When It Comes to Health, Live and Let Live

It might come as a surprise to those who already live a healthy life full of exercise, unprocessed foods, smoothies, fitness trackers, meditation, yoga mats, gym memberships, etc. that many people are not the least bit interested in getting healthy, nor are they interested in seeing your workout selfie or inspirational quote placed overtop a sunset, abdominal muscles or fierce lion. In fact, there are many who get downright annoyed with comments and social media posts that highlight your love of everything healthy. I’m here to tell you that you, yes you, have some haters out there. That’s okay, we’ll discuss why later on.

Last week I got involved with a Facebook thread that a good friend was already commenting on. You know, those threads that you follow and follow while telling yourself not to comment. The thread eventually becomes the equivalent of a plate of fresh, homemade, chocolate chip cookies that you’re walking past over and over. Eventually, willpower loses out and you scarf down a few cookies like a toddler eating birthday cake. In other words, I just had to comment. I had to get my 2 cents in. I mean, it pertained to exactly what I do for a living, my passion.

My opinion is valuable, right? No, not always.

The original status update was something like “I’d be healthy too if salads weren’t $7 and I had time to exercise!”. To this I tried to explain why that salad is so expensive in comparison to a hamburger. For example, I mentioned government food subsidies and how grains like corn and soy that feed cattle were given so much more than vegetables and so on. I posted a link to further explain what I was talking about. Yeah, I was educating people about an important issue that I was passionate about. Go me! Guess what? No one cared and not one person commented on the link I shared.

I won’t lie, this bothered me. I mean, how could they not care about why food prices are so unfair. Why, it seems, that our great nation cares more about money than the health of her people. Why it’s so important to support local farmers and economy. Why it pays to pay a little extra for quality food, even if the system is rigged. Why the food pyramid was based on the strength of industry opinion (and money) and not on the interest of preventative health care. Why, unless you have the money, following a healthy, nutrient dense diet is next to impossible. Why advertisers and celebrity doctors use manipulation and body shaming as a way to sell bullsh*t supplements to those looking for a quick fix. Why, it seems, that you simply can’t get or stay in shape unless you join a gym (You can). Why, it seems, that having a “normal” body and a “normal” diet is not good enough (it is), be it in television commercials, film or print ads.

Why why why why?

After marinating on all of this for a few days, I came to some profound personal realizations:

1. People have enough to worry about in life without having to research, study and fight the power that is a rigged system. 

2. People are so inundated with differing opinions on health, nutrition and fitness that it becomes a cluster of information, which makes it virtually impossible to know what is right and who to trust. 

3. My job as a coach and educator is not to stir the pot or attempt to spark a revolution towards everything wrong. It’s my duty to give answers, support, to inspire change through self care, little by little. 

4. People (including myself for many years) see those workout selfies and inspirational quotes as self serving humble brags that in no way inspires them to eat healthy or get in shape. Don’t get me wrong, many find a lot of inspiration in seeing the personal transformation of a peer. If posting such things holds you accountable, gives you fuel for the fire or gives you a sense of community, keep posting them as people always have the option to scroll past and move on.

5. There are those who, even with the proper knowledge, will never care to change their lifestyle in a way that could add years to their life, and guess what? THAT’S OKAY. 

Be well.

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Christopher Hostetler is an Integrative Health & Nutrition Coach, proud father, musician, writer and Muay Thai enthusiast residing in Los Angeles. He has made self evolution through nutrition, lifestyle, and mental and physical wellness his life’s work.

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The 6 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies of Plant-Based and Vegan Diets

I don’t promote or condemn any particular dietary theory. My job and passion is to support others in making their diet, whatever they choose, to be as healthy as possible. To help them nourish their bodies to live a happier, healthier life with more energy and less stress. So you will not find any lifestyle bashing in the words I write or say. With that being said, most of the time when someone chooses a restrictive diet they inevitably end up with common nutrient deficiencies that need to be made up with supplements or strategic planning.

The decision to eat a plant-based, vegan or vegetarian diet can be based on such things as environmental, religious, ethical or health concerns. About 2% of the population follows a plant-based diet while 1% follow a vegan lifestyle. Plant-based and vegan lifestyles are gaining a lot momentum these days and unfortunately there is A LOT of bad (and even dangerous) advice out there that is based on anecdotal evidence and bad science. This goes with every popular dietary theory whether it’s Veganism, Paleo, Macrobiotic, etc.

Below are the 6 most common nutrient deficiencies to watch out for if you or someone you care about follows a strictly plant-based or vegan diet:

Vitamin B12

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B12 is only found in reliable levels in animal foods. This makes supplementation with this vitamin absolutely essential for those who avoid animal products. You can get vitamin B12 from fortified products like grains and non-dairy milks. Also in nutritional yeasts.

Omega-3

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Some plant-based omega-3 rich fats (which are high in ALA) are flax, hemp, seaweed, walnuts, salba, etc. ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid) is converted inefficiently to DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) in the body, therefore it’s ideal for strict plant-based eaters to add a DHA/EPA supplement to their diet. Algae oil is a good option.

 Vitamin D

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Vitamin D is found in very few foods. ONLY foods fortified with vitamin D will provide any vitamin D if you’re eating a strictly plant-based diet. Also, be aware that there are different forms of vitamin D: D2 is animal free and D3 is animal derived. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. If you’re not getting enough sunlight, especially during winter months, supplementation is imperative.

Calcium

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Calcium is found in green leafy vegetables, fortified non-dairy beverages, calcium set tofu, nuts and legumes. If consumption of high calcium foods is sporadic, a supplement can be beneficial.

Iodine

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Many plant-based diets rely heavily upon soy foods for protein. It’s very important to know that eating a lot of soy-based foods can compromise thyroid function when iodine intake is lacking. Kelp and other sea veggies, green leafy vegetables, asparagus and sea-based salts are all good sources of iodine. If you’re not eating these foods, supplementation could be critical.

Zinc

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Zinc helps with many important functions like protein synthesis, immunity and blood formation. Zinc absorption from plant foods are lower than animal foods. Strict plant-based diets may need up to 50% higher than that of someone who eats animal products. Coffee, tea and calcium supplements between meals can maximize the zinc absorption from food sources.

Plant foods rich in zinc include quinoa, almonds, chickpeas, lentils, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, goji berries, aduki beans, pumpkin seeds and peanuts.

My general advice, no matter how you choose to eat, is to be cautious of cutting out entire food groups and to imagine your food as your life force, because it is. We have a habit of treating food like a one night stand; not caring where our food came from, and not wanting to think about it after we are done with it. As a society, if we learned more about where and how our food was produced, we would be healthier, happier, live longer AND our environment would be much better off. Treat your food choices like you would a loved one, with care and respect.

Be well.

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Christopher Hostetler is an Integrative Health & Nutrition Coach, proud father, musician, writer and Muay Thai enthusiast residing in Los Angeles. He has made self evolution through nutrition, lifestyle, and mental and physical wellness his life’s work.

Like what you’ve read? Sign up for the newsletter for more evidence-based tips on lifestyle, nutrition, health, fitness and wellness.

Don’t forget to connect! Support/Website – Donotdieyoung.com Like – Facebook Follow – Twitter Pin – Pinterest Look – Instagram

How You Can Find Health, Happiness and Freedom (from Someone Who Never Thought It Was Possible)

Sorry about that title above. I realize that it sounds tired and regurgitated like so many health and wellness articles. You know, the ones that certain friends endlessly share on Facebook and Twitter? You might be sick of hearing about a magical detox, meditation and finding yourself, and that’s okay. It’s safe to say that I read around 100 of those types of articles a week for research, and I’m here to tell you that I understand your contempt. But please don’t take this as a bashing or mockery of certain practices (some that I firmly believe in and use myself) that can be profoundly helpful to others, even if some of the benefits are short lived and permeate the scent of snake oil.

I didn’t get to where I am today by following any one particular dietary theory, new exercise routine or breathing technique, etc. But I did find optimal health, happiness and a new sense of freedom, so the title stays. True health and sustainable change involves experimentation, failures and many moving parts. It’s NOT EASY and there is no magical solution out there… unless you consider hard work and dedication a magical solution – if you do, I applaud you. Everyone has a different version of what health, happiness and freedom mean to them as an individual. Let’s take a look at the proper definition of each, shall we?

Health: The state of being free from illness or injury.

Happiness: A state of well-being and contentment. A pleasurable or satisfying experience

Freedom: The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.

 

Take a moment to reflect on and answer these questions:

How do you strive to be free from illness or injury?

Are you in a state of well-being and contentment and living a pleasurable or satisfying experience?

Do you feel imprisoned or enslaved?

 

Below are 5 suggestions from me; a gunshot survivor, someone who struggled with cravings and addictions and someone who never thought that finding health, happiness and freedom was ever possible:

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1. Don’t Allow Cravings to Ruin Your Life

I’m comfortable supporting clients with cravings (some people crave food like addicts crave drugs) and addictions because I’ve been there and understand how easily they can take the wheel and steer our lives down roads we would not go down otherwise. Cravings and addictions are deeply seeded and often never dealt with, leading to a truly unhealthy life (mentally, physically and spiritually) and often an early death.  

If you feel as if you can’t control your cravings or you find yourself managing your vices, know that this is not normal. Please talk to someone and look for support before it’s too late.

2. Stop Dieting

Diets are a $66 billion dollar industry in the US alone and they don’t work. Okay, they work for a short period and then *BOOM* the weight returns when the dieting stops. There are MANY reasons that diets just don’t work. From what your mother ate in the womb to the transfer of genetic material to our body clocks to environment to our gut bacterial population. Most often a diet seems to work because the chosen diet puts the body in a calorie deficit, which forces the body to use fat stores for energy causing weight loss. This is the way to lose weight quickly and has made many people incredibly rich off of some simple calorie calculating. 

Beware that this type of dieting often causes eating disorders, guilt about eating, decline in physiological processes, concentration, comprehension and overall judgment. If your idea of good health only equals losing some weight you might want to reevaluate what being heathy really means to you, especially in the long term.

3. Believe in Something Bigger than Yourself

Whether it’s the universe, Buddha or the love you feel for your child, the belief in something bigger than ourselves helps to curb ego and give life more meaning.  

Happiness is an elusive concept, find it where you can.

4. Newtrition

Forget what your friends, family or coworkers have to say about what you should be eating because 99.9% of the time they’re wrong. The nutritional and chemical make-up of each individual is different and therefore dietary needs vary from person to person. Finding what’s best for YOU as an individual is key.

A great place to start down this path is to try an elimination diet to acquaint yourself with any food sensitivities that could be causing problems without you even knowing it.

5. Habits Become Lifestyle

Find your reason to add new and healthy habits slowly into your life as they will eventually become part of your lifestyle. This is the root of sustainable health. Some of the benefits of tearing down the house and rebuilding piece by piece are clarity, strength, weight loss, less pain, less depression, a more positive outlook, joy, happiness, freedom, younger looking skin, more stamina, a leaner body, better sex, less cravings, less fear and better sleep.

Simply put, it feels good to feel good. Not to mention that you’re adding healthy and vibrant years to your life!

 

Be well.

 

 

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Christopher Hostetler is an Integrative Health & Nutrition Coach, proud father, musician, writer and Muay Thai enthusiast residing in Los Angeles. He has made self evolution through nutrition, lifestyle, and mental and physical wellness his life’s work.

Like what you’ve read? Sign up for the newsletter for more evidence-based tips on lifestyle, nutrition, health, fitness and wellness.

Don’t forget to connect! Support/Website – Donotdieyoung.com Like – Facebook Follow – Twitter Pin – Pinterest Look – Instagram

 

Get Fit, Healthy and Still Eat Pizza and Pancakes

It’s Friday night, you’ve been SO “good” with your diet of late. You have plans to get dinner with friends you haven’t seen in a while, you get a text that they’re picking your favorite pizza place on earth. You smile and begin to salivate thinking about that ooey gooey cheese and those bread sticks… THOSE BREAD STICKS! And then you think about the progress you’ve been making with your health, you think about those vision goals and all the hard work you’ve been putting in, you think about how that pizza and those evil breadsticks will ruin everything. You then get depressed and make an excuse not to join your friends for dinner and end up having a green smoothie instead. Cue the sad trombone.

Bummer. Maybe this eating healthy thing isn’t for you? Maybe this crazy way of living will take all the “fun” out of life?

I’m here to tell you to go ahead and eat the pizza. Seriously, eat the damn pizza. I always get the “ummm, but you shouldn’t let me eat things like that, right?” look whenever I tell a friend or client to just eat the food. How could a Nutrition Coach promote eating badly, you might be asking yourself? Well, I’m not. A healthy lifestyle is all about PATTERNS and not about one meal or one day out of the calendar. Plus, it’s imperative to an enjoyable life to have close friendships, to let go a little and most importantly, to realize that food is not the enemy. What is the enemy? Repeated bad choices that we never learn from. These ongoing decision are what lead us to be overweight, unhealthy, depressed, lethargic and often lead to disease.

Whether you’re trying to lose 20 pounds, trying to get shredded OR you’re a high level athlete in training, the occasional fun meal is important for your overall wellbeing. Good food can be one of the great joys of life. The following tips will help you kickstart your way to a life of joyful, sustainable, optimal health.

90/10

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Eat any food you want in up to 10% of your meals; in the other 90% eat foods that will fuel your mind and body to success. I strongly suggest removing fast food and highly processed foods from your diet completely. In my opinion, these are simply not food at all. But if you’re used to having fast food multiple times a week try cutting back a meal each week until you’re down to zero. The less rigid you are, the better chance you have in making these lifestyle changes sustainable.
NOTE: Make sure you do the math (I know, I know – everyone hates math) when attempting this style of eating. For example, if you’re eating 4 meals/snacks per day through the week – that equals 28 meals. 10% of 28 meals is about 3 meals. So, you’re allowed to “break the rules” 3 meals each week.

NO CHEAT MEALS

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I loathe this popular term in the health and fitness world. The thing is when you “cheat” it implies that you’re doing something terribly wrong. Those who always talk about (or hashtag) cheat meals are usually the ones who eat way more unhealthy food than they think. Do you take cheat naps? How about cheat vacations? Catch my drift?

DON’T BINGE EAT

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Binge eating can downright DESTROY any progress that you have going for you and make you feel terrible. Binge eating all day does not equal a cheat meal contrary to what some in the fitness world preach.

The 10% can have some foods that might not fit into your plan like a couple of slices of pizza, a beer or glass of wine after dinner a couple of nights a week, a slice of pie once a week, some sourdough waffles for brunch, etc.

The best way to stay on course is to schedule your 10% meals ahead of time. Pick a day and your meal just like you would a certain time to exercise or meditate. This will keep you committed and give you a little something to look forward to.

*As mentioned above, I highly recommend ridding your diet of fast food and heavily processed foods. Try not to consume these in your 10% meals. I thought I’d mention that again for good measure.

MAKE YOUR 10% HEALTHIER

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With a little practice, you can turn your 10% meals into healthy options that fit into your 90%.

From pizza to pancakes, you can hack those usually unhealthy meals and turn them into delicious, healthy, nutrient dense meals that stay within the lines of good nutrition.

Many of my clients are amazed when they learn how simple it is to shift unhealthy meals to healthy meals. It’s also pretty fun to experiment! Eventually you will decrease that 10% without even noticing (or missing) those not-so-healthy choices.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

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Do you get angry or frustrated as you are trying to get healthy, transform your body or change your overall lifestyle? Well, good. Yes, good. Use that frustration as fuel to step it up even more. Don’t direct that anger at your coach or trainer. You are being coached based on knowledge and experience. Keep in mind that most any coach or trainer you will hire has dealt with very similar experiences in their past. In other words, they know your pain and are there to help you succeed, that’s why they chose their profession: they want to change lives.

You might be thinking that a plan/program just isn’t working. The thing is, the plan/program, if created by a caring and knowledgable coach or trainer will usually work. Maybe it’s YOU that is not working the program to your best ability? Of course, this is not always the case as there are rotten apples out there.

Take responsibility, trust your coach or trainer, dive in head first and trust the process.

BE ACCOUNTABLE

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When making positive changes, tell your friends and family. Form a tribe of like-minded individuals by making some new friends at the gym, yoga, martial arts class, etc. Join new Facebook pages based on your health mission, search out local workshops that coincide with your health, nutrition and fitness interests, post progress pictures on line or share with a close friend(s) who support you.

Tell your friends, family, coach or trainer to hold you to it. Let them know that it’s okay to push you if you start to sway or doubt yourself.

NOTE: Beware those who use “tough love” as it usually ends up to being belittling or condescending. If it feels like someone is crossing the line from motivating talk to mean talk – run or the hills.

MIND BODY SPIRIT

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If you’re making lifestyle changes just to get rock hard abs or a better butt, you are missing the most important elements of self evolution. While aesthetics are important and can be rewarding, eventually they will lose that new car smell. Strive to shift your entire life perspective.

Search out ways to improve yourself holistically, remember that it is all intimately interconnected and losing a few pounds is only part of the whole.

Go with an integrative approach to self care by searching out someone who can not only give you advice on personalized nutrition but someone who can help heal your gut (where health starts), teach you meditation techniques, help you find exercise that is right for you as an individual. Someone who will support you in finding balance between Primary Foods (spirituality, jobs, relationships, recreational and physical activities) and Secondary Foods (what’s on your plate). This is where real and sustainable change will truly take place for you.

 

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Christopher Hostetler is an Integrative Health & Nutrition Coach, proud father, musician, writer and Muay Thai enthusiast residing in Los Angeles. He has made self evolution through nutrition, lifestyle, and mental and physical wellness his life’s work.

Like what you’ve read? Sign up for the newsletter for more evidence-based tips on lifestyle, nutrition, health, fitness and wellness.

Don’t forget to connect! Support/Website – Donotdieyoung.com Like – Facebook Follow – Twitter Pin – Pinterest Look – Instagram

Age Is Just a Number and I Hate Math

I woke up with a head full of a million thoughts streaming like shooting stars across my brain. So, I quickly brushed my teeth, got dressed and made my way to a coffee shop where I now sit attempting to form some sort of meaningful constellation pattern. My head and heart have been in overdrive lately. I attribute it to my birthday, which is under a week away: the big 4-0.

Yes, the dreaded 40. For months now I’ve been joking about how it’s going to feel to turn 25 or 30. Always chuckling but secretly wishing those numbers were still there to be achieved. I’ve come to realize, this morning, that journeying into this new decade has spun me like a top. Introspection, doubt, fear, you name it – they’ve all been simmering in my life stew… and it’s time to ring the bell.

Soup is on.

Knowing that the three big C’s (Compare, Contrast, Control) are incredibly detrimental to my life, I’m usually hyper-aware when any of the three start creeping into my subconscious and quickly squash them before they see the light of day… not lately, unfortunately. I’ve been comparing myself with other fathers, business owners, successful friends, you name it. I’m wondering how I can control aging and the inevitable death of friends and family. I’m regretting choices I’ve made in the past and have a truck load of resentments toward myself. I’m wondering how 40 came so damn fast. All of this is toxic and poisons us both physically and spiritually.

Inhale.

Upon further reflection, these are my truths:

-I’ve dedicated my life to self evolution through nutrition, education, fitness and a spiritual path.

-I support others in the same way using evidence-based methods and my life experiences.

-The change that I’ve gone through (and continue to go through) in recent years is nothing short of miraculous. With that being said, I put in more work than some will ever know. For many years I doubted that I would even make it to my 4th decade on this planet and this week I will reach that milestone!

-I’ve never felt healthier, stronger or more focused in my life.

-My confidence in helping others is tremendous and my dedication to being the best father, partner, son, friend and coach is unbreakable.

-I can hold my head high, look others in the eyes and know that I am trying my best in everything I do. These things are what make a man.

Unfortunately, there is no solution for getting older but there are solutions to remedy these feelings that may surround big life events. Ways to get us back to our happy place. I hope my thoughts can help those out there that might be turning 40, 80 or just having a big life moment. Be sure to give yourself some credit for where you are because where you are now is right where you’re supposed to be.

Exhale.

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Christopher Hostetler is an Integrative Health Coach, proud father, musician, writer and Muay Thai enthusiast residing in Los Angeles. He has made self evolution through nutrition, lifestyle, and mental and physical wellness his life’s work.

Like what you’ve read? Sign up for the newsletter for more evidence-based tips on lifestyle, nutrition, health, fitness and wellness.

Don’t forget to connect! Support/Website – Donotdieyoung.com Like – Facebook Follow – Twitter Pin – Pinterest Look – Instagram

The Second Best Thing You Can Do Naked

Many of us have had this dream: there’s a fire in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping and you have to wake up, grab your loved ones, pets and run outside. You’re standing (for me it’s out in freezing temperatures in a foot of snow, even though I live in Southern California) in front of your house ablaze. You’re standing there while neighbors gather and firefighters run around. You’re standing there in your birthday suit! Had that dream?

The chances of that ever happening are slim to none, so let that fear go. Now, let’s get back to the most important part of said dream, that you were sleeping naked. Some can’t sleep any other way, while others would never think of going to bed in the buff. I’m here to tell you that there are numerous benefits of sleeping in the bare minimum.

Case in point: I had a client who was suffering from severe anxiety upon waking, paired with insane cravings for unhealthy food like donuts and fast food breakfast sandwiches. I suggested ideas like taking time to meditate before getting out of bed, less water before bed, not eating 3 hours before sleep, etc. Not one of these suggestions made a dent in the cravings or morning anxiety and depression. After digging a little deeper I found that they were sleeping in several layers of clothing while cranking the heat in their apartment – BINGO! After the somewhat awkward suggestion that they try sleeping nude for 7 days (if you’re wondering… yes, they did think that I was bat sh*t crazy for suggesting such a thing) and monitor their mornings, the cravings and anxiety were all but gone.

Confused as to how sleeping nude could have had any impact on their morning struggles? After playing detective, I realized that they might be suffering from high cortisol levels due to being overheated at night. Number 1 of the following list of 5 Benefits of Sleeping Nude will explain further how I came to this conclusion.

1. It helps regulate cortisol

When you sleep naked, it helps keep your body temperature at preferred ranges allowing your body to better create and regulate cortisol. If you’re overheated while you sleep, your cortisol levels will be high. This continues even after you wake up and can lead to anxiety, cravings even weight gain.

2. It keeps your sex organs healthy

Women, more air and cooler temperatures help prevent yeast infections.
Men, sleeping at cooler temperatures keeps your reproductive system functioning properly and your sperm happy and healthy.

3. Balanced melatonin and GH levels

Keeping your bedroom under 72 degrees can help your body with regulating melatonin and growth hormone levels. When sleeping in clothes, the high temperatures prevent your body from optimal use of these hormones. Sleeping nude can literally help keep you stay younger longer.

3. Better self esteem

Have body confidence Issues? Sleeping nude each night can help you learn to love yourself. When you become accustomed to how you look naked, over time it can ease (and even erase) those negative thoughts that so many of us struggle with.

4. Skin to skin

Skin to skin touching with your partner can help alleviate stress and depression by releasing the feel-good hormone called Oxytocin. Oxytocin also helps reduce blood pressure and decreases inflammation in the body. Added bonus: your sex life might just improve, which, by the way, is the first best thing you can do naked.

5. It helps prevent laziness

When we wake up nude we are much more inclined to get dressed for the day instead of staying in our PJs and slobbing around the house for half the day. Get moving, get motivated, get things done.

Give sleeping naked a shot and see how it can benefit you.

 

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Why Waking before Sunrise Will Upgrade Your Life

Not that many years ago, you could find me in bed until 11 on most days of the week. Hell, I clearly remember waking at 2 or 3 in the afternoon after many a rough night. Even on work days, I would wake up at the last possible moment, rush to get dressed, and always get to work with no more than a minute or two to spare. It was part of my routine. I still know many people who follow similar patterns. Sound familiar?

My oh my, how times have changed! As a business owner and father of a very, umm, enthusiastic 2 year old, my plate gets so full that it often spills all over the floor, making a sticky mess that I must clean up (figuratively and quite literally). Being a stay at home dad, running my business, focusing on self care, continuing education and trying to be a loving and supportive partner is incredibly stressful, tiring and time consuming. Getting some personal time to relax, or just enjoy a cup of coffee in peace can seem like a mini vacation. I know that the parents and those with extremely busy schedules out there know exactly what I’m talking about.

What if I said that there was a way to not only add more time to your day, but find more peace of mind, be more productive, get some much needed relaxation AND time to enjoy that beloved cup of zen? There is, my friends. Is it easy? NO, not at first. At first you will wonder why in the hell you ever listened to that Do Not Die Young guy in the first place! But trust me and give waking up before sunrise a shot for just 30 days. I guarantee it will change your life forever or you’ll get a full refund…wait, this is free advice, just trust me.

*Note: I don’t advise waking before sunrise if it means that you will only be getting a few hours of sleep. Proper sleep is vital to your health and should never be skimped on, if you can help it. I work well on anything from 5-8 hours of sleep, personally. Find your sweet spot when it comes to hours of sleep per night. Knowing exactly what you need to make it through the day with ample energy is key to a happy life and extremely important when attempting this new routine. It may take a week or so to figure out your sweet spot, so don’t worry, you got this.

Below are my 5 favorite benefits of waking before the sunrise:

1. Productivity

My mornings have become the most productive time of day for me. Whether it’s checking and replying to emails, finishing a blog (as I’m doing now), having a session with a client in a different country, or simply making a list of what needs to be done that day. Getting a jump start in the morning lowers my stress level during the day and gives me more precious family time in the evening.

2. Exercise

There is something to be said for walking into the gym before sunrise. There’s a higher level of focus, a deeper connection with the body. I train Muay Thai and will most likely never enter the ring for a real fight, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t take it as seriously as those who are preparing for the ring at 6am. Try applying this line of thinking to whatever your choice of exercise is be it jogging, yoga or just a few minutes on the treadmill (this song is completely optional). On top of that, it’s a way to get a workout in before you can make ay excuses.

3. Peace

In my opinion, there is no better time to meditate or just collect one’s thoughts than before sunrise. Think about it: no kids, no television, no phone calls, no social media, no traffic outside, no noise. Just your mind and a city that’s still asleep. Think. Breathe. Meditate. Read. Relax. Clear your mind.

4. Better Sleep

When you go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, your body is naturally more in tune with the earth’s circadian rhythms. That equals more solid, restorative sleep.

5. YOU Time

Probably the most beneficial of all. Having quality private time to reflect, read, exercise, shower, eat breakfast, etc. is something that many of us don’t hold at a high enough priority. Sitting with one’s self and reconnecting is so very important to the way we view the world, the things we are grateful for, our overall optimism and the way we think about ourselves. Waking before sunrise allows us to get to know who we really are before the world inevitably attempts to tell us.

 

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise” -Benjamin Franklin

 

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Sex is the New Kale

What thoughts come to mind when someone says the word HEALTHY? Bland salads? Drinking green juice? Never eating pizza or french fries again? Increasing your grocery bill by a grand a month? Taking all kinds of supplements? How about the thought of going to the gym when it’s the last thing you want to do? Any of those thoughts pop up?

How about this thought: Having more sex. Did that come to mind? I didn’t think so.

Sex is so often overlooked for it’s health benefits that it should be a crime. From reducing stress to creating greater intimacy between partners, sex should be a key component in your healthy lifestyle. And it’s not all about feelings and greater self-esteem, either. Sex can help you live a longer, happier, more enjoyable life. Below are 5 health benefits of everyone’s favorite pastime:

1. Sex is Exercise

Sex strengthens muscles, just like exercise. Sex also burns between 3 and 5 calories per minute. It can also strengthen your core and improve balance and flexibility.

2. Sex Helps You Sleep

Ever wonder why you’re more tired after sex than a grueling hike or intense workout session? The “love hormone” oxytocin released during orgasm, promotes sleep. The hormone prolactin is also released after sex, which can help with sleep.

3. Sex Relieves Stress

Sex releases feel-good chemicals that ease stress, promote pleasure and help raise self-esteem.

4. Sex Boosts Immunity

Those who have sex once or twice a week have higher levels of the antibody called Immunoglobulin A. IgA can protect you from colds and other infections.

5. Sex is a Pain Reliever

Sex releases a hormone that helps raise your pain threshold. It can also block chronic back and leg pain. Suffer from arthritis or menstrual cramps? Sex can help with those as well.

Along with these 5 there are numerous benefits of sex, such as reducing prostate cancer risk, lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health and improving your overall well-being. Sex is great for you and the benefits go well beyond the bedroom walls. NOTE: it doesn’t take the place of proper nutrition and exercise, but should be considered a very important part of your healthy lifestyle.

Now go make some love, beautiful people.

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How to Step up Your Game This Super Bowl Sunday

Over 100 million people are anticipated to watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots this Super Bowl Sunday. The game is an American tradition like no other. There is another tradition that goes along with the big day: insane amounts of food and alcohol.

In fact, Super Bowl Sunday beats out Thanksgiving for the quantity of calories consumed. Researchers from Cornell found that the average viewer will eat more than 6,000 calories by the end of the day. To put that into perspective, that's around 3 days worth of calories in one day.

What it would take to burn off those 6,000 calories? 

– 11 hours of competitive tennis

– A 24 hour walk

– 22 hours of yoga

– A 9 hour jog

– 13 hours on the elliptical

– 8 hours straight of jumping rope

– An 11 hour bike ride.

super-bowl-dude-food-

Let's be completely honest here, who even begins to contemplate exercise after watching the Super Bowl? Exactly.

Super Bowl Sunday could very well be the catalyst for many to start giving up on their New Year Resolutions. After consuming hot wings, cheese fries, pizza, nachos, beer, beer and more beer – the thought of going back to "more greens" or "more exercise" sounds much less appealing than it did just 24 hours before kick-off. And if you are not already living a somewhat healthy lifestyle, SBS could be just the toxic load needed to push you back over that unhealthy edge.

Realize that food and alcohol companies are banking on your overindulgence! Why do you think they spend SO much more money on advertising on the day of (and leading up to) the biggest game in sports? They know full and well that consumers will shell out up to $1.01 billion on beer alone. That number does not even include restaurants, bars, hotels or the stadium itself, according to Nielson. Also realize that these companies care nothing, nada, zero, zip about your health. In the end, you are simply feeding the beast.

I based a lot of this conversation on calories because calories are easily measured. I don't necessarily preach calorie counting in my practice, nor do I recommend that you sit around counting calories before, during and after the game. Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday, even indulge a bit. On days such as this, a little perspective + mindful eating and drinking can go a very long way.

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Have your own game-plan, coach:

1. Start your day off with a filling, nutrient-dense meal

A large vegetable omelette or bowl of oatmeal topped with your favorite berries will help you through the whole day. There is nothing worse than showing up ravenous to a party!

2. Sweat

You are about to watch some of the most fit and agile athletes on the planet! Use that as inspiration and get in a pre-game workout. Even if it's a short jog, a little will go a long way.

3. Take a time out

Like any good coach, use commercials or time outs to assess your situation. Are you already full? How many beers or other alcoholic beverages have you had? Are you having a glass of water per alcoholic drink? It's too easy to mindlessly eat and drink while the game is happening.

4. Go for homemade

Reach for nutrient-dense, real foods. Stay away from the "as seen on tv" foods as they are almost always guaranteed to be sugar/salt/fat/grease bombs.

5. Greens and Proteins

Reach for the veggie tray and guacamole. Try to choose a protein source that hasn't been deep-fried or covered in cheese. These foods will keep you satiated longer and help with decisions as the day goes on.

 

Check yourself with these simple questions:

1. Do I need to overindulge on food to truly enjoy this day?

2. Do I need to drink copious amounts of alcohol to enjoy this day?

3. Am I nourishing or damaging my body?

4. How am I going to feel tomorrow?

5. Is it worth it?

Whichever team you might be rooting for, I wish you the best of luck! Enjoy the game and the festivities.

Maybe this Super Bowl Sunday we can all step up our game?

Be well.

 

Beware the Devil in the Details

I meditate. I eat an extremely healthy diet. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I help others. I exercise. I try to be a great partner. I try to be the best dad in the world. I try to be a good son. I try to be a good brother. I try to be a trusted friend. I try to apologize when I’m wrong. I recycle. I conserve. I vote. I spend nights thinking about how I could be better at all of these things.

But sometimes….

Meditation just doesn’t work. I want to devour pizza and/or cake. I want to slam a shot of whiskey. I want to buy a pack of camels. I want to rip a monstrous bong hit. I want to tell that same homeless guy asking for change to just f*ck off. I want to sit on the couch in my boxers all day. I want to start an argument for no reason. I just want some peace and quiet. I don’t feel like explaining myself. I want to only talk about myself and my problems. I don’t want to pick up the phone or return a text. I want to blame others and leave it at that. I want to throw it all in one can to save a trip. I want to take an hour-long shower. I want to give up on politics completely. I want to take the easy way out. I want to return to my old motto of “F__k It!”.

It’s especially hard to stay on track when the feng shui of life gets altered. We are all creatures of habit and things like sickness, financial insecurity and death can spin us like a top. It’s in those times we are tested at our core. It’s at those times we truly get in touch with the fabric of our being. It’s at those times that the decisions that we make are the most important.

I’m creeping out of one of those times now. I was jarred after losing a family member last week and that midnight-black shadow of sadness landed hard. In turn, I instantly felt the need for those toxic comforts that I used to associate with personal healing. Being solid in my resolve, I just ended up exercising less, watching a million episodes of Friday Night Lights and ordering pizza one night. Not so bad, considering the alternatives. Keep in mind that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional comforts to help soften the blow of life’s harsh realities. But one must beware the deep black hole of indulgence… It can be addictive, literally. Most importantly for me, I made it a point to be there for my family, even if distance only allows “being there” in the way of phone calls and video chats. Right and good decisions have a way of offsetting the not-so-good ones.

Unfortunately for many, those toxic choices are made daily as a way to deal with the common stress triggers of everyday life. Those choices might be derailing your existing healthy, fit lifestyle, or even holding you back from finally taking the step towards a better life. What seems like an ordinary and commonplace decision is often the devil in the details. Habits become lifestyles and those details eventually mesh with all the other colors of existence.

Things like having to have a scotch right after work, sleeping past noon on weekends, wearing pajamas all day, frequent conversations with friends involving judgement or making fun of others, regularly grabbing takeout food because of a long day at work, skipping opportunities to exercise, spending an hour on Facebook instead of taking care of responsibilities, etc.

These types of actions, which are admittedly common amongst so many of us, are many times just what is needed to begin or continue down the unhealthy path. Some hold larger red flags than others but all can wreak havoc on our lives.

Be well and beware the devil in the details.

 

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Christopher Hostetler is an Integrative Health & Nutrition Coach, proud father, gunshot survivor, musician, writer and Muay Thai enthusiast residing in Los Angeles. He has made self evolution through nutrition, lifestyle, and mental and physical wellness his life’s work.

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