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The Bedtime Brain Dump

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep is to unburden your brain before bed!

Something I used to really struggle with was bedtime monkey-mind… you know, when you finally get to crawl into bed and get all cozy and then your brain remembers every little thing that you had to put off “til later”! Ugh!

So I modified a creativity tool that I learned years ago and worked it into a nighttime routine to help me clear my mind so I could have a better chance at falling asleep and staying asleep.

Continue reading “The Bedtime Brain Dump”

The Boring Part of Bedtime (and how it works FOR you!)

Getting Up & Going to Bed around the same time each day might sound boring, but let me tell you… feeling great because you sleep well is anything but boring!

For mommas of all ages and stages (and with their kids at all ages and stages), I want to reassure you that disruptions will happen BUT the more consistent you can be with waking up and tucking in, the better your chances are at improving the sleep you get.

As much as mornings can really (really!) suck when you’re already tired, you’ll want to begin by figuring out what time you actually need to wake up n the morning. So you want to factor in your work schedule, getting kids ready for school, that sort of thing and then make your decision about the time you’ll be setting that alarm. It’s easier to get a handle on how much sleep you can get when you start at the beginning of your day.

Next, see if you have an idea of how much sleep you actually need. For me, around 7-8 hours is ideal. Some people need more, some need less. This might be something you’ll need to track for awhile to figure out. But just for example, if you know you do best with 7 hours of sleep and you have to get up for the day at 6am, then you’d best be setting yourself up to be in bed BEFORE 11pm at night (very few people hop into bed and fall fast asleep right away).

Once you’ve got that figured out STICK WITH IT as much as possible. Like, actually 7 days a week.

When we’re just feeling exhausted all the time and we look towards the weekend with those stars in our eyes thinking about sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday to “catch up” we are deluding ourselves… and when we follow through with this plan we are actually making our sleep cycle worse! Our bodies are set up with this natural circadian rhythm that flows with the rotation of the sun. Sadly we often develop habits and routines that disrupt this natural cycle, but we can help retrain ourselves by being consistent!

One tool that I’ve added to my Sleep-Success-Toolkit, is the Sleep Cycle app on my phone. I just have the free version and it gives me great info. I can see when I sleep solidly, when things disrupt my slumber, and track those to what is happening in my life (and in my home!). I get super stoked to check out my sleep regularity progress each morning!

A key part of waking at the same time each day may also be getting exposure to 15-30 minutes of sunlight when you wake up. This light exposure reinforces the body’s circadian rhythm and promotes wakefulness in the morning and then allows you to sleep more easily at night. I live in Canada, so for a good part of the year, it is very dark in the mornings. To help maintain my sleep cycle (and for other benefits as well) I got a Verilux Happy Light light therapy box to use in the mornings. It’s now part of my morning routine that I share with my daughter… we sit for half an hour each morning in front of the Happy Light drinking our morning shake and chatting about life and playing with the cat. It’s a pretty nice way to start the day!

There’s lots of benefits of to waking up and going to bed at the same time…

  • Easier to wake up
  • Easier to fall asleep (less insomnia)
  • Decreased sleep deprivation
  • Fewer naps needed & less dependence on caffeine
  • Improved alertness through the day
  • Better focus and mental clarity
  • Improved mood
  • Less irritability
  • Better immune system function
  • Safer driving

Sounds pretty good, right?

While you are getting into this new habit, do what you can to Avoid Hitting the Snooze Button repeatedly. I’ve been there. Kind of amazed that I never actually broke an alarm from hitting the snooze so much! Here’s the thing, it’s important that when your alarm goes off at your selected wake time, you get up. You don’t want to lay in bed for an hour trying to catch just a couple more minutes of sleep. You want and need consistency, and this might take some real determination in the beginning.

One last note, things are going to come up …, like kids are going to wake you, fire sirens in the middle of the night, there will be some disruptions at some point. No worries. We deal with what we’ve got to deal with, right? But then we get back on tract and stay committed to the things that are helping us feel better so we can get the most out of our Mom-Life!

Catching Some ZZZs (and why how you fuel your body matters!)

Most likely its come to your attention at some point in your life that there are certain things we should avoid if we want to get a good night’s rest. The most common thing we’re warned about is CAFFEINE and I know its a tough one to give up (or even cut back on). So I’m not going to tell you to go cold-turkey on that unless you want to… but I am going to let you know that because caffeine has a half-life of 8 HOURS, you’re gonna want to make sure you aren’t having any coffee, tea, pop or energy drinks a good 8 hours before bedtime to give you your best shot as sleeping well. Oh, sadly I need to add chocolate to that list as well as it contains caffeine too. Have your treats a little earlier in the day!

In addition to caffeine, eating too much food, or having fatty foods like burgers, pizzas, or fully loaded nachos late in the day can stress the digestive system and wreck havoc on your nighttime rest by causing indigestion and/or bloating. Best to enjoy in moderation, maybe by enjoying a good sized salad along with a piece of pizza or smaller helping of nachos. Keep it a bit more balanced and less taxing on the tummy.

One more thing to be mindful of as far as what you’re consuming close to bedtime… alcohol. Yup. I know it can be super tempting to pour a nice big glass of chardonnay or something to help unwind at the end of the day, but hold off. While a bevvy like this might seem like it helps you drift off to sleep quicker, it actually interferes with you getting quality sleep at night. So yes, you might be snoring away in bed for the whole night but you’ll like wake up feeling like it was only for 4 hours. Best tip if you are looking to improve your nightly slumber? Avoid the bedtime drink or have it at least a couple hours before you’re going to tuck in.

Okay, so those are the thing you want to try to reduce or eliminate to improve how much rest you’re getting at night. Happily there are certain things you CAN have closer to bedtime to help make things better!

Try adding a nighttime snack of a handful of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, or pistachios. These all contain natural melatonin which helps regulate our sleep/waking cycle. Your grandma’s standby of a warm glass of milk before bed is actually a good idea if you like milk! It contains both tryptophan and melatonin. CHERRIES were such a lovely surprise to me in my research to find sleep-supporting foods! This fantastic fruit is a powerhouse of sleep support. Cherries contain 4 different sleep regulating compounds: melatonin, tryptophan, potassium, and serotonin. Finally, while I advised against caffeinated tea above, chamomile tea IS recommended and has been used traditionally as a remedy to help insomnia. Chamomile contains a flavonoid compound called apigenin which has sleep-inducing properties… but just have one cup – you don’t want to be waking up in the middle of the night because you’ve had too much tea and need the bathroom! LOL!

On that note, staying hydrated throughout the day will also aid your sleep at night. When you are dehydrated, it can cause leg cramps and sore joints which can wake you or prevent you from dozing off easily. One last note on fueling your body for better sleep quality… sometimes our diet simply might be lacking in a nutrient that our body is low on or has trouble assimilating so we need an extra boost. This was a big discovery for me as I made my way on my own wellness journey. I spent a decade trying to ditch my exhaustion and get some decent sleep and everything I added to my daily habits helped, but it was finding the right supplement that finally clicked everything together for me. That final missing puzzle piece, if you will.

Magnesium, B12, Calcium are just some of the supplements that can help improve quality of sleep. As I always say, “We are all built from the same stuff, but we are all put together a little differently.” And we all have differing life circumstances. If you feel like you might need to supplement to give your body a nutritional boost, I highly encourage you to check in with your healthcare practitioner to see what you might be lacking. I’ve taken supplements pretty much my entire adult life because I was aware of some gaps in my nutrition. Now that I’ve found a super simple and effective 3 step supplement system that I can get done as soon as I wake up in the morning has made all the difference in fueling my body well. If you’d like to know more about the line of nutritional supplements I’ve fallen in love with, check out the Nutritional Support page at http://www.breezewellnessbc.com

Soooo, are you up for taking a good look at what you’re putting into your body and how it (or lack of it) might be impacting your sleep? It is one more step you can take in setting yourself up for sleep success with a routine you can stick with!

Cheers to catching those quality ZZZs!

Did You Know that Clutter Can Affect Your Sleep?

Ideally, a bedroom is a place that’s dedicated to rest, with only essential furniture like nightstands, bed, dresser, and, possibly, chairs in it. Maybe a reading lamp with a warm-white bulb in it, can provide a calming light source. That’s it. Everything else could be seen as a distraction to the task at hand – some shut-eye.

When you try to fall asleep surrounded by stacks of papers, piles of laundry, miscellaneous toys, gadgets, projects… well, you might not think it is messing with you but studies have shown that clutter like that can trigger both anxiety and stress in some people. Your subconscious is very much aware of the disorder around you.

Take the first step to improving your quality of sleep by decluttering your sleep space, and creating a peaceful environment to relax in. People who had more clutter also reported more sleep disturbances – and even daytime disturbances – showing that a cluttered and chaotic feeling room can affect your whole day, not just your night.

Seriously, getting rid of clutter will both relieve the tension in your mind and allow you to take advantage of the bedroom’s benefits. Remove the clutter in order to let your eyes and your mind rest.

A super simple way to do this is to take an empty laundry basket, tote, or even just an empty box, and gather all non-essential items to relocate elsewhere like the closet, a spare room, or the basement if you’ve got one. As you clear space, don’t forget the area under your bed. According to feng shui, the area under the bed should be open so energy can circulate and nourish you while you sleep. One BIG caveat to this suggestion: I want you to mark each basket, tote or box with a letter (“A”, “B”, etc) and then make a note on your calendar or planner to sort and deal with that letter on a specific day. And do it on that day. You don’t want to stuff the “stuff” just anywhere and then forget about it! LOL!

EASIEST thing to do to begin decluttering your sleep space and start creating that peaceful place where you can slumber peacefully? Make your bed each morning for a fresh start to your day. Not only will your bedroom look calm and peaceful all day – there is nothing better than crawling into a freshly made bed when it’s time to sleep. How is making your bed “decluttering”? Well, I know that when I see a rumpled messy bed it feels cluttered and chaotic… when I see a bed that’s put together, it feels tidy, less stressful, and totally inviting. Super simple way to start to set the stage for better sleep!

Sweet Dreams to you!!!

Did you know that I host a private Facebook group for moms? It’s called Level Up Your Mom Life and its a super supportive community for moms who are ready to ditch daily exhaustion and finally get their energy & focus to a place that allows them to live their best Mom Life! If this sounds like you, please check it out HERE.

Because I’ve Been There…

Why did I choose to create a wellness coaching program just for moms?

Because I know what it feels like to have the bulk of parenting responsibilities fall to you in addition to working and keeping a home.

I know the struggle of sleepless nights, daily exhaustion, and feeling like everything is out of control.

I’ve experienced the despair and feelings of inadequacy when the day slipped by yet again with little quality time with my children and the overwhelming sense of “missing out”.

I turned all those things around for me and my family through a lot of trial and error, by connecting with experts in the fields I needed help most with, and via ongoing education until I had a system in place that I could easily work into my life and stick with!

I don’t want any other moms to lose years to struggling like I did.

THAT’S why I created The Real Life Reset System – to help moms ditch their daily exhaustion, level up their energy, and find the focus they need so they can do all that they have to do (and WANT to do) in their busy mom-lives

It’s all online, so it can work into any mom’s schedule

If this sounds like something you want to know more about, I invite you to book a free 30-minute Mom Life Clarity Call. At the end of our call together, you’ll leave with a better idea of what your best “next steps” can be regardless of whether or not you choose to join The Real Life Reset System.

Looking forward to chatting with you!

Always from the heart,

Jennifer

Turning It All Around

Seeing me today, you’d be forgiven for not having a clue that I spent my first decade as a mom barely getting out of the house, let alone doing anything active or outdoorsy.

But let me tell you, the exhaustion that arrived with the birth of my first child hit HARD and kept growing with every passing day.

Sleep issues, erratic eating habits, and growing disorganization at home wore me down to a shadow of my former self. In fact, it got to the point where I wondered if I was going to end up completely missing out on the best parts of momhood because I was always feeling totally wiped out.

Sometimes it takes a real “wake-up, shake-up call” to make us aware of the fact that we have been pulled miles away from the life we dreamed of… and that’s exactly what happened to me. And I’m so grateful for it because it forced me to make the changes that led me to finally ditch that daily exhaustion, level up my energy once and for all, and finally take control of my mom-life.

It was over a decade of “lost time,” for me, but I am MORE than making up for it now!

Quality time with my kids – ✅
Getting outdoors and making the most of all 4 seasons where I live – ✅
Having the energy to do all that I HAVE to do AND what I WANT to do – ✅

It took time, education, and a lot of trial and error, but I figured it out… and I put it all together to share with other moms so they don’t have to go through the frustration and “lost years” that I went through. I’ve been there. I totally underst

If you’d like to find out more on how you can get additional support in levelling up your energy, making the most of your Mom Life, and getting the rest you need to function at your best, just send me an email with the Subject: I’m Ready To Hear More, Jen by clicking HERE.

Prebiotics 101 – what the gut needs

“Pre”biotics?

Yes! They’re the food that we feed our probiotics, the friendly gut microbes that are oh so important for good health.

Our gut microbes are alive, and they need to eat too. Their favourite foods are called “prebiotics” and include dietary fibre and resistant starch. The same fibre that keeps us feeling full slows down digestion and provides roughage that keeps us regular. Resistant starch helps promote healthy blood lipids. Both of types of prebiotics (fibre and resistant starch) are linked with many health benefits.

Technically-speaking, a prebiotic has three qualities:

  • It needs to be undigested and reach the colon intact;
  • It needs to be digested by our gut microbes; and,
  • It needs to stimulate our health-promoting good gut microbes.

Now that we know what prebiotics are let’s dive into their health benefits.

Health benefits of prebiotics

Prebiotic fibre helps keep us regular by bulking up our poop. It gives it substance and form, so it’s not too runny or liquid. In fact, more fibre is often recommended to help with symptoms of diarrhea. Prebiotic fibre used to be thought of like a broom that sweeps food through our guts, but we’re learning more about its health benefits beyond this role.

For example, prebiotics can also help to maintain normal bowel structure and function, and even enhance blood flow to the cells of the colon.

Those are some of the health benefits of prebiotics themselves. But we get even more health benefits when our friendly gut microbes eat and digest them.

For one thing, our gut microbes use prebiotics to make short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs (e.g., butyrate) can feed the cells of our colon to keep them healthy. SCFAs also inhibit the growth of bad gut microbes, and can even increase mineral (e.g., calcium and magnesium) absorption. These effects are all linked to the slight acidity caused by the acids in those SCFAs.

Dietary fibre also binds to healthful phytonutrients (phyto = plant). These phytonutrients are lost when the fibre is removed from the food. But, when we eat the prebiotic fibre, our gut microbes release these phytonutrients so we can absorb and use them.

Where to get prebiotics

Dietary fibre and resistant starch are the main sources of prebiotics.

Prebiotic fibre is found mostly in plants; both fruits and vegetables.

Resistant starch is any starch (a type of carbohydrate) that goes through most of our digestive tract without being digested. It’s not broken down by our digestive enzymes because it’s “resistant”… until it gets to our gut microbes in the colon. Resistant starch is found in starchy foods like whole grains and potatoes.

One of the big differences between fibre and resistant starch is that all of the fibre we eat is undigestible. All of it reaches our colons. Resistant starch, on the other hand, is just a small percent of the starch we eat. Most starch is digested and absorbed along our digestive tract, and that part is not considered to be prebiotic. Only the small amount of starch that is resistant to digestion and makes it down to the colon to feed our probiotics is prebiotic.

Prebiotic fibre is found in fibrous fruits and vegetables. It’s essentially what’s removed when we make juice – the pulp. It’s one of the reasons why eating whole fruits and vegetables is more healthful than replacing them with juice.

Here are some great sources of dietary fibre:

  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Pears

Resistant starch is found in:

  • Whole grains (e.g. oats)
  • Potatoes
  • Cornmeal
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Green bananas

Starches can be made resistant by cooking and cooling these foods before eating them. The cooling process allows the starches to re-shape themselves into a structure that is harder to digest (i.e., more resistant).

Conclusion

Prebiotics are fibre and resistant starches that feed our gut microbes. And when we feed our gut microbes, they help keep our gut healthy and have other health benefits too.

Do you ever juice your amazingly healthy fruits and vegetables and have a ton of leftover pulp? What do you do with it? I have a great recipe for using that oh so healthy prebiotic fibre in a delicious way.

Recipe (Juice pulp): Brownies

Serves 12

¾ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened (prebiotic)
3 tbsp coconut flour (prebiotic)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups juice pulp, firmly packed (prebiotic)
½ cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup maple syrup

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8”x8” baking tray with parchment paper.

Add cocoa powder, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl. Stir to combine.

Whisk eggs, pulp, oil and maple syrup.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine well. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the baking dish.

Bake for 30 mins until the top is firm and edges just start to pull away from the dish.

Allow the brownies to cool.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: I like to blend the wet ingredients in my blender to make cleanup easier.

References:

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/juicing-removes-more-than-just-fiber/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/resistant-starch-colon-cancer/

https://extension.psu.edu/prebiotics-how-to-feed-your-good-bacteria

https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/prebiotic/faq

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-fibre

Water Works!

Yeah yeah yeah. We’ve all heard we need to drink more water. But what exactly are the benefits from doing so?

Well, let me tell you … there’s a lot more to it than you probably realize!

Here’s the rundown on why water works for our overall wellness:

  1. Sleep. Yes, you read that right. Sleep! Being properly hydrated before bed can have a big impact on the quality of rest you get when you go to bed for the night.
  2. Energy Levels. When you are dehydrated, your body is under stress. Any extra stress on the body has a negative impact on healthy energy levels.
  3. Skincare. We are fairly aware that we need to hydrate our skin topically to keep it healthy and happy, but did you know that drinking enough water also plays a big part in our skin health and appearance?
  4. Focus. This one was the most shocking to me when I figured it out. You know that brain fog, mid-afternoon fuzziness of the mind that so many moms experience? Yes, it can definitely be attributed to things like caffeine or sugar crashes or having a crappy sleep the night before (see point #1) BUT it can also be due to being dehydrated. Just like it can affect your energy levels, it can also adversely affect your mental clarity (or lack thereof). This one hit home for me when I was taking a heavy courseload in a business program I had enrolled in. I’d slept well, I’d eaten properly, I’d done my daily yoga… but my mind was just fuzzy. I decided to take a break and realized I’d left my water bottle on the kitchen counter earlier that day and clearly had not had anything to drink for awhile. I knocked it back and then refilled and started another. Within 10 minutes or so I was suddenly alert again and able to focus on the project I was in the midst of. Amazing!
  5. Digestion & Weight Management. How can your daily water intake help with this? Well, it’s because water can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate. Some evidence suggests that increasing water intake can promote weight loss by slightly increasing your metabolism, which can increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis.

There’s loads of benefits to making an effort to drink enough water and stay well hydrated!

How do you know how much to drink? Opinions can vary, but the rule of thumb I was taught (and still go by) is this:

Determine your weight in pounds (lbs). Divide that number in half. The number you end up with is the amount of water you are recommended to drink daily in OUNCES (oz). Most of the water bottles I own are 25oz so for me, I need to knock back three of those each day. Keep in mind, if you are feeling under the weather, have been working out really hard, or if you are somewhere really hot (we get hot summers here!), you will want to increase the amount of H2O you are taking in.

Tips on how to get that water into you? Try any or all of these:

  1. add a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber or a sprig of mint
  2. drink your water warm. My great grandma always drank hot water with a tsp of honey and a slice of lemon
  3. try carbonated water (club soda here in Canada). You might also know this as sparkling water. Just be mindful that it isn’t full of flavours or other additives.
  4. use a straw! Seriously. A friend of mine really struggles to drink enough water, but if she has a reusable cup that has its own straw… no problem!

We’ve been working on upping our water intake in my free fb group for moms, Level Up Your Mom Life. This online community is a safe, supportive space for moms who are looking to make sustainable improvements in their health and wellbeing. If you’d like to join us, click HERE (please make sure you answer the questions). We look forward to having you join us!

Always from the heart,

Jennifer Greenwood
Breeze Wellness
Founder, The Real Life Reset System

Affirmations, Overcoming Limiting Beliefs, and Ditching that Daily Exhaustion

I strongly believe in the power of the words we use.

Affirmations are an amazing tool to use to help overcome Limiting Beliefs (which happens to be our current challenge in my free fb group for moms this week ) AND for helping us set & attain our goals!

In my wellness coaching work with moms in The Real Life Reset System, affirmations are introduced early on to help these moms achieve their goals (like ditching their daily exhaustion).

For instance, an affirmation of “I am Strong” can help a mom with her fitness goals or her emotional resilience.

I’ve gotten into the habit of choosing my words carefully and intentionally… when speaking, writing, or thinking.   I even wear my words!!! On my t-shirts, my jewelry, even my nutritional supplements!

Have you ever given thought to how your words affect your mindset & beliefs? Have you worked with affirmations before?

What is your “I Am” statement?

For the past couple days I’ve been working with “I Am… Grateful”

If you’d like more info on my online wellness program, The Real Life Reset System, that I’ve created for moms who are ready to ditch their daily exhaustion & level up their energy and focus, send me an email and we can book a free Mom Life Clarity Call to see if it would be a good fit for you.

Always from the heart,
Jennifer

PS – if you are looking for a supportive community of moms who are making positive changes to improve their health & wellbeing (and have some fun too!!!) please check out my free FB group here:  Level Up Your Mom Life

Goat Yoga at the Ranch!

Time for some Summer Fun!

It’s that time of year again!  I’m thrilled to once more be part of this fun outdoor yoga series out at Historic O’Keefe Ranch.

 

Upcoming sessions are:  July 11th, 15th, & 25th, and August 8th, 12th, & 29th.  Samantha will be doing the Wednesday classes and I’ll be leading the Saturday classes.  Class size is limited to allow for proper social distancing, so please make sure you contact the ranch (250-542-7868) as soon as possible to save your spot ASAP as the classes fill up quickly.

 

It’s the most fun you’ll have in a yoga class… no kidding!

~ Jennifer Greenwood

RYT200 Yoga Teacher

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