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    Mental Nutrition

    Mental Nutrition

    From Michael Mastrucci (@themacrodiabetic)

    We often associate things like exercise and diet with physical improvement while mental-specific activities like reading keep our mind sharp. However, something I don’t see or hear enough of is how our food choices play into our mental state.

    At one point, we all learned how to track calories/macros and how this affected our physique. Through this, we discovered how to manipulate food choices to allow us the ability to fit “fun” foods into our diet plan. While I’m a proponent of flexible dieting, there’s plenty of people that take these “fun” foods (or more of an IIFYM approach) to an extreme.

    I believe it’s important to find a balance between both nutrient-dense and nutrient-void foods to allow you to truly enjoy your nutritional protocols…but if consistently leaning towards more nutrient-void foods begs the question; have you ever considered how food affects your mind?

    Whether it’s the ability to focus for long periods, processing information, or just clear-headed decision making, your brain NEEDS nutrients just as much as your body.

    While everyone runs on different wavelengths, and some can get away with a more “loose” sort of diet, it’s extremely important to pay attention to not only how our food choices make us feel or operate physically, but mentally as well.

    Enjoy that donut, cereal, ice cream, or whatever treats you love indulging in, but don’t rob yourself of proper fuel just because it fits your macros.

    3 Reasons You're Still Not Losing Weight by Lynette Marie

    3 Reasons You're Still Not Losing Weight by Lynette Marie

    You’re putting in the work of counting calories and watching what you eat...and you’re still not losing weight! Sound familiar? Fat loss and mindset coach Lynette Marie has three great reasons this might be happening.


    REASON 1: You’re not tracking accurately enough.


    Counting your calories? Keeping track of every gram of fat that goes into your mouth? You might be sabotaging your efforts by only counting 70% accurately. Every time you “just have a bite” without tracking it you’re taking in more than you might think — it’s simple math!


    A nibble of chocolate here, a few chips there, and we’re talking possibly 200–300 untracked calories a week. 


    Now, obsessively tracking every piece of food you eat can be a huge chore. If the idea of jotting down EVERYTHING you eat is too oppressive, a better strategy might be to aim for smaller portion sizes and healthier choices.


    REASON 2: Your calorie goal is set too high.


    The macro or calorie counter you found online is not a gold standard. There is no perfect, magic calorie number that is right for your body. Somebody saying “this is a calorie deficit for you” does not make it automatically true.


    So, if you’ve stuck to your guns regarding calories and you’re still not seeing progress, your calorie goals could simply be too high. Try dropping your goals by 50–75 calories a day and see what effect that has.


    REASON 3: Your calorie goal is set too low — and triggering overeating.


    Many people simply aren’t taking in enough calories to stave off serious hunger, which leads to emotional overeating or binging. If your calorie goals leave you craving food to the point where it seems unbearable, there’s a chance your goals are simply too low.


    Try upping your intake 50–75 calories a day to see if that helps keep those hunger pangs at bay. It may actually prevent you from taking in an extra 150 from a binge session!



    Stay connected with Lynette on

    Want to be featured as an "Everyday ICON?" Submit your stories to info@iconmeals.com or send us a DM on IG or Facebook!

    Simple Hacks to Build Immunity & Avoid Sickness by Shawn Wells

    Simple Hacks to Build Immunity & Avoid Sickness by Shawn Wells

    No one wants to get sick, or aid the spread of this virus. What can we do to keep ourselves safe and healthy?

    Our number one defense against sickness is a strong immune system. Without an immune system, our bodies would be open to attack from microscopic threats like bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Involving many types of cells, organs, and proteins, this system’s job is to distinguish our tissue from foreign tissue. If the immune system encounters an antigen (aka. pathogen, bacterium, virus, parasite etc.) it triggers an immune response, and the body fights to dispose of this foreign invader.

    If your immune system is weak or overall unhealthy, your body’s response will be less able to fight antigens and you’ll be more vulnerable to getting sick and developing more severe symptoms.

    What do we do during viral seasons? We load up on vitamins, medications and disinfectants. While I’m not dissuading the importance of these things, it’s important to remember:

    Healthy immunity starts with a healthy body.

    The best way to boost your immune response is to improve your overall well being. Are you eating whole, nutrient-dense foods? Are you getting enough sleep and fresh air? What is your overall stress level?

    • Things that weaken the immune system:
    • Poor diet (sugar-rich, processed foods with additives)
    • Smoking
    • Excessive alcohol intake
    • Sleep deprivation
    • Dehydration
    • Obesity
    • Stress
    • Antibiotics
    • Not maintaining regular exercise

    In contrast, here are some easy lifestyle habits that can improve your overall health and boost immunity:

    Eat a whole food diet: It is always important to avoid processed foods and prioritize a whole, nutrient-dense diet, but especially when we fear our immune system may become compromised. We’ll get into more details about eating for immunity below.

    Get adequate sleep: Sleep is SO essential and most of us don’t get enough of it. While we sleep, our bodies shift into “restoration mode”, producing higher levels of hormones, chemicals and white blood cells which heal wounds and fight infection. This study, which appears in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, explains the core relationship between sleep and immunity.

    Right now, as we practice social distancing and home isolation, is the perfect time to catch up on sleep and establish a better schedule for when life goes back to normal. The most beneficial snoozing hours are before midnight.

    Minimize stress: Mental stress is one of the most detrimental factors against building immunity. Minor stress is normal. But if your job, relationship or financial situation is eating away at your mental health, keep in mind that it’s doing the same to your physical body. When you’re mentally overwhelmed, the body puts the immune system at the bottom of the priority list.

    Keep checking in with yourself. Pinpoint anything that may be causing you unhealthy amounts of stress, and see how you can change or eliminate it.

    Pro tip: A daily meditation and/or yoga practice is proven to lower stress and anxiety.

    Wash your hands & disinfect your phone: This goes without saying, but often people don’t realize how many germs we carry on our phones. For hands, use soap and hot water. Wash for 20 seconds, and don’t forget between the fingers and under the nails. Rubbing Alcohol makes a great daily disinfectant for phones and other devices.

    Exercise: Observational studies show that those who exercise tend to suffer fewer infections that those who do not. Whether it’s a walk in the park, jog, yoga practice or online fitness class, aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

    Get fresh air: Especially when facing a lung-targeting virus, breathing fresh air is imperative. Inside, we primarily breathe pathogen-laden recirculated air. Going outside gives our lungs a chance to discharge toxins, increase oxygen intake and lower cortisol.

    Hydrate: A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your weight in ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 170lbs, aim to consume 85oz (2.5 litres) of water daily. If you feel cold, herbal tea is a great alternative.

    Sauna (ideally Infrared): This form of thermotherapy has been used for thousands of years for hygiene, health, social, and spiritual purposes. The extreme heat raises your core body temperature by 1°-2°C, inducing an artificial fever and triggering the body’s defence system accordingly. This study at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia explains on a cellular level how regular sauna use reinforces the body’s defence mechanisms.

    Pro tip: alternate between hot and cold (ex. sauna and cold plunge) to maximize benefits.

    Lymphatic Massage/Dry Brushing: The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport white blood cells throughout the body via the fluid “lymph”. It also helps rid the body of waste, toxins and unwanted materials. Our lymphatic system is one of two circulatory systems in the body, but unlike the vascular system, there is no organ responsible for moving fluid around. Adding a daily 10 minute lymphatic self-massage or dry brushing session stimulates lymphatic drainage and assists normal lymph flow.

    In addition to improving our lifestyles, there is a plethora of natural supplementation that can have great effects on immunity. Be aware that when purchasing supplements, it’s important to prioritize quality – look for those that have gone through thorough testing, have detailed ingredient lists and are recommended by professionals.

    There is some controversy on the effectiveness of supplementation to specifically prevent and treat the virus. Scientists, like Linda Van Horn (chief of nutrition in the department of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) all over the world agree that “….eating a nutritious diet and getting proper sleep and exercise are the best ways to strengthen your immune system.” That being said, there are many studies stating the efficacy of certain vitamins and herbs in supporting immunity, and it’s never a bad idea to take extra precautions.

    During this outbreak of novel virus, it’s important to focus on supplements that support lung and respiratory health. Our lungs’ number one job is to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, but they have a plethora of other functions including: blood pressure regulation, pH balance, infection protection, blood reservoir, mucus clearance, speech and detoxification. When the lungs become compromised, it causes a domino effect throughout our entire body.

    Some of the most helpful immunity-boosting supplements and herbs are:

    Liposomal Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant, aids in the absorption of minerals like zinc and iron, builds collagen, and helps protect organs by bolstering fatty tissue.

    What does “Liposomal” mean? Liposomal vitamins are encapsulated in pockets of fat cells (called liposomes) rather than using capsules, tablets or powders. Currently, this technique is the most effective way to ensure proper absorption.

    Oil of Oregano: Oil of oregano is nature’s antibiotic. It reduces inflammation, provides antioxidants, treats fungal infections and kills bacteria. It is extremely effective, but be careful not to overuse it or take it for more than two weeks at a time.

    Zinc: Zinc is a mineral of many functions, but it is best known for its ability to bolster immunity. There are many studies proving zinc can prevent sickness and/or shorten the length of colds and flus.

    Echinacea: Echinacea is a flowering plant that grows in North America, and it’s been used as medicine for centuries. Clinical results have been inconclusive thus far, but scientists believe it can help prevent respiratory infection.

    Vitamin D3: Referred to as a vitamin, Vitamin D also acts as a hormone in the body. This review of 25 randomized trials finds that taking V4itamin D has a protective effect against respiratory-tract infections. It’s very hard to get adequate vitamin D from food – the best source is sunlight – so it’s a great supplement to take, especially during the winter. Look for Vitamin D3/K2 combo in gel caps or liquid form.

    NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine): NAC is an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce phlegm and cough, loosen mucus and decrease the deterioration of lung function. It helps replenish glutathione levels in the lungs and decrease bronchial inflammation.

    Omega 3 for the Immune SystemOmega-3: Almost all of us are deficient in Omega-3s. This essential fatty acid is chronic for reducing inflammation. Try to consume foods like salmon, tuna, mackerel walnuts, pumpkin seeds, in addition to adding a supplemental dose of Omega-3.

    Elecampane Root: This root has been long-used to treat lung diseases including asthma, whooping cough, and bronchitis. Elecampane contains the effective phytochemical “inulin” which coats and soothes the lining of the bronchial tubes and helps clear the lungs of congestion. It’s a powerful root to take as both a preventative and a treatment-aid.

    Curcumin: Most commonly found in turmeric, curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to reduce airway inflammation. Traditionally used in Asian medicine, it’s safe at high-doses and can be taken on it’s own or deliciously added to foods like rice, coffee, eggs and curries.

    Briefly mentioned above, I’d like to reiterate the importance of eating an immune-boosting diet. Here is an easy guideline you can follow to make the most out of your meals!

    Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods: Avoid all processed & packaged foods, and always check the ingredient list. Recommended items to keep on hand are: eggs, grass-fed beef, pork belly, bone-broth, yams, squash, zucchini, high-fat plain yoghurt, almond butter, 90% chocolate, avocados, cheddar cheese, nitrate-free sausage, frozen berries, spinach, canned salmon, olive oil and coconut milk.

    Moderate alcohol: Excessive alcohol usage can increase inflammation and disrupt immune response.

    Avoid sugar: Eating or drinking too much sugar slows down the immune system by putting your white blood cells in a coma-like state.

    Cook with garlic and ginger: Garlic is an immunity-boosting superstar (and it keeps the vampires away!) Rich in organosulfur compounds, it is used for its antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. In fact, garlic was the main preventative of Gangrene during both world wars. Consuming raw garlic is best. And most widely known as an antiemetic (anti-nausea), ginger is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

    Eat vitamin C rich foods: Citrus, bell pepper, broccoli, kale, strawberries and parsley are all examples of vitamin C rich foods. Taking a supplement is advantageous, but it’s always better to eat your nutrients when you can.

    Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate (at least 85%) may help protect the body’s cells from free radicals due to the antioxidant theobromine.

    Eat flavonoids: This 2016 study notes that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defence system. Consume them by eating blueberries, grapes (including red wine), tea, onions, kale, broccoli and tomatoes.

    A healthy immune system is necessary for survival – and it starts by leading a healthy lifestyle. By making some of these small changes in habits and diet, you can make a big difference in the strength of your body’s defences.

    There is a lot here, but start simple: Eat a whole food diet, take vitamin C, sleep well, drink more water and less alcohol, and go for a 30 minute walk once a day. Then you can start stacking more of these items into your routine to maximize potential immunity benefits.

    Incorporate as many of these immunity-boosting hacks as you can to help keep you, and your family, strong and healthy during this time.



    Original blog may be found directly on Shawn's site here!  

    Stay connected with Shawn Wells:

    Want to be featured by ICON Meals? Submit your stories to info@iconmeals.com or send us a DM on IG or Facebook!

    What Human Pattern Is Holding You Back? By Ann Marie Lawrence

    What Human Pattern Is Holding You Back? By Ann Marie Lawrence

    People have so many patterns they follow which hold them back from succeeding! I am not here to call you out on your “bad” patterns, but I am here to help you identify them so we can acknowledge and move forward. 

    Which of these patterns is holding you back?

    1. Putting others first and yourself last. When you do this, you lack the ability to give to others around your full potential! If your cup is empty, you can’t fill anyone else’s.

    2. Controlling others. Focusing everything on other people and trying to perfect them before you have even started working on yourself. Note: Don’t be a hypocrite.

    3. Assuming the worst. The reoccurrence of negative thoughts brings consistent anxiety in your life leaving you unable to grow. 

    4. Playing small. You’re not living up to your true potential!

    5. Perfectionism. The socially acceptable form of procrastination that we regard as high standards. Note: TAKE ACTION! Making imperfect progress is better than doing nothing at all with the obsession of "perfection" holding you back.

    6. Doubting your higher wisdom, heart, or your intuition. Our intuition knows best, although our primal mind thinks it's unsafe. When you aren’t taking risks, you kill your soul! Take uncertain action everyday! Do something that scares you everyday. 

    7. Addiction. Anything that is negatively taking time away from your purpose. Addiction and obsession are two very different things. Know the difference! This is distracting you from your true potential.

    8. Procrastination: not taking the actions you know you need to because you’re SCARED. Scared of either failure OR success.

    9. Toxicity. Holding on to anything that doesn’t serve you!

    10. Need for approval or acceptance from your peers and family; most likely fear of isolation.

    Identify your old “bad" patterns and begin to make a shift! YOU are responsible for your results in life.

    Stay connected with Ann Marie Lawrence on IG at @annmarielawrence

    Want to be featured as an "Everyday ICON?" Submit your stories to info@iconmeals.com or send us a DM on IG or Facebook!


    100 Health and Fitness Tips

    100 Health and Fitness Tips

    1. Eat a healthy breakfast. Eating breakfast starts your day off on the right foot and gives you fuel for the day that will help you make better food decisions throughout the day. 

    2. Get moving. Walk where you can, whenever you can. Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email. Take a lap around the block. You don’t have to take long or intense walks, but try to add a few more steps to your day. 

    3. Find a workout buddy. It may not be for everyone, but for a lot of people, having a buddy to meet for workouts helps with accountability and enjoyability. If your friends’ workout schedules don’t work with yours, check out small group training and group exercise options.  

    4. Make it easier to get a full night’s sleep. Blocking out unwanted noise, keeping your room cooler and making sure your bedroom is dark enough are all ways to help perfect your sleeping environment.

    5. Play with your pet. Your furry friend does a great job of reducing stress in your life, and reducing stress in your life makes it easier to keep your fitness goals. Also, putting effort into playtime with your pet may be a great way to get in some activity for the day!

    6. Spend time with positive people. When getting started with a new habit or lifestyle change, it’s important to surround yourself with people who support you and can give you encouragement. Make plans with your support system this week to absorb some positivity. 

    7. Write down and review your progress. Seeing what you have accomplished will keep you motivated, allow you to see your progress and keep you focused on your goals.

    8. Make food changes slowly. Don’t try to change everything at once! Instead of making drastic changes all at once, make a few small adjustments every week or month to help you get where you want to be. Try a new ICON Meals Signature meal or modify the proportions you eat with our customs menu, and let your body acclimate between changes.

    9. Eight (8-ounce) cups of water a day. The amount of water each person needs can vary, but eight cups a day is a good rule of thumb (possibly more depending on your activity level).

    10. Start your day off with positive thoughts. What are you looking forward to? What fun or exciting things may happen today? We’re not telling you to forget any negative or worrisome things you are dealing with in your life, just remind yourself of the things that can and do give you a sense of calm or put a smile on your face. 

    11. Exchange the elevator for the stairs. Stairs are great at getting those steps in and it's great exercise. Adding more flights of stairs into your routine can increase your conditioning as well!

    12. Meal prep & cook ahead. Resorting to fast food or vending machine snacks is often the result of not having a better option easily available. Making a plan for the week can help you schedule in time to prepare your food while juggling all of your weekly responsibilities. Try to set aside a few hours to make a few meals all at once, and you can start your week off with all your meals ready to go by ordering from ICON Meals!

    13. Fit in a short workout before your shower. Give yourself a few extra minutes before you shower to fit in some bodyweight exercises. Or, do them before you make your bed in the morning or after doing your dinner dishes. Pick a regular moment during your daily routine and commit to a few exercises. Squats, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups and planks are all easy to fit in – no matter the room of your house!

    14. Go to bed at the same time every night. Or at least as much as possible. Everyone’s schedule changes, but training your body to begin the sleep process at a similar time each evening can help you fall asleep more quickly and prevent those nights of restless tossing and turning.

    15. Try short but intense workouts. Don’t have 45 minutes to spend at the gym every evening? Squeeze in a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout This type of workout alternates short periods of maximum effort with less intense recovery periods. Think jump rope workouts, sprinting intervals on the treadmill, circuit training and more.

    16. Go shopping on a full stomach. Avoid that moment in the grocery store when you watch your favorite unhealthy food make its way into your cart. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to buy more food than you need and to let those unhealthy foods you crave make their way back to your home. 

    17. Stop doing anything in your best except for sleep and sex. Make your night’s sleep better by conditioning your body. Scale back your use of devices and TV before you’re in bed.  

    18. Dine out less frequently. Save money and calories. By ordering your meals from ICON Meals, you can monitor what actually goes into your food and the portion size. If you do go out to eat – think about substituting our your sides for steamed vegetables!

    19. Make sure you are using proper form. You’ve probably heard this from our trainers before, but this is a super important tip. The lack of proper forms makes you more likely to get injured, less likely to get stronger, and guarantees that you will look silly on the fitness floor. Before starting a new exercise, double check the proper form. 

    20. Get organized and set priorities and deadlines. Stress makes sticking to your fitness and diet plan even harder, and a lack of organization can add to your stress. So, outline some projects (home, monetary, work, etc.) that can help you organize pieces of your daily life and help you reduce stress.

    21. Stop smoking. We’re sure you’ve heard it before, but we have to remind you. Quitting smoking can not only help you increase your fitness level but also your day-to-day health as well. We know this is a challenge, so it’s important to find resources that can support you in this process. Check out these tips from the American Lung Association.

    22. Do your grocery shopping with a list in hand. Making a list before getting to the grocery store can help you say no to impulse buys or giving into those snacks that look super tasty. Plan our your meals, make a list of the ingredients needed and stick to your list. 

    23. Exercise during TV commercials. When a commercial starts, make the most of that downtime. You don’t need to plan anything too intense – set a squat or a pushup goal, walk through your entire house or hold a plank as long as possible. Have a Netflix-only household? Set a timer on your phone to remind you to get up every ten minutes to fit in a short exercise. 

    24. Take Naps! Sleep deprivation can affect all aspects of your life: your diet, your workouts, your stress, etc. Don’t feel guilty about squeezing in a short nap to help your body recharge. A 30-minute nap or even an extended rest period of laying down (without a nap) have been found to improve alertness and performance. 

    25. Avoid people and things that stress you out. Identify stressors in your life and try to keep a distance. It’s not always possible to do, but removing anything causing you stress is an improvement. If the stress can’t be removed, can it be improved? Brainstorm ways to reduce these stress points in your day-to-day life. You can always ask for help too! Your friends are good resources to ask about how to approach these issues.

    26. Laugh and smile! Celebrate those moments that make you happy. Taking time to express your positive emotions can impact your health and happiness. Laughter helps to cope with stress and can boost your mood (event forced laughter can give you a temporary boost).

    27. Balance your carbohydrates, fats, protein, etc. in each meal. There are a lot of different diets out there, but the easiest thing you can do is just monitor how much of each thing you are putting in your body. Eating real, whole foods makes it easier to balance these items. Food tracker apps also help you see the composition of different foods as plan your meals.

    28. Warm up before and cool down after your workouts. It’s not a waste of time, it’s the best a way to reduce your risk of injury and improve your performance. Let’s start with the warm-up. Your warm-up is designed to prepare you for the workout ahead. Therefore, the way you warm up will vary depending on what you plan to do in your workout. A warm-up for a jog would involve walking. A warm-up before lifting weights would involve performing some lighter weight sets. Cool down by performing your workout at a lower intensity or walking until your heart rate lowers. And, don’t forget stretching!

    29. Don’t add salt to your food. If you’re already eating whole, fresh foods, this isn’t such a big issue, however, most packaged foods already contain high levels of sodium, so adding more only increases your intake. Most Americans consume more than double the recommended level of sodium a day (2,300 mg), which can raise blood pressure and lead to heart disease and stroke. 

    30. Make dark chocolate your ‘indulgence food.’ In case you haven’t heard, dark chocolate is better for you than milk or white chocolate. One of the biggest benefits of dark chocolate is that it can lead to a decrease in blood pressure (with a healthy diet). Aim for dark chocolate with a cacao percentage of at least 70% to reap these health benefits, and, as with all indulgences, moderation is key. 

    31. Take a walk. Walking is a calming activity that helps you stay healthy without requiring any equipment. Regular 30-minute walks can help control hypertension and slow the progress of osteoporosis. Take regular walks throughout the week to stay on track!

    32. Brush your teeth and floss. Your dentist will be happy about this one, but so will your heart! Periodontitis, or inflammation of the gums, is considered a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. People who rarely brush their teeth have a significantly higher chance of having a cardiovascular event. There’s a reason your dentist tells you to brush twice a day!

    33. Follow your passion and do the things you love. People who live their lives with purpose and believe their lives have meaning or purpose report higher life satisfaction and psychological well-being. Find the things you are passionate about and pursue them, it’s worth the effort.

    34. Hit the gym as a couple. One way you can spend more time together as a couple is by becoming workout partners. Studies show that couples are more likely to stay with their exercise routine if they work out together. Couples also work out harder than they would solo. One study found that 95 percent of couples who work out together maintained weight loss compares to the 66 percent of singles who did.

    35. Eat more spicy foods. Hot peppers contain capsaicin, and the hotter the pepper the more capsaicin it contains (of course, be safe while eating hot peppers). Capsaicin has a number of health benefits, such reducing inflammation, pain relief, congestion relief, improved intestinal health, cardioprotection and increased fat burning.

    36. Shop the perimeter. Healthier foods like fruits, vegetables and meats aren’t generally found in the aisles of the grocery store. Try to fill your cart with items found around the perimeter of the store and avoid the aisles as much as possible.

    37. Put on your gym clothes. It sounds silly, but just committing to putting on your workout clothes can be enough to convince yourself to head to the gym. You don’t HAVE to workout once you have your gym clothes on, but you’re far more likely to. 

    38. Watch less TV. It’s tough to admit, but TV watching is a sedentary activity. Can you challenge yourself to replace some of your TV watching with a more active hobby? 

    39. Meditate. Try to meditate for at least five minutes a day. Close your eyes and bring your attention to one thing (like your breath) for a period of time. When your mind starts to wander (and it will!) just let that go and return to your breath. 

    40. Skip the cream and sugar in your tea or coffee. And artificial sweeteners, too. Drinking your beverages straight is healthier for you and allows you to maximize their benefits.

    41. Take a hike. No shortage of benefits here: the varied terrain makes this workout a little more intense than just walking, you get to absorb vitamin D from the sun, and hiking is generally a longer workout than a short walk around the neighborhood.

    42. Journal. Write about your negative thoughts instead of holding them in. Writing down negative experiences, thoughts and problems helps you process, problem-solve and cope. The simple act of writing things down can make a huge difference.

    43. Make veggies your bffTry to add a serving of vegetables to every meal. Vegetables are among the most nutrient-dense of all foods, and they fill you up faster. This food group is a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, so add a variety to your diet!

    44. Play. Get involved in sports or games that keep you active and that you enjoy. 

    45. Foam roll. Whether you choose a foam roller, tennis balls, muscle sticks or other fitness tools, try to fit in some self-myofascial release into your gym time. This practice helps improve soft tissue health and speeds recovery.

    46. Practice gratitude. Positivity is often reflective. Taking time to say “please,” “thank you,” “I appreciate it” and anything else positive throughout your day will often reflect directly back to you and make your days less stressful.

    47. Have a morning routine. Implementing a morning routine helps you start your day off on the right foot, every day. You don’t get behind first thing before you even get out the door. Use this time to exercise or to accomplish whatever goals you have set for the day.

    48. Improve your posture. Whether for health reasons or just to look more confident, you should be paying attention to your posture. Poor posture can lead to neck and back pain and a list of other health complications. 

    49. Eat more omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have long been praised for their many possible health benefits, including reducing inflammation, lowering your risk of diseases such as heart disease and arthritis, and their positive impact on brain health. Add more to your diet through fatty fish such as salmon (wild-caught, not farmed), flax seeds and walnuts. Walnuts make a great healthy snack, and try to each fatty fish at least twice per week.

    50. Eat real foods. Purchase and eat minimally-processed foods – plants, fruits, meats, nuts, etc. This helps eliminate things like refined grains, sweeteners and the ingredients you can’t pronounce.

    51. Create a backup plan. Common obstacles can derail a fitness plan: no time, no motivation, too little knowledge, strapped for funds, etc. All of these roadblocks have a solution, and we’re here to help you find it!

    – Too busy/no time: Try working out in the morning. Getting up a little earlier and fitting in your workout helps avoid any obstacles that can spring up throughout your day. You can make your workout shorter and still get in your sessions. You can try shorter, more intense workout sessions such as intervals or Tabata training.
    – No motivation/lack of knowledge: Try working out with a trainer!
    – Limited funds: Check out group classes!

    52. Monitor your caffeine intake. Everyone responds to different levels of caffeine, but we think it’s a good rule to avoid consuming caffeine after dinner. Moderating your caffeine intake can help you get better sleep and feel more alert during the day.

    53. Reduce the clutter in your life. All the “stuff” you have in your life can add stress, and you may not even realize it until it’s gone. Try cleaning out that junk drawer, going through those piles of mail or cleaning our your closet. Those small improvements could remove small sources of stress and give you a little more peace.

    54. Hang out with friends. Having a supportive social network is important. The strength of your relationships with family, friends and your community supports your well-being and physical health.

    55. Start to make your workouts harder. Your workouts are there to improve your fitness, however, if you keep doing the same things over and over, you’ll hit a point where you max out the benefits of that workout. Progressive overload, gradually increasing the amount of stress you put on your body during a workout, helps you to keep challenging your body. Aim to increase the stress of your workout each time to continually progress your fitness. 

    56. Season your food with healthy spices. Some spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and tumeric, are incredibly nutrient dense and can have positive effects on your health. For example, turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory, ginger contains many antioxidants and cinnamon has been shown to help control blood sugar.

    57. Plan healthy meals in advance. Creating a plan for your week helps you limit your impulse buys at the grocery store and helps you stick to your plan (and less likely to eat out at restaurants because you don’t know what to make for dinner).

    58. Do your housework. As simple as it sounds, chores can add up to a significant calorie burn. Tasks like sweeping, yard work or cleaning out a closet are all great ways to get a little extra exercise.

    59. Try to wake up at the same time every day. Getting your body into a rhythm of getting up and out of bed at the same time every day (weekdays AND weekends) is one of the best things you can do to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Even if you’re staying up to different hours each night, committing to your wake time helps regulate your sleep schedule and helps your body get up and going in the morning.

    60. Don’t eat heavy meals before bed. Making your body try to digest a heavy meal makes it harder to relax and harder to sleep. If you’re hungry, you don’t need to skip your snack, just avoid greasy, spicy and sugary foods.

    61. Push through discomfort. That doesn’t mean push through pain. The number one rule of working out is to listen to your body, but don’t avoid a workout just because it makes you uncomfortable.

    62. Replace your nighttime dessert with fruit or cottage cheese. Fruit is sweet and usually lower in fat and calories than desserts. Cottage cheese contains slow-to-digest proteins that can help your muscles recover from your workouts.

    63. Appreciate the beauty around you. Take time to actually focus your attention on the things around you that you enjoy, find beautiful, that calm you, etc. To fully appreciate something, take time to notice the details and reflect on what it is about that specific thing that you enjoy.

    64. Replace unhealthy snacks. Instead, try nuts, fruits and veggies. If you live your life on the go (who doesn’t?), try creating pre-packaged baggies of snacks over the weekend that you can just grab on the way out the door. Think cucumber slices, carrots, almonds, berries, etc.  

    65. Add recovery workouts. By now, you know that rest is important to your workout routine, but we also recommend adding active recovery workouts into your schedule. During these workouts, try to keep your heart rate lower by taking a walk, lightly riding a bike or hopping on the elliptical.  

    66. Work toward your personal goals. Set personal goals that are in alignment with your values and purpose, and then pursue them! Having a specific goal in mind (better health, personal growth, etc.) can help you frame all the effort you are putting in every day. Thinking about your goals daily can demonstrate why that extra weekly workout is worth it!

    67. Avoid bright light before bed.  Light affects how your body prepares for sleep, so keeping your screens on before bed can interrupt your sleep cycle. Light can prevent your body from secreting melatonin – the hormone that makes you tired and helps keep you asleep. Try putting your devices down and turning off your TV two hours before you fall asleep – we know it can be difficult!

    68. Cut out the soda. No really. Soda contains a lot of calories from high fructose corn syrup that can easily be removed from your daily intake – just by eliminating soda consumption. Also, avoid diet soda due to the artificial sweeteners they contain, which may actually stimulate your appetite.

    69. Limit isolation exercises. For the most part, most of us aren’t bodybuilders, so we don’t have the need to focus attention on very specific muscles. Exercises, like bicep curls, help sculpt specific parts of your body instead of working on total body fitness. While useful for rehab, they aren’t necessarily the best exercises to have in your routine by themselves.

    70. Prepare for the next day before bed. Set aside a few minutes before getting into bed to write your to-do list for the next day, set your clothes aside, pack your gym bag, etc. Eliminate anything you can that may keep your mind going to help yourself have a better night sleep.

    71. Eat until you’re 80% full. It takes about 20 minutes after you’re finished eating to actually ‘feel’ full (your brain needs to catch up). Try to finish your meal before you feel completely full and let your body catch up. 

    72. Take a 30-minute walk. This simple habit is a great way to improve your health. Walking can help you avoid workout burnout, help control hypertension, slow the progress of osteoporosis, produce a calming effect and much more!

    73. Exercise your mind. Lifelong learning is necessary for a balanced lifestyle. Playing games, reading, puzzles, etc. are all great ways to exercise your mind and de-stress. 

    74. Forgive others (and yourself). Forgiveness has been found to improve the body’s response to stress (lower blood pressure, heart rate and quicker recovery from stressors). Of course, every situation is different, and you know your life best, but if you can, work on forgiveness – your body may thank you.

    75. Learn about workout nutrition. Different types of workouts and fitness goals take different types of fuel. For example, for weight loss, you may want to make sure that you increase your intake of quality protein to avoid muscle loss. Take the time to research and learn about what type of nutrition is right for your goals. 

    76. Use more mustard. Mayo contains trans fats, and BBQ sauce and ketchup contain a lot of sugar. In contrast, mustard is low calorie and is a good source of several beneficial minerals and nutrients. 

    77. Practice good hygiene. It may seem like we’re stating the obvious, but being mindful of your cleanliness is good for you. Daily showers, proper food handling, hand washing and regularly cleaning help stop the spreading of germs and infections (and just makes everything smell better). 

    78. Stop buying “healthy” foods. Don’t believe the packaging, because a lot of time those healthy foods are hiding a lot of unhealthy things. Spend your time educating yourself about what actually makes food “healthy” and focusing on the good stuff.

    79. Focus on compound exercises. Compound exercises engage more than one muscle group, and they are functional (they train your nervous system along with your individual muscles). Make sure to add a variety of these exercises to your routine: 

    – legs (lunges, step-ups, squats, deadlifts)
    – upper body push (bench press, overhead pressing, push-ups)
    – upper body pull (dumbbell rows, chin-ups)

    80. Take a break when you’re stressed. When you’re overwhelmed, take a step back. A simple breathing exercise can help you feel calmer. For each breath, count to four as you inhale, hold it for a four count and exhale for another four. 

    81. Add in probiotics. Probiotics can improve your digestion and help fight off ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut, leading to improved immune function. There is also evidence that probiotics may play a role in relieving anxiety. You can find probiotics in foods like yogurt (unpasteurized) and fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso soup, pickles, kimchi and tempeh. You can also add probiotics via supplements.

    82. Assume that other people have good intentions – Finding the positive qualities in others can help improve your social life and, studies prove that being trusting can increase your well-being. Finding the positive qualities in others may help you see the best qualities in yourself as well!

    83. Eat your sandwiches open-faced. Lose some of the bread (and the calories and carbs) and focus on what’s inside the sandwich – especially the protein and veggies!

    84. Use progressive muscle relaxation. While laying in bed, try to relax your whole body. Go through each muscle group one at a time. Make each one as tense as possible and then relax it before moving on to the next one. Start from the top of your head and move down to your toes. When you’ve finished, listen to your body to see what muscles are still tense. For these areas, repeat the process up to four times.

    85. Start doing Yoga. Yoga is a form of exercise that blends body movement with breath. There are many benefits of incorporating a Yoga practice as part of your exercise routine, including improved flexibility and balance, decreased stress, and increased strength, focus and self-awareness.

    86. Skip the salad dressing. Many salad dressings pile on the calories, sugar and refined vegetable oils negating the benefit of the salad you so carefully made. Opt for extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon and lime juice instead.

    87. Follow the two-minute rule. If there is something on your to-do list that you can complete in less than two minutes, do it immediately. Getting things crossed off your life (and off your mind) can help reduce stress from your life.

    88. Add more organic foods. Not everything you eat needs to be organic (we get it, organic can be expensive), but focusing on more organic produce can eliminate any possible pesticides or other chemicals that non-organic produce is sprayed with.

    89. Spend more time in the sun for more vitamin D. Try getting 10 minutes of daily sun exposure when it’s nice out. Vitamin D, which the sun can help your body produce, can help prevent weakness and many other diseases. Important note: don’t forget your sunscreen for prolonged exposure to the sun.

    90. Use healthier cooking methods instead of frying. Fried foods absorb a lot of fat in the cooking process (depending on the oil, these can be unhealthy fats), and vegetables lose part of their nutritional value when fried. Instead, think about roasting, baking, steaming, etc.

    91. Consider your sleep cycles. Instead of focusing on how long you sleep, think about how many 90-minute sleep cycles you are able to complete. The best time to wake up is at the end of a cycle, so start with the time you need to get up and count back in 90-minute increments to find the best time to close your eyes at night. Everyone’s cycles and sleep needs a different, but a good rule of thumb is trying to go to bed 6, 7.5 or 9 hours before you need to wake up.

    92. Get creative with your exercise. Your body adapts to the workouts you put it through, so it’s important to change things up. Try new group exercise classes or enlist the help of a trainer.

    93. Marinate before grilling. Marinades may provide a barrier between the direct flame/heat of the grill and your meat entree preventing the buildup of possibly harmful chemicals created by cooking meat at high temperatures. Soaking meat in a marinade of alcohol (from wine or beer) and herbs for at least four hours can decrease the formation of these chemicals.

    94. Spend more time in nature. Spring is the perfect chance to head outdoors. Spending time outside is a great way to de-stress, reduce levels of hostility and depression and to increase feelings of liveliness.

    95. Just say “no.” FOMO, guilt, duty – all of these are reasons that we agree to plans, favors and other things that we really don’t want to do. Remind yourself that it’s okay to decline requests and invitations when you need more time for yourself. Respect yourself and your own time.

    96. Eat responsibly-raised fish, meat and eggs. Wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat and free-range eggs can make a difference in the quality of food you eat. When animals are raised in their natural habitats on their natural diets, they tend to be healthier and better for us.

    97. Reframe your thoughts. Sometimes it’s easy to see the negative parts of events rather than the positive. “I only lost two pounds this week instead of four!” But, remember, you still lost two pounds! When appropriate, learn to recognize your negative thoughts and focus on ways to frame them in a positive light instead.

    98. Use healthier oils. Look for oils that have a high smoke point (such as coconut and avocado oil) so that they don’t break down while you are cooking. Olive oil is a great choice for adding to foods, sauces and dressings, but avoid using it for high-temperature cooking. And, in general, try to avoid highly processed vegetable oils in your diet.

    99. Substitute whole wheat for “white” carbs. Look for products that list “wheat flour” on their ingredients list – not “whole wheat flour” or “100% whole wheat flour.” Or – substitute quinoa in your sides, wraps and more!

    100. Make the most of everyday! We like knowing you're healthy and happy and we want to do whatever we can to help you stay that way. Make sure to plan your weekly meals out with ICON Meals! Reach out to our staff if you have any questions! They’re here to help – and they love doing it!