Everyday Advice for the Working Millennial {Guest Post}

The professional lifestyles of today are more different and unconventional than ever before. Especially among millennials, career paths often involve non-traditional working environments and responsibilities, compared to the older, more established generations.

But while most millennials understand the importance of a work-life balance, that temptation to become consumed with our careers often takes priority over well-being. We tend to stick our own health on the backburner—not realizing the immense value of staying both physically and mentally fit in the long-term.

If this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, there are numerous strategies for balancing work and wellness, so here are some easy-to-implement solutions to keep that mind and body going strong!

work-and-wellness

Exercise Your Way to Happiness.

After a tiring workday, the first instinct is often to turn on Netflix rather than hitting the gym, but making time for exercise is a habit anyone can develop with conscious effort and persistence—even with a hectic schedule. If you’re not sure how to begin a workout regimen, just aim for completing 10,000 steps on a daily basis which promotes cardio strength and stamina. In addition to the physical benefits, exercise releases endorphins that alleviate stress or burnout too.

Meditate for Inner Peace.

Engaging in a mindfulness practice is among the most effective tools for stabilizing your emotions. Ancient forms of meditation, like pranayama or SuperBrain yoga (Thoppukaranam), keep the mind both alert and active. Not to mention, this deep conscious breathing ritual promotes balanced hormone levels and gives you an outlet for much-needed “me time.”

Eat Well and Eat Often.

Long work hours often lead to grabbing a quick bite at random intervals, choosing the convenient “fast food” option or skipping meals altogether. While a nutritious lunch might require more time and effort, consuming small portions of healthy foods on a frequent basis keeps the body satiated and the mind focused—without hunger pangs distracting you or processed ingredients draining your energy.

Don’t Be Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish.

Poor money management is a leading cause of stress, so it’s vital to maintain “financial health.” Spend at least 5 minutes each day tracking your expenses to make sure the bills are paid on time, the savings account is secure, the budget is still intact, and there’s enough cashflow remaining for an emergency fund too. When you aren’t worried about living paycheck to paycheck, that sense of freedom translates into a less anxious, more productive mind.

Do What Your Love.

Ultimately, it’s important to evaluate if your chosen career path brings happiness. You’ll spend about three-fourths of each day working, so you might as well pursue a job that gives you satisfaction. While it’s unrealistic to assume that professional success can guarantee 100% contentment, make sure you’re self-aware enough to recognize when a job starts compromising your quality of life. Offset this “occupational hazard” by dedicating time each week to non-work related passions and hobbies that create a sense of purpose you just won’t find in punching a clock.

Implementing these habits into your routine can dramatically enhance that work-life balance we should all be striving for. It’s a common pitfall to focus just on career ambitions—especially if you’re new to the workforce—but don’t allow this to become a long-term trend. Give yourself the time, space and permission to manage other aspects of life too. Your physical, mental and emotional wellness depends on it, after all.


Akshata Mehta has a passion for traveling and exploring the world. She loves to write, and is especially interested in sustainability for everyday life. Being a foodie, she also enjoys cooking up healthy concoctions in her kitchen, recording these recipes and more on her blog With Love From Akshata.

 

 

Sweat It Out With a Protein-Packed Snack Attack

There’s a 50/50 chance I might’ve *casually* mentioned once—maaaaybe twice—that I’m getting married in the near future. 160 days if you wanna get technical, but who’s counting?

Although I don’t buy into that stereotypical “wedding workout” mentality (fitness is a lifestyle, not some Must. Drop. Two. Dress. Sizes. For. The. Big. Day. thing), exercise does have a prominent place in my routine. That would still be true regardless of this whole bride-to-be caveat…but extra motivation a la Alfred Angelo never hurts either!

post pure barre

That time I dragged the (almost) hubs to Pure Barre…Couples who sweat together stay together, dontcha know!

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not just about turning heads on your walk down the aisle or rocking that honeymoon bikini you’ve ogled for months. Exercise relieves stress (pre-wedding jitters, anyone?), boosts productivity (those guest lists aren’t gonna write themselves!), and influences even more healthy habits too.

Like eating. A.K.A. the other part of this wellness equation. In order to sustain physical activity, our bodies need fuel. Mainly protein-dense fuel which promotes muscular development, strength and endurance, so we can keep moving for longer periods of time. Fact: no snacking repertoire—for pre-workout energy or post-workout recovery—is complete without this nutritional powerhouse.

Think raw almonds, steamed edamame, roasted chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, plain Greek yogurt and nut butters, for example. Or, need some further “nom”spiration? (Just invented a new word. No biggie.) Check out my Sweat Sesh Snack Attack go-tos for your protein loading pleasure!

protein post-workout snacks

Whether you’re #SweatingForTheWedding or craving a healthier alternative to Cool Ranch Doritos, these mindful munchies just reinvented snacktime. Yup…don’t underestimate the power of protein. This bride-to-be has spoken.


*For even more ideas, recipes and tidbits to pack your diet with protein,  Nuts.com  has you covered!

Netflix and…Don’t Chill!

On average, Netflix subscribers spend about 1 1/2 hours per day binge-watching their favorite shows. Which is 1 1/2 hours that could be devoted to exercise instead. But since the Netflix trend is here to stay—hey, fine by me!—why not put those multi-tasking skills to work rather than…you know…just sitting there?

If a show typically runs between 30 minutes and 1 hour, maximize this time by combining your daily Netflix binge with those easy-to-overlook-but-doesn’t-mean-you-should fitness commitments.

So, all you streamer extraordinaires, take a look at these suggestions for some no chill motivation…

stay active while watching netflix

 

1.  Sneak in Cardio Intervals:

  • 5 minutes of jogging in place
  • 3 minutes of skipping rope
  • 100 jumping jacks
  • 50 high-knee climbers
  • between 30-50 burpees

2.  Do Bodyweight Exercises: 

  • 3 minutes of planks
  • 1 minute of wall sits
  • between 50-100 pushups
  • between 50-70 squats
  • 50 lunges on each side
  • 50 lower abdominal curls
  • 50 bicycle crunches
  • between 20-30 leg lifts

3.  Keep Dumbbells On-Hand:

  • 30 arm circles in each direction
  • 30 overhead tricep extensions
  • between 20-30 overhead presses
  • between 20-30 bicep curls
  • between 20-30 lateral arm raises

4.  Practice a Yoga Sequence: 

  • 1 minute of modified bridge pose
  • 1 minute of seated twist pose on each side
  • 30 seconds of warrior 1 pose on each side
  • 30 seconds of tree pose on each side
  • between 20-30 seconds of chair pose
  • 10 seconds of triangle pose on each side
  • 10 seconds of downward dog pose
  • 10 seconds of upward dog pose

5.  Give Circuit Training a Try:

  • during scene 1, do a cardio exercise
  • during scene 2, do an upper body exercise
  • during scene 3, do a core exercise
  • during scene 4, do a lower body exercise
  • repeat during the remaining scenes

 

image courtesy of Pinterest

Alrighty. So, that’s how I tune into workout/streaming success. How do you fuel a Netflix addiction without skimping on physical activity? Lemme hear your fitness tips for a zero chill Netflix binge. And…go!

Healthy Habits to Keep the Odds (of Cancer) Ever in Your Favor

February is National Cancer Prevention Month—a cause which has deeply resonated with me over these last 10 years. And that’s due to one remarkable girl who, during the short time I knew her, impacted my life more than some people twice her age ever could.

February 25, 2006  will forever be etched into my memory. On this date, heaven gained an angel in the form of my childhood friend and role model, Kalyn Elizabeth High. I avoid using the expression “lost her battle” to describe Kalyn’s final moments here on earth—because that girl was the toughest fighter I have ever met, and osteosarcoma couldn’t crush her spirit or shake her faith.

But this disease did take an incredibly gifted 16-year-old away from a world who just didn’t want to say goodbye. So, throughout the past decade, I’ve become passionate about cancer awareness, research and prevention. Kalyn is the inspiration for this post, but anyone can benefit from the information.

After all…cancer doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, ethnicity or background. Cancer is ruthless. But we can stack the odds of survival—and even avoidance—in our favor. Check out these statistics from the American Center for Cancer Research:

Approximately 1/3 cases of the most common cancers in the U.S. could be prevented by eating healthy, being active and staying lean. That’s an estimated 374,000 cases of cancer in the United States that would never happen.

For practical and effective pointers on limiting your exposure to physical, chemical and environmental stressors that could put you at risk, I’ve teamed up with the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center, an online resource that warns against asbestos usage. This substance  is a leading cause of the rare but aggressive Mesothelioma and other lung cancers. 

As illustrated by the following infographics, cultivating simple habits throughout everyday life can make a positive, long-term impact on your overall wellness…

cancer prevention

healthy home checklist

Finally, remember—February might be Cancer Prevention Month, but these tips should be utilized year-round.

Kalyn…this one’s for you!

A Groom’s Take on “Sweating for the Wedding”

If you follow me on social media, you might’ve noticed my not-so-subtle references to recently getting engaged. BUT, if you follow almost any engaged woman on social media, you’ll be hard pressed to escape #SweatingForTheWedding posts.

In fact, this Instagram search yields 171,277 results—talk about a staggering number of body conscious brides-to-be! Yet, with all the emphasis placed on that “feminine ideal,” who could blame them?!

Since I’ve been tempted to dabble in said fitness fad (hellllooooo…this girl’s gotta fit into an Alfred Angelo dress 8 months from now!), I enlisted my future hubby for his stance on the subject. Thus, our discussion became a blog post.

Check it out, bridal beauties, straight from a guy’s POV:

Sweating for the Wedding

image courtesy of CNDY via Flickr Creative Commons  (changes have been made)

I’m fairly new to this whole “Sweating for the Wedding” thing. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed until my fiancĂ© brought me up to speed once I put a ring on her finger.

Now, after Googling the phrase, I can attest that “Sweating for the Wedding” has indeed gone viral. Brides can get dri-fit shirts with this hashtag printed across the front. There are even water bottles, car decals, sweat bands and more, urging women to jump on the bandwagon.

Listen, I’m all about exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but I also feel this trend could send a harmful message to some women—especially those who struggle with insecurities surrounding weight or body image.

Not to mention, if these insecurities are triggered by stress, they’ll escalate into overdrive once those wedding plans get underway. I’ve only been engaged for about a month, yet I can already vouch for all the time, energy and craziness that goes into this process. So, with the added pressure of sculpting that “perfect bod”…well, you’re eventually gonna crack.

While there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing fitness, “Sweating for the Wedding” is not a prerequisite for marriage. Your future husband already finds you sexy. He wouldn’t have pursued you in the first place if he wasn’t sexually attracted, right? Exactly. You’ve got nothing to prove.

Men are visual creatures. I am a man, so I’ll freely admit this. But I can also assure you that any guy, who kneels down and proposes, thinks the girl standing in front of him is drop-dead gorgeous. She’s the only woman he sees—guaranteed.

Anyone, who’s anxiously anticipating their wedding day, wants to turn their spouse’s head. However, when this goal manifests itself through extreme workout regimens, it could result in serious physical damage.

I hope my fiancĂ© knows that her appearance and physique will never disappoint me. From my—okay, biased—viewpoint, she’s the most beautiful woman alive, and my jaw will drop when I see her walk down the aisle. She doesn’t need to impress me…or anyone else, for that matter.  

Same goes for you other brides out there. Imagine how your husband will perceive you that day. After all, his devotion isn’t only surface-deep.

And, if you opt to workout beforehand, make it a bonding activity for both of you. Be each other’s accountability partner, so—rather than just “Sweating for the Wedding”—you’ll discover positive motivation for long-term health.  No hashtag needed.

******

Can you see why I’m marrying him, ladies? The dude’s a keeper (and my self-esteem levels concur)!

engagement 1

I’m painfully awkward sometimes.

engagement 2

But at least we clean up good.

 

Crunching the Numbers for Your Healthiest 2016

We’re 3 weeks into the New Year, people. How are those resolutions going?

Is your will-power a force to be reckoned with, or does your lack of motivation beg the question, “why even keep up this charade?”

Or, maybe you’re like me and would rather take a neutral stance on this whole “resolution” business. I believe in setting (and achieving!) positive intentions for self-improvement…but those stereotypical “must-fit-into-skinny-jeans-by-such-and-such-arbitrary-date” goals? Hard pass.

In order for any lifestyle change to have staying power, it’s gotta be 3 things—realistic,  fulfilling and sustainable. 

Exhibit A: “I will lose 15 pounds before bikini season.” Slim chance for long-term success. No action plan whatsoever…just wishful thinking, fueled by body shame. And, ultimately doomed to fail.

Exhibit B: “I will engage in regular physical exertion and choose whole foods over processed ingredients because my health takes priority.” Now, this meets all the requirements for success. A clearly stated initiative with tangible benefits and definitive follow-through potential. Ding…ding…ding. We have a winner!

So, in the interest of tackling realistic, fulfilling and sustainable (yep, those magic words are back!) wellness goals throughout 2016, I’ve teamed up with Chobani Simply 100® Crunch and their “crunch the numbers” fitness campaign.

You don’t need an expensive gym membership or unlimited free time to add more movement into your daily grind. If you’ve got a body and about 30 spare minutes, these 100 calorie-burning activities will be right up your alley. Take that, New Year’s resolutions! (mic drop—optional.)

12 fun ways to burn 100 calories

Special thanks to Chobani for providing the infographic featured in this post. I’m proud to support their Crunch the Numbers campaign to “live life lighter” throughout 2016.

Balancing the Crucial Connection Between Fitness & Nutrition

Due to the gradual development of poor lifestyle choices, such as unhealthy diet and irregular exercise, numerous Americans have begun exhibiting risk factors for high blood glucose, metabolic syndrome, cellular oxidative stress and other conditions associated with inadequate nutrition intake and fitness levels.

While the average person knows that consistent physical exertion must be sustained by wholesome eating habits, and vise versa, this balancing act is often difficult to maintain.

In a culture that values pre-packaged convenience over freshly prepared quality, many people consume an overabundance of artificial preservatives, toxic chemicals, saturated fats and refined sugars. These heavily processed ingredients cause unwelcome weight gain and can result in various medical concerns.

In addition, many people also lack the motivation to incorporate vigorous activity into their daily routines, so when combined with nutrient deficiency, a sedentary lifestyle could trigger the premature onset of serious cardiovascular issues.

To protect your body from these health hazards, practice eating whole foods and exercising every day until doing so becomes a ritual that no longer requires conscious effort.

Healthy eating woman holding a salad and smiling - isolated over white

A well-rounded diet includes plant-based proteins (e.g. beans, lentils, raw nuts, non-dairy milk); lean meats – unless you’re a vegetarian, of course! – (e.g. chicken, turkey, fish); whole grains (e.g. oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, spelt); low-sugar fruits (e.g. berries, avocados, papayas, oranges, melons); and leafy green vegetables (e.g. kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, lettuce).

These powerhouses contain essential nutrients, naturally-occurring chemicals, antioxidants and beneficial fats, rather than those harmful ingredients found in a typical fast food meal.

The other “puzzle piece” – habitual movement – combines aerobic (e.g. running, cycling, swimming, dancing, kickboxing) and anaerobic (e.g. weight lifting, push-ups, squats, crunches, resistance yoga) training.

Together, both disciplines promote muscle tone, cardiovascular strength, skeletal resilience, flexibility, endurance and physical energy. Your body needs these wellness properties to function optimally, experience longevity, and build defenses against illness or injury.

Becoming committed to proper fitness and nutrition can mean the difference between healthy aging and chronic disease development. However, the ultimate decision is yours: would you rather feel vibrant, active and nourished at the cellular level?

Or, are you content to keep avoiding exercise, frequenting the drive-through window and, potentially, suffering from metabolic syndrome or other weight-related complications?


Huge thanks to Nutri Lifescience, LLC, for supplying the research, content and graphics for this post.