How I Reset, Stay Healthy, and… Grow on Vacation… 11 Easy Tips!

Ever hear someone say… “I need a vacation after my last vacation?

There are many factors that would lead someone to feel exhausted after just having spent 5,7, or 10 days away somewhere that’s both beautiful and relaxing. Factors like having family where you are visiting would obligate you to shuffle from one visit to another, traveling with kids (enough said;), or a travel companion with a to-do list that would take you a month to complete… etc.

So, here are a few tips that I’ve tested, boiled down, and tested some more over the years to help you reset, stay healthy, and actually grow on your next vacation.

These simple tips will help you fulfill your body’s Movement, Fuel, and Thought requirements no matter what limitations you are presented with!

Movement

  • Rise Early and go for a Jog… Like killing 4 birds with 1 stone this simple strategy:
    • Gets you up early to begin exploring and orienting you to your surroundings
    • Allows you to fulfill your daily exercise requirement so it’s not hanging over your head for the rest of the day
    • Puts you in a positive, uplifting, accomplished mood before the day really begins
    • And… as a result keeps the rest of your decisions in check (ie. if your feeling great you probably won’t indulge in that daily ice cream, that 3rd or 4th cocktail, or that deep fried FILL IN THE BLANK that you can so easily talk yourself into “because your on vacation”;)

  • Walk Everyday…
    • Going for a long walk does not include strolling from one charming little boutique to the next;) Although taking it easy and relaxing/moving slow is important too, grabbing your travel companion or opting for a solo walk is a perfect way to reconnect with them or yourself, feel the calming peace of your environment, and both mentally and physically reset.
  • Take a Daily Nap
    • No. Don’t create an excuse… just lay down on your bed and close your eyes, stop thinking for a moment and enjoy this peace you’ve worked so hard for! I recommend planning your day’s activities into 2 parts: Early and Late day. You’ll be able to enjoy yourself more if you’re charged throughout the day instead of puttering in on fumes at day’s end. After all… that’s what you do back home!
  • Plan to Workout 3/4 of the Days you are Away… but don’t get made at yourself if you don’t. Remember, your job is to rest and not feel guilty about it.

Fuel

  • Eat Protein / Good Fat with Every Meal
    • Remember, when you’re hungry, your body is calling out for high quality fuel to consume: choosing high quality protein or good fats will allow you to burn them off slowly (like long-lasting diesel fuel) and will give your body the macro and micro nutrients it requires to feel great and perform at its best!
    • Choosing simple sugars or simple carbs will deliver often little nutrition, cause you to gain weight, and keep you searching for more. Ever said to yourself, “I can’t believe I gained so much weight on vacation…
  • Daily Omega 3’s… (Fish Oil)
    • Even on vacation, inflammation is important to think about. Whether it’s that gelato, fried calamari, or whatever you indulged in, keeping on your Omega 3 (Fish Oil) regiment will help your body continue to perform at it’s best! Remember, a requirement is a requirement, whether you’re on vacation or not!
  • Turmeric: ***Golden Tip Here!
    • So, here’s the thing, my Polish skin will always burn a bit before my Italian tan comes out. I found that no matter how much I protect myself, this is the reality. So, I always take turmeric daily on vacation to help protect me from inflammation and the pain, discomfort, and damage of a sunburn!
  • When Dining…
    • Get outside your comfort zone. If traveling overseas, ask the server what they are known for, try local cuisine, enjoy your coffee whatever way the locals make it, try local wine/beer (in moderation;)… and remember your job is to relax and grow… this just so happens to be the tastiest way of doing it!

Thought

  • Plan Each Day
    • Be like a kid and plan activities that quench your curiosity, allow you to explore the world, push your boundaries, and create memories for a lifetime!
  • Be Intentionally Grateful
    • Before going to bed each day, write down 3 things you were grateful for that day in your journal or phone app (I like the 5 Minute Journal app)
    • Hint…You will review this on the flight home and keep it visible over the next few weeks after you return home from your trip. Why? Once you return home, it’s easy to fall back into an old negative or scarcity mindset. Leaving your daily gratitude list visible will be a constant reminder to audit what’s most important in your life.
  • Plan your Next Move(s) in Life!
    • Think about it. It’s difficult to construct the life you want when you’re under stress and just “getting through the week” back home. So, use this time outside your typical day-to-day life to design the life you want for yourself and strategize about how you will become the person you’d like to be.

Ultimately, design your days to feed this growth process and Move, Eat, Think, and Vacation with purpose!

Healthy Travels!

Dr. Rob


Simple Tips to Stay Healthy on Vacation!

I’m sitting here at my favorite espresso bar in the Athens Airport eager to get this blog written and out to you! 😉 I wanted to share some travel tips I’ve been stockpiling for some time hoping maybe one or two will really hit home with you and make your life / travel easier and healthier in the future!

So here’s the quandary…

In order to live a lifestyle that keeps you moving toward health and away from sickness your actions must not only be strategically calculated to build the health you want but they must also be consistent. You know where I’m headed with this because travel is ANYTHING but calculated and consistent. With astronomically long security and customs lines, last minute gate changes, flight connections from one gate to the next leading you through miles of underground tunnels, dozens of elevators and escalators, and then… more lines, no doubt traveling could be stressful but in the end, the experience you have hopefully FAR outweighs the stress or inconvenience of any of this.

So, how do you create calculated action and consistency when you venture off to see the world and your control seems limited? This is what I do… not right or wrong just what works for me! Hopefully you’ll find some value in this too!

What I prepare:

Eat By Design

Snacks: The trick is to plan ahead. Since your travel could take many, many hours, you are looking for foods/snacks that are healthy but stable. Some of my favorites are below.

  • Long trip snacks: Paleo Scones, Grass-fed beef jerky, my favorite snack bars, Paleopuffs (my newest obsession;), Ketocafe (if you start your day with Bulletproof coffee, this is a great instant alternative).
  • Short trip snacks: fresh fruit, fresh coconut meat, cut and tupperware-stored veggies, and all the above.
  • WARNING!!! DO NOT go to the airport without having recently eaten a proper healthy meal or without one in hand to eat at the gate or on the plane.

Move By Design

Clothes… Think space saving with the biggest impact.

Minimal soled sneakers: thin, flexible, perfect for exploring a city or going for a hike (if you’re into minimal sneakers) Nearly all major shoe makers have a line.

Athleisure-type clothes that double from hard-core workout appropriate to travel and exploring appropriate.

Exercise tube/band or jumprope: versatile and space saving

Apps: Love these two!

  • Kineticoach: Designs workouts for you and allows you to enter in your limitations: Goals, Intensity, Equipment on hand, Time limitations
  • Brainwave (35 Binaural Programs): Influences brain patterns to help initiate desired moods: ie: Focused and alert, Positive Mood Boost, Deep Relaxation (Some of my best work/relaxation comes when listening to these:)

My Air-Plane 7 (Stretches) (note: I tried taking pictures for you demonstrating these but they ended up looking a little, well… awkward (ie. me squatting outside the restroom door 😉 So alternatively… descriptions are below.

#1 Quad Stretches: While standing, pull your leg from behind and stretch your quad muscle (front of upper leg muscles) then, lean back and stretch your hip flexors.

#2 Deep Squat w/ Side-to-Side Sway: Squat as far down to the ground as possible with legs a little more than shoulder width apart. From here, sway side to side feeling stretch in groin and hip rotators (outside of hip).

#3 Neck Extensions: (Dr. Rob’s obsession;) Standing/Sitting, you name it, it’s all fair game. Shoulders back and neck in full extension.

#4 Shoulder Rolls: Sit forward in your seat and roll your shoulders forward and backward through full range of motion.

#5 Standing Marches: Find the back of the plane and make friends as you march away in your own one-person parade. Bonus points if you get someone to join you;)

#6 Lift and Tucks: In your seat, lift yourself off the seat by pressing against the arm rests. In this position, tuck your pelvis slightly in and out, rotate, and laterally flex your lower back.

#7 Heel/Toe Lifts: Circulation, Circulation, Circulation. Help your heart by pumping that blood back up!

General On-board Tips:

  • Roll Blanket/sweatshirt/hoodie behind your lower back vertically to help prop you forward. Like car seats, airplane seats are usually not designed for proper spinal support.

Think By Design

Travel Journal: Brainstorm before your trip: What do you want to get out of this experience? If you were to design your absolute perfect experience, what would it look like. Make a Checklist and start checking away! I use The Things app as my life-list checker-offer! Also the Wunderlist app is great and it’s free!

Hope this will help you in the not-so distant future!

Remember the most important part of traveling (vacation travel) is to reset physically and mentally!

Happy, Healthy Travels!

– Dr. Rob


Simple Solutions for Last Minute Meals

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With running a practice, raising a newborn and toddler, maintaining an exercise schedule, and all the other demands of daily life, sometimes making sure a healthy dinner is on the table at night can fall through the cracks for Lea and me.

Does this sound familiar to you and your life?

We get it!

You can always try to prepare, but let’s face it, sometimes life will out-pace you and you will be left with the question of what to feed yourself or your family after a long day. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite quick at-home meals and healthy local restaurants to help you when you find yourself in a bind instead of resorting to unhealthy take-out, mixing bowls full of cereal, or microwave popcorn.

But first…

It’s important to stress that your body has 4 essential requirements it needs to function at its best: Fuel requirements, Movement requirements, Thought requirements, and most importantly, Communication requirements of your body and brain. When one of these requirements is lacking or missing, your entire health suffers, and you live in a survival mode rather than a growth mode. But, when all are raised at the same time for a period of time, the natural result is greater health and overall function!

It’s simple! You’re like a plant which requires sunlight, nutrients, water, and non-rocky soil to perform at its potential. Without it, a tree may never grow past a sapling. With it, a mighty oak!

So, to be certain you’re feeding your body the raw materials it needs to thrive, we recommend these simple meals when you find yourself in a bind.

1. Veggie chicken stir-fry:

Combine:

– Sliced chicken breast (Sautéed in coconut oil)

– Throw in whatever veggies are on hand (green beans, broccoli, tomatoes,

zucchini, carrots, celery be creative!)

– Dr. Rob’s Stir-fry sauce:

– 4 Tbsp Coconut Amino’s (perfect substitute for soy sauce)

– 1 Tbsp raw honey

– 2 Tbsp almond butter

– 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Blend Together then add:

– 1 tsp minced ginger

– 1 tsp minced garlic

– Hand full of cashews

2. Frittata w/ sweet potato Slices:

Simple and Delicious!

Prepare Sweet Potato Slices:

1. Slice sweet potatoes

2. Sauté over coconut oil

3. Add a pinch of sea salt

4. Cinnamon to taste

Frittata

1. Sauté a mix of veggies (literally whatever you have on hand in coconut or avocado oil)

2. Toss whisked eggs over and enjoy!

3. Clean the fridge salad:

Pile on the organic veggies, avocado, hardboiled eggs, bacon, oranges or strawberries

– If organic meats, poultry, or fish are available – toss in

– Top it off with balsamic and olive oil dressing or whisk red wine vinegar, olive oil, and yellow mustard!

– Be creative with this one – if it’s a veggie, fruit, protein, nut, seed, etc., it’s fair game!

When you just don’t feel like cooking, don’t worry, here are a few of our favorite local healthy restaurants:

1. Sweet Green (Chestnut Hill)

Literally our favorite healthy food fast eatery. Can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

2. Life Alive (Cambridge)

I recommend literally the entire salad and wrap menu! Bon Appetite!

3. Eat with Jack O’Neill (West Roxbury)

Check out the Grass-Fed Burger, Organic Lamb Burger, or Superfood Salad

My Quick Tips to avoid devouring that chocolate bar before dinner is ready…

  • Quick Smoothie:
    • Blend almond/coconut milk, fresh or frozen organic fruit, and a handful of kale or spinach
  • Enjoy a spoonful of almond butter and honey
  • Grab a handful of nuts
  • Essentially, look for protein instead of sugary carbs!

Active Kids are Brainy Kids – Here’s Why!

active-kids-arebrainy-kids-

Spring is almost here (according to the calendar at least!), and with warmer weather comes more opportunity for kids to get outside. This week, we are talking about why it is so important that kids have the chance to play. With the constant hustle and bustle of school activities, sports teams, tutors, classes, and homework, carving out time to allow children to just play is vital to their development.

First we should define what kind of play we mean. Children need to be allowed free, unregulated play with limited adult involvement. Think back to when you were a child and you were free to play outside, explore your neighborhood, climb trees, ride bikes, and only had to be home when the dinner bell rang. No coaches. No umpires. No rulebooks. Little parental intervention. That is the kind of play that is vital for neurological and physical development in children. I’ll explain why.

We are born with billions of neurons. These neurons are connected to a huge, intricate pattern of nerves throughout our bodies. Every thought, movement, feeling, and sensation translates into a message that is transmitted back to our brains, and processed through those neurons. As nerves are used, they grow. Just like muscle. And just like muscle, if they are not used, they do not grow.

So how does free play build the brain? Think of each of these skills as a weight to build their brain muscle! The more they “lift” these weights, the stronger their brain will get!

Problem solving: The front of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) is largely responsible for problem solving; research has shown that free play creates significant developments in the prefrontal cortex. How? When playing with limited adult intervention, children are able to work through problems on their own, often coming up with creative solutions. They are able to figure out what works and what doesn’t through experimentation, and trial and error.

Emotional Development: The prefrontal cortex also controls emotional regulation. They learn empathy. They learn to recognize emotions in others, and associate them with their own experiences. They learn perseverance and patience, accomplishment and confidence. They learn to regulate emotion by noticing how others respond to their actions.

Communication: When playing, kids have to talk to each other. Often, they will even talk to themselves if they are playing alone! They have to explain the rules, sort out problems, and negotiate. We often see young children get frustrated when they are not able to articulate their feelings, this simply comes with practice. When allowed to practice communication within a safe, non-judgmental space with only their peers, they learn what effective communication is and what is not.

-Language: When children play, they are able to actively experience language. They experience prepositions over, under, through, between. They see and touch geometry. They act out verbs jump, run, fall, spin, swing. They feel adjectives: hard, soft, wet, dry. Playing allows children to experience language on a physical level, developing stronger correlations between concepts and reality.

-Behavior: How do you feel when a business meeting runs long? You start to get frustrated. Fidgety. You check your phone; tap your pencil; wiggle your foot; adjust your seat. Anything to move. Fidgeting is your brains way of asking for movement. How much better do you feel after you have had the opportunity to stretch your legs and take a quick walk? Your brain thrives on movement. Vigorous physical movement helps expel excess energy. Research has shown that after being allowed to play outside, children are often better able to focus and less fidgety.

Motor Skills: Motor skills are the ability to perform complex neuromuscular actions; basically, the ability of muscles and nerves to “talk” to each other to make the body move appropriately. As babies grow and attempt different tasks, they are teaching their muscles and nerves how to talk to each other, and thus establish a connection to complete the action. Climbing trees, picking up sticks, building forts, throwing a ball. These actions all require children to move their joints and limbs through space. They strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The feedback the brain receives from these movements from the muscles, bones, and joints all help to build motor skills.

Balance: Spinning, falling, rolling are all actions that impact the vestibular (balance) system. In order to develop balance, children must experience balance and imbalance. Why is this important? Beyond the obvious implications for later in life, the body must understand and recognize imbalance to keep you balanced! How do you stay standing or sitting upright? Your brain recognizes the position of your body in space, and is actively working to keep you that way. Without the proper training (remember, your brain is like a muscle!), we see deficiencies in balance which often manifest in fidgeting like behaviors.

These are only a small sampling of the benefits kids get from free, outdoor play. Send your kids outside! Let them get dirty (it builds immunity)! Get out in the sun (Vitamin D)! Let them run, jump, skip, fall, spin, play. Their brains will thank you!

Play On!

Katie


Resources

https://achieveperformance.training/articles/163-active-children-smarter-children

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/06/336361277/scientists-say-childs-play-helps-build-a-better-brain

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/07/23/let-em-out-the-many-benefits-of-outdoor-play-in-kindergarten/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/07/08/why-so-many-kids-cant-sit-still-in-school-today/?utm_term=.aefb9930cf3c

http://www.timbernook.com/2017/blog-the-case-for-recess.html

http://education.umkc.edu/download/berkley/The-Importance-of-Outdoor-Play-and-Its-Impact-on-Brain-Develpoment-in-Children.pdf

http://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/power-of-play

https://aeon.co/essays/children-today-are-suffering-a-severe-deficit-of-play