November Favorites

I’ve discovered so many great new products, places and things in the last month that I wanted to share my recommendations with you. Read below to learn more and click the links to try them for yourself.

 

Food

 

Mush overnight oats

This is a great breakfast option when you are on the go and have no time to prep overnight oats the night before. I love the super limited ingredients in this product which are oats, almond milk, dates and sea salt. The flavors vary from peanut butter to chocolate and everything in between, so be sure to try them all!

 

Coyo coconut yogurt

This coconut yogurt contains zero additives and is made with just coconut meat and probiotic cultures. The super clean ingredients make it a healthy and filling breakfast option when paired with granola and berries.

 

HB Fit x Grass Roots Juicery

Hannah Bronfman teamed up with NYC- based juice bar Grass Roots to create a collaboration of rawnola, protein bars and juices. Filled with superfood ingredients like chlorella, spirulina, ashwaghanda and so much more, these snacks are radiating with health benefits. While the juices and smoothies are local to New Yorkers, you can order the packaged snacks online. Limited while supplies last.

 

Phi Kind chocolate

Probably the healthiest chocolate I ever tried, this California based brand creates unique flavor combinations of dark chocolate truffles and chocolate bars that contain zero grams of sugar. The perfect after dinner dessert or an absolutely guilt free pick me up any time of day, these chocolates will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth craving.

 

Beauty

 

Osmia Organics recovery salt bath

This salt soak comes packed with essential ingredients like lavender, olive oil and shea to completely relieve your muscles of tension and help you relax. I love that the packaging comes with a wooden spoon to scoop out the grey salt. 2 scoops is all you need to radiate in the bliss of this bath, and the product will last you for 5-6 times.

 

Jade roller

I was on the fence about purchasing a face massager because there are so many products on the market and I was afraid they would actually stretch out my sensitive skin. I love the jade roller because it is made out of natural stone and it not being electronic, allows you to control the speed and intensity with which you massage your face. I highly recommend purchasing an 100% jade product and exploring the multiple uses it has to offer. You can use it to intensify the penetration of a moisturizer once you have applied it to your face. Stick the roller in the fridge between uses and apply is to under eye circles to reduce puffiness. My best tip would be to massage your neck on the gland area to improve blood circulation, oxygen production and reduce signs of adrenal fatigue.

 

Cote twinkle toes set

I love every color in this collection and have been looking for a natural bubble gum pink polish ever since I converted to using chemical free products. Cote is by far my favorite natural nail care brand and I am so happy to have a new go-to pink as part of their collection. The sparkly star-speckled glitter polish is very tame and if you love stars like me, you will be using this color frequently. I have yet to try the blue shade, but I already have my color picked out for my next salon appointment.

 

Yawn by HVMN

I have been against melatonin for a long time because I purchased an over the counter brand from Whole Foods that did nothing to help me sleep. I have been openly struggling with insomnia on and off for the past few years and I find that this product is a great alternative to stronger medications like Xanax. I am past the point of spraying lavender oil on myself to combat sleeping problems and find that Yawn puts me to good, quality sleep for at least 6 hours if not more. The product was developed by bio-hackers in Silicon Valley and every ingredient is designed to help you fall asleep, stay asleep and have quality sleep where you experience every cycle from REM and light sleep to deep sleep. My Fitbit attests to this because other supplements and medications can knock you out but you wake up feeling groggy and unrested because you are in a “dead sleep” state.

 

 

Places

 

Poke Acupuncture

Finding a good acupuncturist is hard work. Here in LA, there are a dime a dozen and all promise to get you the results you are looking for. My previous experience with acupuncture yielded zero results so I was nervous to try again but I am so glad I found Poke on Melrose. Dr. Alexandra Bruehl is truly knowledgeable and can help you with all kind of issues from insomnia and anxiety to digestion and period pain. She incorporates natural remedies like essential oils and salts into her treatments, leaving you feel truly relaxed and energized. I saw results from my first treatment which got me to book a standing appointment at this cozy Melrose spot. 

 

Marciano Art Foundation

A new contemporary art gallery on the border of Hancock Park and Koreatown is a welcome addition to the growing LA art scene. The gallery offers 3 floors of rotating exhibits from artists like Alex Israel and Christopher Wool. The first floor cafe offers coffee and light bites while the gallery shop has an impressive collection of art books and collector pieces by Takashi Murakami.

 

Blue Bottle Brentwood

The Brentwood Country Mart is seeing a revamp with the addition of trendy Blue Bottle. Not only does the cafe serve delicious coffee and homemade chia pudding, you can also shop for DIY coffee equipment like Chemexes, coffee filters and grinders.

 

Cos Bar

A beauty supply store in the Brentwood Country Mart after my own heart. Stocked full of every product currently hot on the market, here you will find hair care by Oribe and Ouai, masks by Dr. Jart, nail-polish by Deborah Lippmann and so much more!

The Breakfast Smoothie

Today I am sharing the recipe to my favorite breakfast smoothie. Packed with vitamins, antioxidants and healthy fats, this smoothie will make you feel amazing and have your skin glowing. The best part is that you will feel full until lunch or whenever you need a pick me up. 

1 cup nut milk of choice

1 scoop vegan protein

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1 cup baby spinach

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon raw almond butter

1/2 cup ice

Blend in a high speed blender and enjoy. 

This is the basic recipe I use on most days.  You can tailor it to your taste by choosing flavored protein powders- my favorite being chocolate from Sunwarrior and Chocolate Peanut Butter from Amazing Grass. You can also add extra supplements like ashwaghanda, barley grass or pine pollen. You can switch up your nut butter to peanut, sunflower seed or tahini. I recommend using refrigerated nut milks with limited ingredients by brands like Califia Farms, New Barn and Forager. Happy drinking!

Nine of Swords

This week's tarot deck brought out the nine of swords and the description of it so accurate to my place in life right now, that I had to bookmark it somewhere and chose this blog. Maybe you can relate... 

 

I did a meditation yesterday on what it would feel like to not worry. When I was able to throw out of my mind all of the troubles that usually keep me anxious, it felt like an instant relief. If you want to try this meditation, imagine that you are emptying out all of the problems in your life one by one until you are empty inside. Once you are completely empty of every worry that you have, you can begin with a clean slate and go to sleep.

 

Some of the worries I carry around with me will be outlined below, but many of them I have already forgotten because I emptied them last night.  

Family

Relationships

Finances

Career

My dogs

My apartment

Bills

My car

My health

My fitness

My body

Food

Purpose

 

Here is a description of the tarot card in my star sign for September: 

The Nine of Swords shows a woman with her head in her hands, sitting up in her bed. She appears to have just woken up from a bad nightmare, and is obviously upset, fearful and anxious following her dream. Nine swords hang on the wall behind her and the base of the bed is decorated with a carving of a duel in which one person is being defeated by another. The quilt covering the woman is decorated with roses and the outlines of astrological symbols.

Meanings:

The Nine of Swords is the card of fear and nightmares, and has an apparently negative ‘feel’ to it. However, the troubles alluded to in the Nine of Swords are primarily of a psychological nature and do not necessarily indicate suffering in your external reality. That is, it is what is inside your mind that is creating the fear and anxiety, not your actual circumstances. Your experience of the world is greatly influenced by our expectations, desires, and fears, and therefore you are largely the creator of your own world, and your attitudes determine how you experience that world.

The Nine of Swords can also reflect fear of the future, or what may possibly happen in the future. If you allow yourself to be bound by fear of the future, you are at risk of eventually creating a negative reality for yourself by virtue of your expectations. Your nightmare becomes your self-fulfilling prophecy, which is clearly not a desirable outcome.

Generally, this card is an indication that you are worrying excessively about a situation. You are literally being kept up at night because you are so anxious about a particular issue. It is possible you are working yourself up unnecessarily and, if you were to look at the situation more objectively, you may come to realise that it is not as bad as you are making it out to be. In fact, all that worry and despair is what is making it worse, so rather than fretting about it, do something to change it.

Although most people experience fear, frustration and uncertainty at some point in their lives, you should not allow those negative emotions to immobilise you or keep you from pursuing your goals with enthusiasm and hope. Expect at least some level of uncertainty in the future, and draw upon your inner strength to remain as flexible and adaptable to that uncertainty as possible.

The Nine of Swords can also indicate that you are being incredibly hard on yourself, putting yourself down or engaging in negative self-talk. For every mistake you make, you blame yourself and become worked up and angry at yourself for messing up again. So, when the Nine of Swords appears in a reading, ask yourself why you are being so hard on yourself, how are you putting yourself down or what is the source of your depression? What can you do to make yourself feel better? You may need to make a more conscious effort to quit the negative self-talk and replace it with positive reinforcement for a job well done.

 

 

If you are feeling anxious or worried, know you are not alone. It is part of life. 

 

Sending you love and light, 

Avelin

10 Things I learned from Jen Sincero's You Are a Badass

Jen Sincero is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Here are 10 lessons I learned from her book. For more information, you can find the book on Amazon.

“Nothing in this world is permanent, including our stories. Yet we try to hold on to them for false security, which ultimately leads to sorrow and loss. Be willing to let go. Keep reinventing your story as you continue to grow.

 

If you made the decision that you were going to reach your goals, you would do whatever it took. If you merely wanted to, but hadn’t made the firm decision to, you’d roll over and begin convincing yourself that your life is fine just the way it is.

 

If we don’t have a strong connection to the truth- we live in an abundant universe, we are awesome, glorious and tear jerking-ly loveable, etc. – a blazing desire, an unflinching belief in our own vision before it’s manifest, we’ll fall prey to our own fears that it’s not possible and give up, instead of course-correction or pushing on through and bringing it to life.

 

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm- Winston Churchill

 

If you were sick of feeling fat and unsexy and out of shape and the only time you could make it to the gym was at 5 AM on freezing winter mornings when you were all snuggly in bed, would you go? If you made the decision that you were going to reach your goals, you would do whatever it took. If you merely wanted to, but hadn’t made the firm decision to, you’d roll over and begin convincing yourself that your life is fine the way it is.

 

If you’re wired for making instant decisions, practice tuning into your intuition and fully trusting what it says (regardless of what your brain may be screaming about). Get quiet, listen for and feel into the answer, and practice acting on your first, solid impulse.

 

And whoever you are, please, stop saying how pathetic you are at making decisions. Erase the phrase "I don’t know” from your vocabulary and replace it with, “I'll know what to do soon enough.” Decide to the become the person who makes quick, smart decisions and you will.

 

Making money isn’t only about the money, just as losing weight isn’t only about losing weight and finding your soulmate isn’t only about finding your soulmate. It's about who you become and what you believe is possible for yourself.

 

If you're single, it's not about boo-hooing the fact that you can't find someone good or half-heartedly forcing yourself to go on a million dates. It's about keeping your desire strong and your faith unwavering, brushing your hair and teeth, leaving the house, flirting your ass off, joyfully going about your life and being grateful that not only is the person you’re seeking also seeking you, but that The Universe is conspiring to bring you together.

 

Doubt is resistance, faith is surrender. Worry is resistance, joy is surrender. Control is resistance, allowing is surrender. Ridicule is resistance, believing is surrender.

 

Sugar is Sugar is Sugar

Let's talk about sugar! 

 

I know the concept is played out and anyone you meet who knows remotely anything about health knows it's bad for you, but I had fruit for breakfast today after not eating sugar for almost a month and I feel like I went a-wall! 

 

It's fig and mulberry season in Southern California and I decided to head to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market this morning to score my two favorite fruits! After eating my breakfast of figs and mulberries, I had an immediate sugar spike followed by a crash an hour later.

 

Now I feel lethargic, tired and like I got zero nutritional benefit from what I ate. Also, this amount of fruit equates to 100 grams of the sweet stuff (even if it is natural) and not from added sweeteners. Sure there is fiber, and maybe it does enter your blood stream at a more controlled rate than if you were to add teaspoons of it to your oatmeal or coffee, but the reaction is the same. 

 

The longer you abstain from sweeteners, the better you will feel. Have one dessert or fruit meal, and the sluggish tired feeling you will have hours later will make you realize how much better you feel without it. No wonder it is so addicting and causing so many health problems!

 

My advice to curb sugar intake is to fill your plate or smoothie with lots and lots of greens, fresh vegetables and healthy fats like nuts and seeds. Not only will you be satisfying your nutritional requirements more efficiently, you will also be hitting your system with powerful antioxidants that will improve strength, metabolism, and your overall wellbeing, allowing you to have more sustained energy throughout the day and less need for stimulants like caffeine (and dessert). 

 

It's incredible how our bodies react to each and every thing we put into them. Don't be afraid of carbs, just choose more nutritionously dense options like whole grains, potatoes and beans. Even a slice of multigrain bread will be better for you (and digest slower for optimal energy) than a punnet of mulberries. 

 

I degress because they are seasonal and so limited in their availability, but unfortunately fruits like these are basically the equivalent of eating a tub of ice cream with chocolate cake. 

 

Gym Bag Essentials

I've recently reignited my love affair with the gym. I used to be a member at Equinox in Soho and when I moved to LA, I experimented with yoga studios, Soulcycle and most recently Body By Simone. Through this process I have weeded out the good and the bad of the fitness industry and figured out what type of workout gives me the best results and keeps me motivated to wake up early.

 

As far as yoga goes, I think it's a great way to learn about your mind (following your intuition) and your body. It led me to meditation and improved flexibility, and the 7 pillars of the Bhagavad Gita are definitely great rules to live your life by. However, it is not stimulating enough for me to get all of my energy out - even a 90 minute vinyasa flow at Yogaworks. It also left me kind of hungry and in a weird limbo of knowing I worked out but not feeling it. I like to be sore after a workout - not every day - but a couple of times a week, to know I am working different muscles in my body and to measure my fitness level.

As far as Soulcycle goes, I think it's great to incorporate into your routine a couple of times a month for the fun of it- the soul tribe - as it is called by insiders, is a great environment and really motivates you to work out. The group setting is really inviting, however the workout lacks a personal touch as both men and women - 30+ people in a class - of all ages and sizes are doing the exact same thing.

Dance cardio mixed with HIIT and body strength exercises seem to be the best combination for me, as a woman. I think that certain workouts are effective for certain people depending on their personality, workout style and their fitness and body goals. I wouldn't necessarily recommend men to focus on body strength training as they probably want to add more muscle mass with gym equipment and heavier weights, but as far as a women's body goes - to have long, lean muscles and to look "in shape" while keeping your curves, you can do most of the work with your own body and the possible addition of some wrist weights, resistance bands and 3 pound weights.

 

The reason I am sharing all this is because I have a love hate relationship with the gym afters years of following a static routine prescribed to me by a personal trainer who prepares bodybuilders for competitions. Granted, every experience is a learning experience, but it made me detest gyms, equipment and weights so much that I cancelled my gym membership for over two years.

 

Now that I am working full time, my schedule doesn't allow me to attend my favorite workout classes like Lekfit, Body By Simone, ModelFIT and Tracy Anderson during the week and paying for extra classes on top of a monthly gym membership isn't worth it. That's why I went back to Equinox! I am still following the routines and circuits I was doing previously in all of these classes, but now I am doing them on my own.

 

The advantage to the gym membership - only speaking for Equinox - is that I can follow my own schedule. I am not tied down to the boutique studio's schedule which caters to moms and let's be honest - people without jobs who can luxuriously roll into a dance class at 10:30 AM on a Tuesday. Maybe if I lived somewhere else - like New York, or even West Hollywood - I could take a 6:30 AM class. But having the freedom to not worry about being late or someone taking "my" spot makes the morning routine go a lot smoother. Not to mention, having 24/7 access to a steam room is great.

My gym is also really big, so I have plenty of room to do all of the dance cardio I want - albeit with a number of onlookers questioning whether I am on something - no, I am not. Dance cardio is also a lot of fun and listening to good playlists makes the time go by crazy fast. It's also a lot less boring than a tedious treadmill run or an hour on the elliptical.

Some basic things I keep in my gym bag to vary my routines and keep my body guessing - working on different muscle groups at every workout include the following list bellow. For some inspiration on what to pack in your own gym bag, scroll through!

Thumblock Wrist Weights by SPRI

This brand is great because they are easily washable, and unlike most wrist weights, you have to stick your thumb in so that they won't slide around as you do your arm exercises. I use the 2 pound set which is just heavy enough to feel my muscles burning and work great in combination with 3 pound hand weights.

Adjustable Ankle Weights by Theraband

The best way to tone your glutes, butt and legs is with a 1- 2 pound ankle weight. These Velcro ankle weights are perfect for donkey kicks, kick backs and other leg exercises. I prefer them to a resistance band because I don't have to worry about it shooting off somewhere and hitting me mid workout.

Resistance Bands

While I don't use a resistance band for legs, I think they are the ultimate tool for shaping your butt. I guess resistance bands had a moment back in the 90s during the Jane Fonda era, but they are actually perfect for sculpting and toning. Pair resistance band exercises with a Stairmaster three times a week for the perfect workout.

 

Wireless Powerbeats

Don't let the price tag scare you, these headphones are the best on the market in terms of utility and quality. You can charge them remotely through a USB cable for up to 12 hours and they play music loud enough to tune out the person working out next to you as well as other background noise. Their ease of use is what makes them so irreplaceable, because they connect to your phone through Bluetooth, allowing you to do HIIT and other movements without having your phone attached to you in any way. Worth the investment, I promise!

Newton Running Shoes

These sneakers are under the radar because they are not fashionable or have Kanye West advertising them, but they have the thickest soles allowing you to bounce, jump and run with abandon. If you suffer from shin splints or leg cramps after your workouts, it's not because you are doing something wrong in your technique, it's because you aren't wearing the right shoes!

How to Read a Nutrition Label

Nutrition labels are found on every packaged food product at your grocery store. While it is best to follow a diet of whole foods like fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and whole grains, there are times when we are in a situation that will require a packaged product - may it be travelling in an airport, celebrating a special occasion, or starving after work and being too tired to cook. For that there's meal prep, but read on anyway. 

 

Step 1: Shop at health food stores as much as possible

There is a Whole Foods in every major city in the country and the wellness trend is making healthy food stores readily accessible. Better yet, going for a smaller chain or indiviual store will often be less pricey and you will find all kinds of amazing products from companies that are too small for Whole Foods to carry. By shopping at a health food store, you immeditely eliminate toxic ingredients like food coloring and chemicals because these store owners monitor the ingredients of the companies they source from.

 

My favorite health food stores in LA are Lassens, Erewhon, Mother's Market (The OC), Santa Monica Co-Op and Rainbow Acres. In NY, check out Perelandra, LifeThyme, Clover Grocery and Orchard Grocer

 

Step 2: Read the ingredients

By default, you have already eliminated junk like aspartame (found in Coca Cola), high fructose corn syrup, and other chemical compounds that you can't even pronounce. 

 

Now start looking for things you may be allergic too (wheat, nuts, dairy, etc.). Ingredient lables are printed in the order of the amount of food. So if something is first on the label- like sugar- this product will be primarily sugar. I noticed that green juice companies do this a lot! On the front they list ingredients in a different order than on the back - making that "green" juice really just apple juice with a leaf of spinach.

 

Labels usually write "this product contains wheat, dairy, etc" in bold letters to make it easy to find if you are in a rush. If the label has too many ingredients and those you've never heard of or can't picture in your mind (sodium nitrate anyone?) put it back!

 

Step 3: Sodium and sugar

I like to check the salt and sugar content of products before I buy them because it helps me guage how addiciting it will be and how much it will bloat me. If a serving of something contains 300 calories and its sodium content is higher than 300 mg, this product contains way too much salt! A good rule of thumb is for the sodium content (in milligrams) to be equivalent or less than the calories per serving. An exception would be for ingredients like coconut aminos or liquid smoke - condiments that are used in very small quantities. 

 

Sugar content is trickier because our daily recommended added amount is around 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men but natural sugar is found in everything - even quinoa. 

 

If you want to be adament about your sugar intake, consider not buying products with added sugars like honey, agave or maple syrup. Even though these sweeteners are natural, their glycemic loads will spike your blood sugar. If it's a special treat, enjoy your sugar and don't feel guilty. Don't worry about finding sugar grams on packaged foods, if the range is 1-3 grams per serving it's minimal and won't affect your weight or sweet tooth. 

 

Step 4: count your macros (if you want to) 

Once you have eliminated all of the bad stuff in your shopping cart you are free to count your macros if you are following a specific diet. Low carb, low fat, high protein, etc.  

 

Overall, aim for ingredients you can recognize and pronounce, buy organic and non GMO as much as possible and don't be fooled by marketing gimmicks like "natural" and "gluten free".

How to Practice Self Care

We all talk about being healthy - eating right and exercising. But for most of us, our health routine ends there. A lot of really important self care tips are overlooked in our busy lives as we prioritize work, school and our relationships more so than we do ourselves. This is why people can often struggle with health even though they seem to be doing all the right things. 

On my personal wellness journey, I got so caught up in the eating right, that I neglected everything else. However, to be truly well, it all needs to start from within - the mind. The mind-body connection is what truly gives us joy in living and finding happiness in our health practices. In order to fully absorb the nutrients in our food and the health benefits of our exercise, we must also incorporate a self care practice. 

 

Below is a list of wellness tips I have incorporated into my routine over the past year, and coincidentally they are also endorsed by Dr. Frank Lipman in his minicleanse program. 

 

Tip #1: Start the day with warm lemon water

Warm lemon water stimulates your digestion for the day and can help flush the body of toxins. Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods for the body, so be sure to include them in your daily routine.

 

Tip #2: Sweat it out in the sauna (or bath) 

Sweating is a great way to release toxins through your skin during the reset (and beyond). Sweating in the sauna promotes healthy, glowing skin and is relaxing for your body and mind. A recent study also showed that taking a hot bath is equivalent to working out - a great way to burn calories while doing nothing.

 

Tip #3: Try restoratative yoga 

Yoga is our favorite detoxifying exercise, and twisting encourages the flow of oxygenated blood in the body while helping to eliminate toxins. Twisting can also help reduce any digestive discomfort; try a seated torso twist, which can be done at any time of day. I recently took a class where we had to roll up a blanket and lay face down on it, with the stomach (digestive system) being pushed into the ball. The discomforting feeling came from the digestive system being forced to relax, as it is a place of tension where we store our stress, having to constantly keep our abs engaged as we sit and stand. I highly recommend trying this pose to relieve anxiety and improve overall BM.

 

Tip #4: Take a bath 

An Epsom salt bath can help your body eliminate toxins and will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed. The Epsom salts contain magnesium as well as other minerals and nutrients that are absorbed into your skin during the bath and can help with the reset process. Dissolve about 2 cups of Epsom salt in your bathtub, stir with your hands to make sure it’s dissolved, and soak for about 20 minutes. You can also customize your bath with Himalayan pink salt (my favorite), mustard soaks, essential oils and so much more. For extra ambiance, dim the lights and burn a candle, insence or sage.

 

Tip #5: Dry brush your skin 

Dry skin brushing promotes cell renewal and blood  flow and helps the lymphatic system get rid of toxins. It’s also a great way to buff away dead skin cells and promote healthy, smooth skin. Get a natural brush, start at your feet, and make long sweeps towards your heart. You can find a dry brush at your local health food store or online.

 

Tip #6: Rest and Relax

Get at least eight hours of sleep every night during your reset. A good night’s sleep is fundamental to good health because your cells repair themselves more rapidly at night. During your hours of deep sleep, the body produces higher levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which promotes cellular renewal. Furthermore, since you are not eating while you sleep, your digestive system gets a break and your elimination processes can catch up. Try using a Fitbit to measure how much deep sleep, REM and other cycles you go through a night and see where you can improve.

In addition to resting your body, it is important to rest your mind. In other words, take a break from TV, newspapers, movies, and the internet, and make some quiet time for yourself. Use this deep revitalization period as an opportunity to consciously choose to relax or meditate for at least 20 minutes every day. Even five minutes is better than nothing.

The Workouts that are making you Fat

Do you ever wonder why you find food repulsive after weight training or are starving after a long yoga class or walk on the treadmill? I have been battling this question for years, concluding that I just wasn’t eating enough if I felt hungry after a workout. However, this assumption never added up because no matter what time of day I exercise (morning on an empty stomach) or evening after having breakfast and lunch, my workout will always deem varied results. The culprit of the food cravings you face come from two hormones – those confusing messages our adrenal glands send out that we have so much difficulty understanding – Leptin and ghrelin.

Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells, that decreases your appetite. Ghrelin is a hormone that increases appetite and also plays a role in controlling body weight.

Leptin is the appetite suppressor, and lower levels correlate with lower body weight, versus higher levels resulting in obesity. This hormone signals to the brain that the body has enough energy stores (body fat) to avoid overeating. However, studies have found that obese patients do not respond to leptin’s signals even though they have higher levels, which makes it difficult to regulate body weight.

Leptin acts as a mediator of long-term regulation of energy balance, whereas ghrelin is a fast acting hormone, playing a role in meal initiation. Research also points to diets higher in good carbohydrates (whole grains, starches) to aid in ghrelin suppression more effectively than diets higher in fat. One study demonstrated these results after only three days on a high fat diet!

Hormones and exercise

Studies have shown that low to moderate aerobic activity (i.e. walking or running 30 to 60 minutes every day, yoga, or barre) increases ghrelin and decreases leptin  - the opposite of what you want! The good news is that bursttraining workouts (think HIIT, boot camp fitness, 30- second sprints, etc. will lower ghrelin levels and conversely suppress your appetite), proving that for effective weight loss with lifelong results, simply walking on a treadmill every day (the most boring exercise in my opinion) just won’t do.

How to control hunger hormones

Studies show that getting enough sleep will suppress levels of ghrelin. Meaning, if you are depriving yourself of sleep (the best medicine for immunity, energy and overall health), you are increasing your hunger level compared with someone who is regularly sleeping 10 hours a night. A brief note on sleep: everybody varies on how much sleep they require to feel rested, but the majority of people require at least 8 hours. If you are getting any less than that, you are lying to yourself about feeling “fine”. When the body isn’t well rested, it requires more energy to push through the day, which is where the sugar and caffeine cravings kick in – especially in that midafternoon slump around 3 or 4 pm. This is also when many people feel lethargic and make unhealthy food choices. My advice for if you had a bad night’s sleep is to drink lots of water and power through the cravings until dinner. Drink herbal teas and non-caffeinated liquids (lemon water, perhaps?) and have a lot of water rich foods for dinner – raw vegetables, coconut water, etc.

Stop stressing

Studies show a direct link between stress levels and the release of ghrelin into the blood. That is why stress eating is a thing and so many people do it. How to combat stress? You can find plenty of information about meditation on my blog. You can also try journaling, taking a hot bath, adopting an adaptogenic mushroom routine (starting with your morning coffee), or reading before bed instead of using social media.

This is just the start

People who have suffered from disordered eating and yo-yo dieting have most often deregulated their hormones which leads to many issues including thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue and PCOS. In these instances, the hunger hormones will also be out of balance making it difficult to determine physical hunger from lethargy or eating out of boredom. This is also the reason that people find themselves binge eating on foods after a period of calorie deprivation. Research on hormones and the adrenal system is still very limited, but scientists are currently working on pills to treat obesity using these hormones. In the mean time, at least you have answers on how to determine hunger signals and choose exercise wisely. 

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Fitness Addict

Fitness fans will be covered from the inside out with various super food powders, trackers and music listening devices to ensure the ultimate workout.