoop that will make you shout You’re a zero-ohh!

5- Foster The People – “Helena Beat”: Want some good music to dance to? Quick, play some FTP! These guys get me “pumped up” during workouts! I love the high-pitched falsetto vocals of Mark Foster in this fun, synth-rock track.

4- The Killers – “Read My Mind – Pet Shot Boys Stars Are Blazing Mix”: Truth is, you could never go wrong with a Killers song; no matter what mood you are in they will scratch that itch every single time. This remix has an 80’s vibe to it courtesy of The Pet Shot Boys.

3- Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”: If you didn’t know any better you might mistaken this band for The Smashing Pumpkins, but listen closely and you will see that they have their own unique sound. The guitar riffs alone make this track jump my list. It has an epic build up that makes me want to push harder.

2- Walk The Moon “Anna Sun”: The best way to describe this track would be unique, but easily relate-able. Their sound is an infectious blend of indie rock and indie pop. The hook of this song is gigantic and so much fun to sing along to!

1- Arctic Monkeys “R U Mine?”: It kicks off with a thumping drum intro and a dangerously waving guitar riff. NME magazine describes this song as “a riff-tastic, 70’s-indebted monster”. The music video is really cool, make sure to check that out.

You can view, listen and subscribe to my entire SHREDFAT workout playlist below. How cool is that!