Sunday, November 17, 2019

How to Enjoy Alcoholic Beverages Without Getting Fat During the Holidays!




The holidays are a time of celebration, and assuming you do NOT have a problem with alcohol and can drink responsibly, it is okay to imbibe!    The key to not getting fat from alcohol is to understand the calorie and carb content of alcoholic beverages and plan your intake ahead of time in terms of exactly what you chose to drink and how much you have.   

All alcoholic beverages tend to drive insulin production so they are big no, no for diabetics and other people taking certain medications.   ALWAYS check for drug and alcohol interactions before drinking any alcoholic beverage.

It is also important to understand that in addition to the alcohol content itself alcoholic beverages are often full of sugar which further drives insulin and fat production.    The good news is that there ARE alcoholic beverages that are much lower in sugar/carb and calories.

Champagne

One of the best deals for a low carb holiday beverage is champagne!   Champagnes have the lowest carb and calorie content of any wine so are a great choice – particularly dryer champagnes.   A 4-ounce serving contains just 1.6 grams of carb and only 84 calories making Champagne the best choice for holiday cheer!

Common White Wines

After Champagnes the next best choice is white wines (NOT including ANY dessert wines!)

Per 5 Ounce Serving Size:

Chardonnay -   120 calories and 3.43 grams of carb
Sauvignon Blanc – 120 calories and 3 grams of carb
Reisling – 120 calories and 5.54 grams of carb
Pinot Grigio – 122 calories and 3 grams of carb

Common Red Wines

Merlot – 118 calories and   grams of carb
Cabernet Sauvignon – 130 calories and 3.82 grams of carb
Burgundy – 122 calories and 5.46 grams of carb
Pinot Noir – 116 calories and 4 grams of carb
Shiraz – 116 calories and 3.79 grams of carb

Low Carb Beers

Bud Select 55 – 55 calories with only 1.9 grams of carb
Miller64 – 64 calories with 2.4 grams of carb
Michelob Ultra – 95 calories with 2.62 grams of carb
Becks Premier Light – 64 Calories with 3.2 grams of carb
Miller Light – 96 calories with 3.2 grams of carb
Amstel Light – 95 calories with 5 grams of carb
Coors Light – 102 calories with 5 grams of carb
Bud Light – 110 calories with 6.6 grams of carb

Mixed Drinks

Liquor such as gin, vodka, scotch and rum, but are full of calories and to some extent act as a “super” carb driving insulin and hunger.    That being said they do not contain any carb whatsoever so as long as you mix them with no sugar/calorie mixers you can keep your carb and calorie intake somewhat under control.

One of the best choices is Vodka and Soda Water with Lime or Lemon coming in with zero carbs and about 100 calories!   Other examples are whiskey and diet coke, Seagrams 7 and Diet 7-up, Rum and diet cola, or Spiced Rum and Diet Ginger Ale.

What to avoid!

Watch those mixers when it comes to mixed drinks – most standard mixers such as all sodas, fruit juices, and tonic are full of sugar unless you use the diet versions.      All your Caribbean and Tropical drinks such as Pina Coladas, Daquireis, Mai Tai’s, and Margaritas, etc are chock full of sugar and calories.

Set a Budget for Your Intake!

Set a budget on your intake of alcoholic beverages and actually keep track as you drink them making a point of knowing how much you have had each hour.     Remember each beer, glass of wine, and mixed drink takes one hour to process for the average male (and longer for females) so anything above 1 per hour is getting you inebriated at some level.   

In addition to budgeting your intake drink a glass of non-alcoholic, no calorie beverage such as water or club soda for each drink/beer/glass of wine you have to slow yourself down and stay hydrated.

If you want to catch a buzz drink your limit and switch to all non-alcoholic beverages for 2 – 4 hours before driving.     

Even better – get a designated driver or use Uber or Lyft for travel to and from Holiday Parties!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

How to Eat Healthy While Travelling Over the Holidays



‘Tis the season again – we are entering that infamous Thanksgiving through New Years stretch where the average American will gain 8 – 12lbs!    One of the main reasons for this is that we get out of our normal routines for both exercise and diet.     It is even more challenging if you are travelling during this season because you are out of your home and have less control over your exercise and eating habits.

However, where there is a will there is a way.      Here are some key tips to prevent weight gain during travel:

1.      Plan your meals and your exercise.    This is probably the most important tip because with a little planning you CAN eat healthy and get in your exercise.

2.    Start by looking at your travel schedule and planning your meals during travel.     We all know how lousy the food is on an airline so instead of being subjected to the lousy and unhealthy food bring your own.     In many airports today, there are plenty of healthy options that you can purchase and carry on the plane.     Great options include:

a.       Nuts – see below

b.       Ready to drink shakes like Muscle Milk (even starting to see this in an organic option in airports!).

c.       Nutrition bars – see below

d.       Hard boiled eggs

e.       Salads with chicken

3.     Even better buy non-perishable food before you leave home.      Excellent choices for meals and snacks that are easy to travel with include:

a.      Nuts – come in cans and pouches with smaller packages being ideal because while nuts are healthy they are high in fats and even healthy fats have lots of calories!    No honey glazed and if you need to be concerned about salt stick with unsalted, roasted nuts.    Best choices include pecans and walnuts and Brazil nuts followed by almonds, then peanuts and cashews in terms of sugar content.

b.       Nutrition bars – there are a ton of healthier bar choices now, and they have actually figured out how to make a healthy bar that tastes pretty darned good without a ton of sugar that have high levels of fiber, healthy fats, and protein.      Several variety of Kind bars fit this bill including Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt; Caramel Almond and Sea Salt; and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan.    These bars taste great and will satisfy you and travel well.

c.       Ready to mix shakes – there are many great options for shakes that are low in sugar and high in protein that taste great and come in packets that are easy to mix in a plastic shake bottle after you add water.      Gone are the days where these options must be blended in a blender.      Experiment a bit and you can find shakes that come in single serve packets that mix quite well in a plastic shaker bottle.

d.       If you are driving, consider bringing some pre-made meals in a cooler that are either ready to eat cold or can easily be microwave or baked when you arrive.     When you bring some of your own food and healthy desserts you know you will have good options!

4.      Focus on a great breakfast because you can get eggs in every town in America both at restaurants and in people’s homes.    Eggs are fantastic nutrition that really satisfy, and they can be prepared in many different ways.    Starting the day off with 2 – 3 whole eggs along with some sauteed vegetables, some cheese and some berries will keep your hunger at bay and provide a healthy meal that is easy to come by!

5.    Get your exercise in!    Plan before you leave – worst case you can use resistance bands and get a great workout in a very small physical space such as a hotel room.     You can also do highly effective body weight workouts while on the go and another fantastic choice for travel exercise is a suspension trainer like TRX or Core Flytes -  https://www.amazon.com/Core-Flyte-Pro-Performance-Rock-Solid/dp/B00K6MKM00 

      For resistance bands and workouts with them check out www.resistancebandtraining.com For a great bodyweight workout try this one: https://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-three-best-bodyweight-exercise.html

6.    Go for a walk and check out the neighborhood or go see some nearby sites.     Sitting on your butt all day while food is being prepared all around you is asking for trouble!   Get up and get out and active for part of the day or offer to do some shopping for the group or pitch in with some of the physical chores if you are staying at someone’s home.

      So while it is easy to gain weight during travel over the holidays – with a little planning you can come through with little to no weight gain or even lose a pounds or two over the holidays!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

How Much Exercise Does It Take to Burn Off Halloween Candy?







In the big picture of weight loss it is not what we do on the occasional holiday that really determines our weight it is the week in week out eating and drinking habits that determine our weight.   That being said if you are not careful you can eat/drink a ton of calories in one day which then turns into weeks of too many calories during the holidays starting with Halloween.

The key is to plan and know what you are eating!   Candy can be confusing because of all the different snack sizes that are so prevalent during Halloween.      It is very easy to assume because you are eating snack size candy that it is not that bad, and this is true if you are not eating too many pieces!    Before you eat candy see how many calories you are eating – it takes less than a minute to google calorie, sugar, and fat content for just about any common Halloween Candy.

Here are some examples:

Nestle’s Crunch Bar (60 calories)               6 minutes of brisk aerobic exercise to burn off!

Kit Kat Bar (70 calories)                             8 minutes of brisk aerobic exercise to burn off!

4 Snickers Mini Bar (170 calories)             18 minutes of high intensity exercise to burn off!

Full Size Twix Bar (80 calories)                 6 minutes of continuous kettlebell swings to burn off!

4.2 Oz Candy Corn (450 calories)              4 – 5 miles of walking to burn off!

2 Peanut Butter Cups (210 Calories)          2 miles of running to burn off!

So eating a little candy is no big deal, BUT if you are not watching how many pieces/containers you eat you can quickly rack up a ton of calories that would take more than an hour of vigorous exercise to burn off!

Plan your candy intake and know what you are going to eat and enjoy it!   The other key is have candy after a meal so you are not really hungry –

Sunday, October 27, 2019

How to Adjust to the Fall Time Change




It’s that time of year again – time to fall back and set our clocks back one hour.      Resetting clocks in devices is simple.    Unfortunately, your body clock is not nearly as easy to reprogram.    This comes with some serious health consequences.  An hour time shift does not seem like a lot, but your body runs on a tight schedule and this one-hour change throws us off.
Scientists have documented that the shift to daylight saving time in the spring, when we lose an hour of sleep, is linked to an a much higher rate of attacks and car accidents.  Although we gain an hour to sleep – the change throws off the sleep cycle and that is where all the problems come from.

Over the last 20 years, scientists have documented that, in addition to the master clock in our brains, every cell in our body has a circadian rhythm and time-keeping mechanism. The body and cell’s circadian rhythm help regulate important functions such as sleep and metabolism. And increasingly, there's evidence that when our habits — such as when we eat and sleep — are out of sync with our internal clocks, it can harm us.

When we disrupt our routines with erratic sleep or eating habits, it can increase the risk of metabolic disease. For instance, overnight shift workers are at much higher risk of developing diabetes and obesity. Research also shows that kids who don't have set bedtimes and mealtimes are also more likely to become overweight.

As days get shorter with less daylight, it's easy to fall into bad habits, and light exposure is key to regulating circadian rhythm.     It is the primary signal to turn on the body’s metabolic processes for sleep and rest to active and alert.
How to prepare for the dark days
Go to bed an hour or so earlier and get up 8 hours later. Maximize your exposure to daylight in the morning hours, since it gets dark so early in the evening.

Minimize Nighttime light

Exposure to light and electromagnetic fields from computers, phones, tablets, and T.V.’s all act as a stimulant, so it is important to minimize nighttime light exposure and blue light exposure in particular.  Blue light comes from artificial lighting.   Blue wavelengths – which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood – are disruptive at night.   Energy efficient lighting is packed with blue light as our electronics.

So try to turn off lights and if you must use a computer get a blue light filtering program that will adjust the amount of blue light emitted by your computer, phone, and tablets such as flux – https://justgetflux.com and the Twilight app for your phone.   Both allow you to set times and adjust blue light output of your devices automatically based on time of day!  You can also buy blue blocking glasses to use in the evening.   This may seem gimmicky but there is very well done research supporting the effectiveness of reducing blue light in the evening through these and other measures!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Is Diet Soda Really Worse For You than Regular Soda?


A recently published study looked at this question and was all over the media.     What did the study conclude?  It concluded that drinking 2 or more sodas per day (of any type of soda) was associated with a 17% increase in mortality.    Further the study concluded that regular (non-diet) soda drinkers were 8% more likely to die at follow-up than those that consumed less than one glass per day.

Those people that drank two or more artificially sweetened sodas were 26% more likely to die at follow up than those who drank less than one diet soda per day.   Seems pretty simple right – clearly diet soda is WAY worse than regular soda and all soda is bad, but is that really the story?

When we look at the study itself in more detail the picture is not so clear!    First of all, the study involved giving people ONE questionnaire on their average daily soda intake at the beginning of a 16-year study.       This is a big problem because self-reported intake is notoriously inaccurate and assuming that people kept their soda intake fixed for 16 years is a whopper of an assumption as well.

Another problem is that the study cannot account for what are known as “confounding variables” meaning things like smoking and alcohol use or other unhealthy behaviors.   The study attempted to “guess” at the levels of these unhealthy behaviors by using statistics, but the fact is that no one knows who did what in the observational study.     

This is a big problem because it may in fact be the case that most people drinking soda were engaged in unhealthy behaviors like smoking, high alcohol consumption, and/or lack of activity.     So, it could be that people who drink sodas tend to have more unhealthy behaviors and the increased death rates may have nothing to do with soda!

Last but not least lets take a look at “absolute risk” rather than relative risk which is ALWAYS important.     Here is how that works.    In the study out of 225,543 people who reported less than a glass per month of artificially sweetened beverages at baseline, there were 21,032 deaths at follow-up.  In other words, 9.3% died.    For the 6,292 people that reportedly drank two or more glasses of Artificially Sweetened Beverages per day at baseline, there were 737 deaths at follow-up.    So in this group 11.7% died.

This works out to a RELATIVE risk increase of 26% calculated as follows: subtracting the lower death rate of 9.3% from the higher death rate of 11.7% (11.7% - 9.3% =  2.4%).   Then dividing the 2.4% absolute difference by 9.3% (2.4% divided by 9.3%= 26% difference in RELATIVE risk).

Sounds like a big deal right?   Not so fast – lets take a look at the ABSOLUTE risk or raw numbers.  The absolute risk is the difference between 11.7% of the heavy soft drinkers died vs 9.3% of those who drank less than one per day.   As above 11.7% - 9.3% is 2.4%.   So the ABSOLUTE risk is only 2.4%.     Pretty insignificant isn’t it?

So long story short soda should probably be treated like other lifestyle issues – in moderation!     By the way calories DO count and sugar has real calories, but diet soda does not.    Is this a license to drink lots of diet soda – NO!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Quercetin for Allergies and Viral Infections


For much of the country allergy sufferers are at their peak of suffering, but the good news is that there is a well-proven nutritional supplement that can help mitigate allergy symptoms without the side effects of over the counter (OTC) antihistamines.    Unfortunately these OTC drugs are not without issues including being linked to the progression of dementia (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/common-anticholinergic-drugs-like-benadryl-linked-increased-dementia-risk-201501287667)

Research on Quercetin

Quercetin is an flavanol found in apples, plums, red grapes, green tea, elder flower, and onions to name a few.   In addition to acting as an effective antihistamine quercetin is proven to be highly effective for the treatment and prevention of viral infections such as the common cold and the flu. 

In fact, a 2007 study from Appalachian State University researchers did a study funded by the Department of Defense.   The study used had 40 cyclists divided into two groups with one group receiving 1,000 mg per day along with vitamin C and niacin while the other group got a placebo.
They had the athletes ride a bicycle for three hours per day, three days in a row.    45 percent of the placebo group contracted a viral illness after the physical stress compared to just 5 percent of the quercetin supplement group.

In a 1985 Study, researchers found that quercetin reduces the infectivity and replication of Herpes Simplex Type 1, Polio-Virus Type 1, and parainfluenza type 3 along with respiratory syncytial virus.

A 2016 Study found that quercetin inhibited a wide range of influenza strains including H1N1, H3N2, and H5N1. 

How Quercetin inhibits viruses:

Inhibiting a virus’s ability to infect other cells (viruses literally infect your cells then take control of them and make them produce more virus!)

Inhibiting replication of already infected cells

Reducing infected cell’s resistance to treatment with anti-viral medication

Quercetin Supplements

In collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) a supplement called “Q-Force” was developed that is proven to:

Increase Mental Alertness
Strengthen the Immune System
Provide Sustained Energy
Reduce Oxidative Stress and Muscle Soreness Post Exercise

Q-force is available at www,qforce.com and Quercetin Supplements combined with Vitamin C are available at all health food stores.   



Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Power of Vertical Training


Vertical training allows low impact, unloading and decompressive exercises and can reduce the frequency of chronic joint symptoms.      There is also strong evidence that range of motion is improved with reduction in pain.

Vertical training is also extremely effective for burning fat, and a study proved that vertical training has the highest caloric expenditure of just about any other workout along with an extremely high post-exercise increase in metabolic rate resulting in an average afterburn of an additional 489 calories burned over the 24 hours following a Vertical High Intensity Interval Training Workout.

What is Vertical Training?

Vertical training was initially developed, tested and validated by a company called Fitwall (www.fitwall.com).   Fitwall equipment includes a ladder/step like device hooked to the wall that exercises are done on.   However other simpler ladder type devices attached to the wall like the exercise ladders used for gymnastics and Barre Classes have been developed.

The fact is you can easily reap the same benefits just performing the exercises on a 
ladder attached to a wall.    The key is being vertical – not just up-sloping. 

What are Vertical Training Exercises?

Vertical Training Exercises occur with either 3 or 4 anchor points on the vertical access which causes a strong activation of the trunk stabilization muscles).

To get a feel for this programming check out this video of a Vertical HIIT Class:  https://www.facebook.com/balancedathletefitnessstudios/videos/1775624019356609/ 

and this video showing a great series of simple, yet highly effective vertical training exercises:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd9jj9NImRQ

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Is Animal Fat Really Bad for You?


When people think of animal fat – they tend to fall into one of two camps:

Animal Fat is Artery-clogging and the cause of all problems with diets.

Animal Fat is the key to managing weight and having a healthy diet

The facts about plant and animal fats
Like many aspects of diet and nutrition the facts behind animal and plant fats and effects on health and weight management are much more complex than the two points of view expressed above.

Fat is not just for insulation and energy storage, it’s also for nutrient absorption, cell signaling, immune function, and many other critical processes. Many people think the main difference between plant and animal fats is that animal-sourced foods contain more saturated fat, but that is NOT the case – nor is it is a sample as saying saturated fat is bad.    Here are some key facts about fat that may surprise you:

1. All whole plant and animal foods naturally contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats.

2. Some plant foods are higher in saturated fat than animal foods, with coconut oil topping the charts at 90 percent saturated fat. That’s more than twice the saturated fat found in beef fat (tallow).

3. The primary type of fat found in pork is a monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid, the exact same fat found in olive oil.

Essential Fatty Acids
There are essential fatty acids that humans cannot manufacture and therefore must be obtained from your diet and they fall into three categories:

·       Omega 3 Fatty Acids – in plants the Omega 3 fatty acid is called Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA for short).

·       In fish and animals the Omega 3 Fatty Acids come in the form of EPA/DHA


·       The essential dietary omega-6 is called Linoleic Acid (LA for short).

What often goes unsaid is that both ALA and LA are found in a wide variety of both plant and animal foods, so it is rather easy to obtain both of these fats, regardless of your dietary preferences, so long as you are including enough fat in your diet.

But here’s the rub: Our bodies cannot use ALA and LA in our cells. ALA and LA are considered upstream/”parent” fatty acids, because they are used to manufacture the form of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids our cells can use: EPA, DHA, and AA—none of which exist in plant foods!.

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is an omega-3 that serves primarily anti-inflammatory and healing functions.

AA (arachidonic acid) is an omega-6 often thought of as a “bad” fatty acid, because it promotes inflammation. But inflammation is an important and necessary part of a healthy immune response and AA has many other crucial responsibilities, and even promotes healing.

DHA – (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 that has many important functions – particularly in our brains.    Our brains are extremely rich in fat. About two-thirds of the human brain is fat, and a full 20 percent of that fat is DHA.

Among many other functions, DHA participates in the formation of myelin, the white matter that insulates our brain circuits and nerves. It also helps maintain the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, which keeps the brain safe from unwanted outside influences.

DHA is critical to the development of the human cortex—the part of the brain responsible for higher-order thinking. Without DHA, the highly sophisticated connections necessary for sustained attention, and decision-making do not form properly     

DHA and Fetal/Neonatal Brain Development and Health
The most rapid phase of development of the infant cortex takes place form the third trimester of pregnancy through Age Two.  If there is not enough DHA available during this time, there can be severe and irreversible consequences. For example, a higher likelihood of psychiatric disorders including those that tend to show up early in life like Autism and ADHD.

Plant foods contain absolutely no DHA
For those who choose vegan diets, it is important to know that plant foods contain no DHA. The omega-3 fatty acid found in plant foods like flax, walnut, and chia is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Unfortunately, it appears to be rather difficult for the majority of adults to make DHA out of ALA, with most studies finding a conversion rate of less than 10%.    Quite a few studies show ZERO conversion, and there are genetic variations that allow a small percentage of people to convert very well while for the majority there is little to no conversion.

Indeed, it appears that the fewer animal foods we eat (fish IS an animal for this discussion), the lower our DHA levels tend to be    DHA levels are on average 31% lower in vegetarians and 59% lower in Vegans compared to Omnivores.

When it comes to children under 2, the science is clear that the conversion pathway from ALA to DHA cannot and should not be relied upon to keep pace with the DHA demands of the rapidly growing body and brain. Therefore, most experts agree that caretakers should provide infants and very young children with dietary or supplemental sources of DHA, as ALA alone is not sufficient to support healthy infant development.

It has been estimated that as many as 80 percent of Americans have sub-optimal blood levels of DHA.

Include animal-sourced DHA foods in your diet if you can

The easiest way to obtain DHA is to include some fatty fish in your diet, but as you can see from the list below, there are other options.   

Sardines – 2,205 mg per serving
Wild Salmon – 1,800 mg per serving
Oysters – 613 mg per serving
Herring - 3,181 mg per serving
Anchovies – 951 mg per serving
Cavier – 1,906 mg per serving
Mussels – 506 mg per serving
Egg – 60 mg per egg yolk (only in yolks!)
DHA Fortified (chickens fed fish feed) – 168mg per egg
Chicken Meat Roasted – 30 mg per serving
Turkey Breast Roasted – 30 mg per serving
Lamb Roasted – 10 mg per serving
Shrimp cooked – 10 mg per serving

Minimize consumption of vegetable oils
Nearly all processed foods, prepared hot foods, packaged snacks, and convenience foods are made with refined vegetable oils, such as soybean or sunflower oil. Most vegetable oils are extremely, unnaturally high in LA (linoleic acid), an omega-6 fatty acid that reduces the production and effectiveness of DHA within your body. Excess linoleic acid drives systemic inflammation. Your best plant oil choices are olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or red palm oil.  

Lowering your vegetable oil intake increases the availability of DHA in your body, decreasing your need for dietary and/or supplemental DHA. The presence of high amounts of linoleic acid in the typical modern diet may help to explain why so many people appear to have low DHA levels even though most people do include animal foods in their diet already.

If you choose a plant-based diet, supplement properly
Thankfully, vegetarian and vegan-friendly DHA supplements extracted from algae are available. These supplements are more expensive and contain lower concentrations of DHA than fish or krill oil supplements (meaning higher doses are recommended), but may be important for maintaining healthy DHA levels, particularly in mothers and babies during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. All baby formula in the U.S. is supplemented with DHA already to mirror human mother's milk, which naturally contains DHA. If weaning your child before age 2, be sure to include DHA in your child’s diet as food or supplements.

If you have psychiatric symptoms, consider supplementation
As pointed out already, taking a decent dose of DHA without also lowering your linoleic acid consumption (by avoiding vegetable oils) may not be very helpful. However, supplementation is widely viewed as safe, and some studies noted modest benefits at doses of (combined EPA+DHA) of 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day, particularly for people with depression. 

The bottom line about DHA
Minimize refined vegetable oils and other processed foods, and either include some animal foods in the diet or supplement appropriately to avoid issues with inadequate availability of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids DHA and EPA.

To learn more about Saturated Fat and Cholesterol and their relation to heart disease and health check out this previous blogpost to get the facts:  http://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2016/10/is-saturated-fat-and-cholesterol-really.html

For more information on Essentially Fatty Acids check out this previous blogpost on the subject:  http://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2016/11/omega-3-fatty-acids-and-health.html


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Incorporating Resilience Based Thinking In Daily Life


Resiliency is a highly prevalent topic in today’s culture, as there is an increased understanding that mindset impacts well-being. Additionally, as work and life demands have increased in our fast paced society, resiliency has become an important part of the solution to decrease stress. 
In the context of this article, resiliency is defined as the ability to bounce back after challenges and cope well with adversity.   It’s also defined as a state of being, and not a set trait. This is an important distinction to make because some individuals inaccurately think resiliency is a permanent trait; you either have it or you don’t.  
The truth is that resiliency is a choice. When stressful situations emerge, we choose how we look at them and if we want to respond in an adaptive way or not.  We have probably all seen individuals respond out of proportion to a small stressor that occurred. Similarly, we have all seen or heard about someone who handled a life crisis with ease.  The common denominator in both situations is mindset, or how a person thinks about and perceives their experiences. When people are resilient, they tend to have a more positive outlook when stressful situations arise; they are open to learning from mistakes and stay committed to continuing forward towards their goals despite obstacles. 
The good news is that resilience-based thinking can be learned. Anyone who might not incorporate this as easily as others can learn how to cultivate more of this type of thinking into their daily life.  By refining this skill over time, individuals can improve how they respond to stress and overcome challenges. Even better news is that the more we practice it, the better we get during times when we need it the most.  The reason this occurs is best explained by author Rick Hanson in his book, “Hardwiring Happiness”. The book educates readers on how they can strengthen different neural pathways and rewire the way they think and respond to stress. 
Personally, I believe that anyone who wants to cultivate more resilience-based thinking needs to make it a daily practice instead of waiting to apply it when obstacles occur.  If we start to practice this skill during small instances in our day-to-day, we will become more skillful at being resilient during larger life challenges.
Listed below are some helpful tips for individuals to consider when stressful situations or obstacles arise. By incorporating these tips, individuals can be more resilient each day to stress.
1. BREATHE AND PAUSE.
Take a moment to take a deep breath. This will allow you to pause for a moment and decide on the best course of action.  As a result, you will be fully aware of all your options, which will help you decide on how you want to respond.
2. CONSIDER ADAPTING.
Ask yourselves the following questions, “How might I adapt to this situation, and/or adjust my thinking to find a solution? Or, “Is there another way to look at this problem?”  Often, when we emote negatively about a situation, it decreases our creativity on finding new approaches or solutions. Before negatively reacting about an obstacle, take a moment to adapt or consider a new approach first.
3. LET GO OF WHAT YOU CAN. 
There are situations in life we can control and those that we cannot. If something comes up that is out of our control, we need to acknowledge that, and let it go.  It does not help us to ruminate and obsess over something whose outcome we cannot change. Resilient individuals recognize what they cannot control and focus their attention on these details. The practice of doing this continues to cultivate and refine that resilience based thinking.
4. TAKE A MOMENT TO SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE. 
We have all been guilty of this at times. A small stressor occurs, and it snowballs into a larger experience where “everything is horrible.”  In moments like these, it is important to keep a long-term perspective. How does this minor stressor or obstacle impact the bigger picture? For example, if you are stuck in traffic and late to work today, will it matter a year from now?  Probably not, so try to keep your response appropriate to the stressor at hand.
5. STAY CONSTRUCTIVE.
Watch out for extreme thoughts as stressful situations arise. If you notice any extreme thinking, reframe and stay constructive about set-backs.  For example, if something goes wrong, acknowledge it and focus on what you learned, and/or will do differently moving forward. Say to yourself, “I learned that ____ from this experience, and I will use this information as I move forward towards my goals”
6. VISUALIZE SUCCESS.
Instead of getting bogged down by an obstacle, keep your eye on the larger goal for yourself. Visualize where you want to be or go, and stay committed to that despite challenges along the way. 
As you start to incorporate more resilience-based thinking in your daily life, know that this is a practice that will take time if it does not come naturally to you. When you find yourself falling into old patterns, take notice of it, acknowledge what could have been done differently, and remember these tips to keep moving forward and upward..
THE AUTHOR
DANA BENDER
Dana Bender, MS, ACSM, CWWS, E-RYT. Dana Bender works as a fitness and wellness Program Manager for Health Fitness Corporation in downtown Chicago. Dana is also a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, an adjunct professor with Rowan University, and an E-RYT 200 hour Registered Yoga Alliance Teacher.