Articles by Stacey Wirtjes

  \  Tru Mindset, Wellness  March 11, 2024

Cortisol and how stress impacts it

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’ve had run-ins with stress. While it doesn’t take much to trigger it, stress doesn’t just happen alone. It requires the help of cortisol. But what does cortisol have to do with how stress functions? A lot! and we’ll explain it all. In this blog, we’re simplifying this complex hormone and its relationship with stress.

Cortisol + your body.

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released by the adrenal glands on top of each kidney. It sends messages throughout your body, telling it what to do and when to do it1. This function is critical to stress. It initiates a “fight-or-flight response,” slowing down physiological processes you don’t need to survive and accelerating the ones you do during the moment3. In stressful or threatening situations, cortisol readies your body for what’s to come by regulating your body’s stress response and sending this response to your organs. It also plays many roles in the body, such as regulating sleep cycles, increasing blood sugar, and managing blood pressure11.

Your body’s response to the stress hormone isn’t meant to be a long-term solution. Cortisol released by the body over time can impair your health.

Stress and its impact on cortisol.

When stressed, cortisol is released to help regulate your body’s response to tension. Stress can impact our nervous, immune, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems and can be short or long-term. The higher the cortisol levels, the more likely your body will experience stress. If cortisol is sent throughout your body in large doses, it can have an impact on your overall health2. If cortisol levels fall too low, it can also have an impact. It’s best to think of the Goldilocks’ porridge saga. Too much and too little won’t do; your cortisol levels must be balanced.

Cortisol overload.

Stress and its indicators vary from person to person. However, researchers have found that there are common signs that individuals with higher-than-normal cortisol levels share1:

  • Weight gain – When cortisol rises, it elevates insulin levels triggering a decline in blood sugar. When this happens, you’re more likely to crave unhealthy food choices3.
  • Meaty shoulders – Excess fat accumulation between your shoulder blades occurs when high cortisol levels are present4.
  • Pink or purple stretch marks – Higher cortisol levels over a long period can degrade the collagen in your skin5. Such effects can appear on the abdomen, thighs, arms, and breast areas5.
  • Blood sugar – The stress hormone increases blood sugar by releasing glucose reserves1.
  • Blood pressure – Cortisol is necessary to balance blood pressure levels. When cortisol increases, blood pressure does as well6.
  • Hair growth in all the wrong places – Excess hair growth on the skin and other areas is caused by high levels of cortisol overtime12.

Natural ways to reduce stress and lower cortisol levels.

When it comes to reducing tension, it’s best to keep it simple, starting with your everyday routines. The lower your cortisol, the more likely you are to minimize stress. Here are some tips to naturally reduce stress and lower cortisol levels.

  • Get some quality z’s – How well you sleep is directly related to stress and increased cortisol levels. Cortisol can throw off your circadian rhythm (your 24-hour clock) telling your body when to sleep and when to wake7. Levels typically decrease at night while increasing during the morning. The opposite happens when you experience restless slumber8.
  • Work it out – Consistent exercise has been proven to decrease tension, thanks partly to endorphins. No strenuous activity is required. Endorphins are produced by your brain’s pituitary gland and secreted through your nervous system9. Their superpower? Endorphins can block the effects of cortisol, ultimately reducing stress levels. So even a leisurely walk activates these happy, healthy hormones.
  • Yoga – Looking for a way to reach Zen while getting fit? Then this exercise is for you. Studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress, enhancing your mood and well-being10.
  • Do something that brings you joy – Read a book, watch a movie, or gather with friends and family. Stepping away from a stressful situation can help boost your mood and decrease cortisol1.

Foods that support healthy cortisol levels.

Believe it or not, some foods can help regulate cortisol, although it doesn’t apply to frequent fast-food or sugary indulgences. A diet high in processed foods can increase cortisol11. Dieticians recommend these whole foods to help get your stress and cortisol levels in check:

  • Try a Mediterranean diet – Fish, poultry, fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats are great sustenance when stressed out. The Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of foods that are packed with nutrients your body needs, helping to reduce cortisol11.
  • Vitamin B and Omega 3’s – Whole grains and some protein can also help manage cortisol. Beef, chicken, eggs, and organ meats such as liver are great sources of vitamin B. Salmon, tuna, olive oil, and avocados are also winners for foods high in omega-311.
  • Magnesium – Need to relax? De-stress with magnesium-rich foods like avocados, bananas, broccoli, dark chocolate, and spinach. Their calming abilities can help reduce stress and metabolize cortisol11.
  • Protein-rich foods – Beans, poultry, fish, and other meats can help manage your blood sugar, reducing cortisol levels. Other protein-rich foods to try are almonds, chicken breasts, quinoa, tuna, salmon, shrimp, and eggs11.
  • Gut-healthy foods – 70 – 80% of our immune system can be found in the gut11.When your immune cells communicate with the microbiome, the bacteria and fungi communicate with your brain. Remember when we mentioned earlier in the blog that one of cortisol’s functions is to help our body respond to stress? If you are feeling stressed, then there is a good chance that cortisol is present. Cortisol is prompted by stress. If your gut is healthy, that message is relayed to your brain.

How to manage stress for optimal health and well-being.

To effectively manage your tension, you must first recognize your stressors and identify the actions that can counteract them. Here are a few ways that may help combat your stress:

  • Stay active – Take a walk, dance around your house, play basketball, or do anything to elevate your activity level and endorphins.
  • Let out a good chuckle – Laughing feels great, and much like exercise, laughing releases endorphins and gives you something more to smile about.
  • Explore green spaces – Studies have shown a connection between exposure to green spaces and a reduction in cortisol.
  • Meditate – Give yourself a chance to breathe and reflect in the present, dissolving stress, yet embracing what’s to come.
  • Journaling – When stress comes about, write it out. Sometimes writing about how you feel can be easier than verbalizing it.

Managing stress is the key to neutralizing cortisol. Acknowledging your stressors can help develop a deeper understanding of how to work through them. It isn’t always easy, and figuring out what works best for you may take time, but stress and cortisol are manageable! In addition to meditating, exploring lush green spaces, and journaling, options are vast when it comes to stress management. If you’re unsure where to start, click here for more supplementary information regarding stress. By identifying the source of your tension, you now have what it takes to successfully manage stress and cortisol whenever necessary.

1 Cortisol. Cleveland Clinic
2 Stress effects on body. American Psychological Association
3 Can stress make you gain weight? Cleveland Clinic
4 Hump behind the shoulders. Mount Sinai
5 Cushing syndrome. Mayo Clinic
6 Cardiovascular consequences of cortisol excess. National Library of Medicine.
7 Circadian rhythms. National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
8 Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolic conditions. National Library of Medicine.
9 Endorphins. Cleveland Clinic.
10 Benefits of yoga. Mayo Clinic.
11 Eat these foods to reduce stress. Cleveland Clinic.
12 Hirsutism, Cleveland Clinic.

  \  Motivational, Tru Mindset  February 26, 2024

Mind Over Matter: How to Harness the Power of Positive Thinking

We’ve been taught from an early age that the words we say to others matter. Words have the power to encourage, inspire and influence. They also have the power to discourage, unnerve and isolate. But what about the words that we tell ourselves? In this blog, we’re focusing on the power of positive thinking. Positive thoughts are like superpowers, once you tap into them, the possibilities are endless. They can transform insecurities into confidence, giving you the strength to fight through tough situations.

What’s positive thinking and why is it important?

Maintaining a positive attitude doesn’t mean that “life’s curveballs” won’t affect you1, it’s a conscious choice to remain optimistic (not pessimistic) despite your circumstance. Positive thinking refers to the productive way in which you approach adversity.

What’s the difference between optimism and pessimism? For starters, they’re located on two different sides of the personality spectrum. An optimist tends to focus more on positive situations, while a pessimist may place greater emphasis on the negative1. Regardless of what characteristic you may identify with, when it comes to mental health there’s no right or wrong. Positive thinking is a mindset, and not a systematic view.

The destructive nature of negative self-talk.

Negative self-talk is likely provoked by unproven thoughts, preconceived ideas or assumptions that arise from a given situation1. To embrace the positive and filter out the negative, you must first be able to recognize the various types of negative behavior1:

  • Highlight the worst and forget the best – Instead of looking at the positive in a situation, you continue to look toward the negative.
  • Constantly blame yourself – When things don’t happen the way that you want them to, you point the finger at yourself.
  • Thinking the worst – Negative thoughts feed your mind before the situation itself has even occurred.
  • No matter how hard you try, you’re never doing enough – You remember every task you didn’t complete and blame yourself for not following through.
  • Making a mountain out of a molehill – It could be a small problem that requires a minor adjustment, but you turn it into a seismic shift.
  • No one is perfect, but you’re trying hard to be – Nothing is impossible, but the standards that you’ve set for yourself might have set you up for failure.
  • It’s all good or all bad – Everything is good or bad, there is no between.

Positive thinking with a twist.

One of many great things about the human mind is that it’s constantly evolving. What does that mean for you? Change is possible, should you choose to embrace it. Positive thinking isn’t always linear, so your approach shouldn’t be either. Here are a few pointers that can help foster the positivity in your life:

a. Reframe your thinking – Challenging thoughts in a positive or productive way is called positive reframing. Finding something to be grateful about in a challenging situation is a way of successfully accomplishing this2. It’s basically reprogramming your brain to think in ways that you may have never considered.

b. Write in a gratitude journal – Gratitude is the state of being grateful3. Studies have shown that there is a connection between thankfulness and overall health. Set aside time during your day to think of all the things that went right. What are you grateful for? It can be as simple as having food to eat or a place to sleep4. Need pointers on starting a gratitude journal? Here are a few tips:

  • Write when it suits you – Find a time to decompress. Research has revealed that writing in your gratitude journal before bedtime can help you get a better night’s rest5.
  • Go with the flow – Don’t make things complicated. Start with a goal of writing a couple things in your gratitude journal for just a few minutes a day. As time goes on, you’ll build upon what you have written, and witness the progress that you’ve made5.
  • Make your day… a positive one – Embrace the positivity in your life, daily. It can help reduce stress levels even when things aren’t exactly rosy, allowing you to reclaim your focus on things that matter most5.
  • Details. Details. Details – This is the time to be as detailed as you want. Describe your moment of appreciation in its entirety. By doing so, you’re able to relive the positive experience which can be cathartic to your mind and body5.

c. The power of visualization.
Visualization (or imagery) is the process of cognitively creating an image to either develop or enhance a skill6. It’s one of the most popular psychological techniques, that’s even thought to improve athletic performance, although researchers aren’t sure about the psychological factors that play into it. You may or may not be an athlete, but you can still apply this exercise to your everyday life. Consider it practice for great things to come. Preparation for the positive can give you the self-esteem to excel when it really happens, and it will.

Conquering your mountain of negative thoughts.

Overcoming negative thoughts can be a huge obstacle, but there is a way to turn it around with self-affirmation. Self-affirmation is the belief in one’s worth and existence7. In laments terms, it’s understanding who you are and what you are made of. There’s an inner warrior in you. However, it may take time to reveal itself. Here are a few ways to overcome negative thoughts through affirmation:

Embrace change – Identify anything large or small in your life that may cause you to think negatively. Reflect on how to approach it positively1.

Fact check yourself – Negative thoughts can often be based on things that aren’t true. When you feel yourself going down that route, find something positive. It could be as simple as a lesson learned in a particular situation1.

Laugh it off – When things get rough, sometimes a smile or a laugh can help. Laughter can produce endorphins. Endorphins can decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) therefore helping to reduce your stress level1.

Live healthily – A healthy diet, frequent exercise, stress management and a great night’s sleep can provide the mental clarity necessary to help you sift through negative talk and finally speak the truth about yourself. Stressing less and maintaining a better night’s sleep are essential to healthy living1. CLICK HERE to learn how you can effectively manage your stress and achieve a blissful night’s sleep.

Happy is what happy does.

Exposing yourself to positive people, won’t always guarantee happiness, but it can provide encouragement. There will be days that don’t go quite as planned, and it’s during those times you’ll need positive reinforcements the most, helping you to see past the moment. The same principle applies to music, movies and books. The positivity you put in, is what you will get out.

Time to put that positivity into practice.

Before making a negative statement, ask yourself, “Would I say this to someone else”? Give yourself a little grace, disregarding the negatives. Think about the good things you’ve accomplished and what you are thankful for1. Not to worry if you don’t get it right away. Positive thinking requires practice and lots of it. Avoid negative self-talk by replacing it with a positive statement1, blocking out the negativity, and allowing you to become more accepting of who you are and where you’re going.

Negative self-talk is counterproductive. It allows assumptions and falsehoods to consume your life. For every negative, tell yourself something positive. Forget what you think you’re incapable of and focus on what you are. Positive thinking is a state of mind, it may require some practice, but it’s an achievable goal. If you can’t verbally say what you’re grateful for, write it down in a gratitude journal. Surround yourself with like-minded positive people and participate in activities that bring you joy. Be your biggest advocate. You are what you think, and there’s no doubt that you were meant to be someone great.

1 Positive thinking: stop negative self-talk to reduce stress, Mayo Clinic.
2 Positive reframing and examining the evidence, Harvard University Stress and Development lab.
3 Gratitude definition, Merriam Webster.
4 Can expressing gratitude improve your mental, physical health?, Mayo Health System.
5 4 tips for keeping a gratitude journal, Cleveland Clinic.
6 APA Dictionary of Psychology, American Psychological Association.
7 Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation, National Library of Medicine.

  \  Motivational, Tru Mindset  February 26, 2024

The Power of Community During Health Transformation

The word transformation gets a bad rap. When we think of change, we often think of the stressors it can trigger (as if we need more stress). It can throw off our schedules, leave us emotionally vulnerable and force us into life-altering situations that are very uncomfortable. But not all change is bad. Change must happen for all living things to grow. Transformation is essential, especially when it comes to your health.

There’s no right or wrong reason to pursue a health transformation. Health transformation is simply an investment in you1. It can mean getting a better night’s rest to reduce stress and help improve cognitive abilities or eating right, so your body has more optimal energy to use throughout the day. It’s transformative self-care. Giving your body what it needs so you can be your best.

But health transformation journeys aren’t always as straightforward as we would like them to be. It can drain us of energy, discourage our paths and intimidate our thoughts. At this point, we may need a community support system or group to lean on, and that’s perfectly fine. Therapy groups are amazing tools for seeking help. Community support groups aren’t that. In support groups, everyone has a common goal or interest.

Get some good support.

A good support system is like having a personal cheerleading squad. It feels great to hear encouragement from the sidelines, especially when we are going through life changes. They become your accountability partners, helping you stay on track while working through your personal goals2. Regardless of your level of motivation, it’s your support community that keeps you going, and it can be anyone who understands your aspirations. A group of friends you’ve known since high school, co-workers, a Peloton Mom’s group, or someone you’ve just met. Whether you realize it or not, these incredible individuals will play a crucial part in your transformation journey. While yes, you are more than capable of encouraging yourself, sometimes that added energy from people who ‘get us’ is the push we need to run across the finish line.

Community is important because humans fare better in life when they receive support. That’s not us saying it. It’s all research. Studies have found that people with a high quality or quantity of social networks have better overall health and longevity3.The type of support each person requires is based solely on preference and can occur regardless of age3.

Fantastic social groups…and how to find one.

Health transformation can be an exciting but isolating experience. Not everyone will understand your journey. Isolation can cause you to feel alone, unmotivated, or even stuck. One of the great things about our social media-driven society is that technology has made it easier to connect with the world. Having a support group that understands your experience is essential. A non-profit, local clinic, or organization can run this group4. Although we should always be aware of our relationships, subscribing to a community that best fits you is done intentionally, giving you more control over the type of support you need and want.

Your support group preference will depend heavily on your circumstances. If you are trying to lose weight, it probably wouldn’t be in your best interest to join a group of people that want to gain weight. Not that one group is better, but it doesn’t align with your interests. Maybe it’s not the group, and it’s the location you disagree with. You may be an introvert that likes meeting in a more familiar setting. Maybe work and personal obligations have you on a strict schedule, and you aren’t able to meet in person at a given time. It should be all about what is best for you.

Finding the right community for you can be trial and error but stay positive! You will find your tribe. Begin with people you know and trust to point you in the right direction, like a physician or a reputable non-profit website4.These resources may be located online, in-person, or both4. Make sure that you’re surrounded by individuals who understand your goals and can support you through your journey.

Supportive communities have BIG benefits.

The largest benefit of having a supportive community is that you don’t feel alone. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people. Their support will become a positive reinforcement. Community reduces isolation and can motivate you to continue your journey and create ownership of what you seek to accomplish.

How to create your own support community.

Creating a supportive online or in-person community may take work, but if you can coordinate a fantasy football league, or organize your sister’s baby shower, you have what it takes to start one. Here are a few tips on how to create a support group:

1. Know what your group is about and who would be interested.

Before starting your community, you have to know what the meeting will be about and if anyone will be interested in the topic.

2. Spell out the specifics of your group.

After you’ve figured out who is interested in your group, the next task is determining what kind of group it will be. Will it be a monthly meet-up? Weekly? Will it be a support group, a discussion group, or a professionally led group? We shall see.

3. Here’s a big one. Where will it be?

Microsoft Teams, Google Duo, Skype, and Zoom. Technology has now made connecting more convenient, especially for people with hectic schedules and long distances between them. The technology that you use must be the most accessible for the group. Despite its popularity, convenience isn’t always desirable for everyone. Some support group members may find that meeting in person offers them fewer distractions than they experience at home. What about a hybrid meeting arrangement? Half technology, half in person. It may be beneficial for some; however, it also has the potential to split your group5. Getting everyone on the same meeting schedule can be difficult. Some people can meet in person, while others can’t. It all depends on what is best for your group.

4. Network!

Post your support group’s info on social media and share it with others. Keeping your support group to yourself is a no-go. Social media is the fastest way to spread the word. Not into social media? Email can get the job done. You can use your current contacts to bring awareness to your community. What if you want to add a more personable approach to your marketing strategy? Passing out flyers or different memorable materials will work. Remember, you may not directly know the people that have interest, but your friends might.

5. Okay, what are we talking about?

What will be discussed in the group? Since each meeting has a designated time frame, every moment is precious. You should decide how you will spend your time. You’re not micromanaging necessarily; it’s being efficient not only with your time but the time of others. It also helps the group to flow.

Staying connected and motivated in your community

Make it a point to keep in touch with members of your group. A friendly check-in or a short chat via phone, email, or social media will do. It’s just to say hi. Be upfront about your needs, wants, and concerns while allowing others to make suggestions and address issues. It’s nice to feel heard6. If you want to go the extra mile, be the chairman or chairwoman of activities outside of the support team setting. It’s great to get people out of their element and know them in a different context.

Sharing is caring, especially during your health transformation journey.

Never underestimate the power of your words. To you, it may seem like a gained experience, but to someone else, it’s gained knowledge. Sharing your story can inspire others to tell their truth, encouraging an endless cycle of helpful information. Communicating your views can be therapeutic for you and others. Speaking your mind allows you to express your thoughts and concerns, setting the tone for a warm, collaborative environment and a wildly successful support group.

1 Health transformation: How to know when you are ready. South California Hospital Culver City
2 What is an accountability partner. Masterclass
3 Social and Emotion Support and its Implications for health. National Library of Medicine
4 Support groups: Make connections, get help. Mayo Clinic
5 Tips for starting a support or discussion group. University of buffalo School of Social work
6 Social Support: Getting and Staying Connected. Mental Health America

  \  Motivational, Tru Mindset  February 26, 2024

The Secret to Success: The Power of Consistency

Consistency is the key to success. This is a timeless truth. Any successful person you admire will tell you the same. Consistency is what sets successful people apart. Consistency is the ability to maintain the same level of performance or effort, day in, day out. It is not about being perfect, but it’s about showing up every day and doing what needs to be done, no matter how difficult or mundane the task may be. Let’s explore the power of consistency and how it can change your life in significant ways.

Consistency: The Key to Building Habits that Stick

Consistency is the magic ingredient that turns everyday actions into lifelong habits. It acts as the bridge that connects our dreams to reality, transforming simple actions into powerful habits that become second nature. When you commit to doing something on a regular basis, whether it’s exercising, reading, or practicing a skill, you are setting yourself up for success. By steadily pushing through resistance and building a habit, you create an automatic response that requires less and less willpower to execute. This is why building good habits is such a critical component of achieving your goals.

The Science Behind Consistency and Habits

Our brains are designed to conserve energy and operate efficiently. When we consistently engage in a particular behavior or activity, we are essentially training our minds and bodies to adapt and become accustomed to that routine, eventually turning it into an automatic response that requires minimal conscious effort.

This allows us to develop new habits and eliminate old ones by consistently reinforcing desired behaviors and minimizing undesired ones. Over time, our habitual actions become deeply ingrained, making it difficult for us to break free from them – which is why consistency is so vital in shaping our habits.

Train Your Brain

One common misconception about habit formation is that significant changes require grand gestures or drastic measures. However, research has shown that small, consistent steps can be more effective in creating lasting change. By breaking down our goals into manageable tasks and focusing on consistency, we can achieve gradual progress that accumulates over time.

For instance, instead of trying to read an entire book in one sitting, commit to reading just 10 pages every day. This approach not only makes your goal more achievable but also helps you build the habit of reading consistently. As you continue this practice, your brain will begin to associate reading with pleasure and relaxation, making it easier to maintain this habit in the long run.

Successful People are Consistent

Success is not a matter of chance, but rather a product of consistent hard work and dedication. This is a trait that is often found in successful individuals, who understand the importance of consistency in every aspect of their lives. They don’t rely on occasional bursts of inspiration or luck to achieve their goals, but rather stay true to their routine and work ethic every single day. Whether it’s in their personal or professional life, they take a disciplined approach to their goals, understanding that small consistent steps towards their objectives lead to significant accomplishments over time. Being consistent in your actions and mindset is a fundamental key to achieving success in any area of life, and this is a lesson that successful people have learned and applied.

Consistency in Personal Growth

Personal growth and self-improvement are essential elements of success. By consistently setting and working towards personal goals, individuals can develop the skills and qualities necessary to excel in their chosen fields. Successful people understand that personal growth is a lifelong journey, and they maintain a consistent routine of self-reflection, learning, and skill development to ensure they continue to progress and evolve.

Consistency in Professional Life

In the professional realm, consistency is equally vital. Successful individuals establish a strong work ethic, demonstrating reliability, punctuality, and dedication to their tasks. They understand that their reputation and credibility are built upon their consistent performance and ability to deliver results. By staying committed to their work, they build trust with colleagues, clients, and employers, ultimately paving the way for career advancement and new opportunities.

Building Resilience Through Consistency

Life is full of challenges and setbacks, but successful people recognize that consistency can help them build resilience. By maintaining a steady approach to their goals, they develop the mental fortitude to persevere through difficult times, knowing that their consistent efforts will eventually pay off. This resilience enables them to bounce back from failures and setbacks, turning these experiences into valuable lessons for future growth.

The Power of a Consistency Plan

A consistency plan is a roadmap that outlines the steps you need to take regularly to achieve your goals. It helps you stay focused and accountable to your objectives. When you have a consistent plan, you remove the guesswork, and you know exactly what you need to do every day to achieve your objectives. Not only do consistency plans help you stay focused and accountable, but they also give you the confidence and motivation you need to keep going.

In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the power of a consistency plan and how it can help you achieve your goals.

  1. Clarity of Purpose – One of the main benefits of a consistency plan is the clarity it provides. By outlining your goals and the steps needed to achieve them, you establish a clear sense of purpose, which can be incredibly motivating. This clarity allows you to focus your efforts on what truly matters, rather than getting distracted by less important tasks or losing sight of your objectives.
  2. Accountability – When you have a plan in place, you hold yourself accountable for your actions and progress. This accountability can be a powerful motivator, as it encourages you to stay committed to your plan and avoid procrastination. By regularly reviewing your plan and tracking your progress, you can ensure that you remain on track and make any necessary adjustments to keep moving towards your goals.
  3. Measuring Progress – A key aspect of a consistency plan is the ability to measure and track your progress. By setting milestones and regularly assessing your performance, you can identify areas where improvements can be made, and celebrate your achievements along the way. This not only helps you maintain momentum but also provides valuable insights into what works best for you, allowing you to refine your approach and optimize your efforts.
  4. Resilience and Adaptability – A well-crafted consistency plan can help build resilience and adaptability. As you work towards your goals, you may encounter obstacles or setbacks that require you to adjust your approach. With a plan in place, you can more easily identify these issues and make the necessary changes to overcome them, ensuring that you continue to make progress even when faced with challenges.

The Long-term Impact of Consistency

The impact of consistency is profound and long-lasting. When you approach things with steadfast consistency, you are effectively laying the groundwork for success. Whether it’s establishing a strong daily routine, maintaining a healthy work ethic, or sticking to a long-term goal, you’ll set yourself up for a better future. Remember, the key to success is not doing something occasionally; it’s about showing up every day and doing what needs to be done. As you experience the power of consistency, you’ll become more confident in your abilities and more likely to set and achieve even greater goals. So, if you’re looking to make a meaningful impact on your life, it’s time to start embracing consistency, and the positive changes that come with it.

  \  Motivational, Nutrition, Tru Mindset  February 12, 2024

The Secret to a Morning Routine that Sets You Up for Success

We’ve all heard the saying, “The way you start your day sets the tone for the rest of it.” And it’s true. A successful day starts with a successful morning routine. Developing a morning routine that sets you up for success may seem overwhelming, but it’s easier than you think. In this blog, we’ll explore the secret to a morning routine that sets you up for success and how to implement it into your daily life.

  1. Wake Up Early – The key to a successful morning routine is waking up early. Early wake-up time provides extra time to focus on your personal development and goals. It’s easier to start the day when you’re not rushing to get things done. Aim to wake up 30 minutes to an hour earlier to give yourself enough time to focus on yourself before starting your day.
  2. Exercise – Exercise is a great way to start your day. It not only boosts your energy and mood, but it also sets the tone for a healthy day. You don’t have to go to the gym to get a good workout in. Simple body-weight exercises like pushups, squats, and lunges can be done at home and provide great results.
  3. Plan Your Day – Planning your day is an important step in setting yourself up for success. Take a moment to review your daily goals, tasks, and priorities to ensure you’re staying on track and making progress toward your larger objectives. This simple act helps you focus on what needs to be done and prepares you for a productive day.
  4. Practice Mindfulness – Practicing mindfulness is a great way to start your day. Mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and stress, increase focus, and improve overall well-being. Take time each morning to practice mindfulness techniques like meditation or deep breathing. These techniques create a sense of calm and prepare you to tackle your day with a clear mind.
  5. Eat a Nutritious Breakfast – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s essential to eat a nutritious breakfast. A balanced breakfast provides energy and nutrients essential for a productive day. Start your day with foods high in protein and fiber like eggs, oatmeal, or yogurt.
  6. Stay Hydrated – One of the simplest things you can do for your health is to drink plenty of water. Start your day by drinking a large glass of water, preferably before your morning coffee. This helps rehydrate your body after a night’s sleep and can boost your metabolism.
  7. Limit Screen Time – Starting your day by checking your phone or other electronic devices can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Limiting screen time in the morning can have significant benefits for your mental and emotional well-being. By starting your day without the distractions of technology, you can cultivate a more focused, peaceful, and productive mindset to carry throughout the rest of your day.
  8. Create a Positive Environment – Surround yourself with things that inspire and motivate you, like motivational quotes, uplifting music, or pleasant scents. A positive environment can contribute to a productive and happy day.
  9. Personal Hygiene – Maintaining good personal hygiene in the morning plays a crucial role in starting your day feeling refreshed, confident, and ready to tackle whatever challenges come your way. A consistent hygiene routine can also contribute to your overall health and well-being.
  10. Take Time for Personal Growth – Set aside at least 15-30 minutes each morning to focus on activities that contribute to your personal development. This could include reading, journaling, learning a new skill, or working on a passion project.

In conclusion, a successful morning routine is essential for setting yourself up for a productive day. Incorporating these steps into your daily routine may take time, but the results are worth it. Start small and gradually incorporate these steps into your daily routine, and watch as your morning routine sets you up for success. Remember, the way you start your day sets the tone for the rest of it.

  \  Nutrition, Tru Mindset  February 12, 2024

Cracking the code to a healthier lifestyle

It’s that time of year when we begin making our New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’ve already made a list of them and even broken one or two. While we can agree that no one’s resolution list is the same, there are, two goals that are shared by many: attaining a balanced diet and achieving a healthier weight. Let’s face it. The weight loss struggle is real, and you’ve tried everything. However, the truth is, what works for someone else, won’t necessarily work for you. Everyone is different, and that’s okay. While big lifestyle changes can be difficult and discouraging, you’re not alone. It’s a struggle that many of us face. Your ideal weight is more than just a number. It’s about you feeling comfortable in your skin.

Did you know that it is possible to reach your weight loss goal without reading books focused on the science behind it or spending two hours in the gym at least seven days a week, on top of everything you’ve got going on in your life? It is! With the proper diet, managing stress levels, and a great night’s rest, you can begin to make amazing strides towards a healthier you.

How are diet, sleep, and stress related to weight? The correlation between the four can be complicated, but not to worry; we’ll simplify it for you by breaking down the impacts of each, starting with diet.

You are what you eat. So, eat healthy.

Like anything else, healthy eating is a learned habit and a long-term commitment.1 However, there are ways to nurture a healthy diet that will help boost your overall health.

A hectic schedule can sometimes throw a wrench in keeping a balanced diet. Like most busy people, your “go-to” is likely a stop through the drive-thru on the way home or a quick meal or snack that is most-likely not the healthiest option for you. Maybe there’s a healthy recipe you’ve wanted to make this week, apples you’ve wanted to slice and store, or your eye has been drifting toward some of the pre-prepared meals at your local grocer. Having pre-portioned snacks and meals on hand can reduce the temptation to over-eat and grab not-so-nutritious foods. Although food prep is ideal, during times of stress, appetites tend to be less disciplined and sporadic. It’s then that we eat food that is higher in calories and fat. Studies have shown that our bodies store more fat when stressed than relaxed, which makes it even harder for us to reach our weight goals.

Stress is the worst.

The most frustrating thing about stress is that there are no alarm bells before it strikes. Anything can cause stress; it’s just a matter of how intense it can feel. There’s no “one size fits all” approach to stress. Everyone handles stress differently. There are also varying levels of stress. What does all this mean for you? Knowing your response to stress and triggers can help you identify and manage your stress. By addressing stressors, you’re aiding your overall health, especially when it comes to weight loss. Thanks to the stress hormone cortisol, any stressor can prompt your body to react.

Stress even has its own hormone.

Cortisol is a hormone that your adrenal glands produce and release. It’s so commonly associated with stress that it’s referred to as the “stress hormone.” When cortisol increases, so do factors such as low energy and moodiness.2 The good news is that as stress decreases, so do cortisol levels. To understand weight gain and its connection to stress, we’ve got to delve deep into cortisol’s function. Simply put, cortisol is involved in two factors contributing to weight gain: carbohydrate intake and fat metabolism.

Let’s talk fat metabolism.

Yes. You read right— fat metabolism. Metabolism is the chemical process in which your body converts food and drinks to energy.1 While doctors do not think this is the sole reason for gaining weight,3 in terms of its relation to stress and the factors that cause weight gain, fat metabolism is a big deal. When you are stressed, you tend to make more emotional decisions, eat more of the wrong foods, are less energetic, and eventually gain weight. Additionally, if you are stressed out, more often than not, it will be difficult to get a great night’s sleep.

Cortisol affects sleep too.

Did you think we were done talking about cortisol? Not quite. Did you know that cortisol also can dictate your circadian rhythm, a.k.a, your sleep-wake cycle? It tells you when it is time to wake up and when it is time to go to sleep. Cortisol levels are lower in the evening when you are going to sleep and higher in the morning when you wake up. When the hormone is high at night, it can affect the quality of your sleep and have other short- and long-term effects.4

Feed your metabolism with quality sleep.

Your body is a fine-tuned machine. Quality sleep is important in supporting your cognitive and cardiovascular systems, especially your metabolism. If your circadian rhythm is off, it can affect your metabolic function. Enter the growth hormone, which, in addition to cortisol, is present during glucose regulation. The growth hormone also regulates carbohydrates and fat metabolism through complex interactions with your body.5

There are four stages of sleep. Non-REM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep occurs during the first three stages and accounts for the first half of sleep. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep happens during the second half of sleep in the fourth cycle (lasting about 90 minutes.6 The growth hormone is at its highest level during the second half of sleep and reaches its highest level when cortisol elevates7; however, it only occurs during REM sleep. So, the reactions from hormones being at their highest can slow your fat’s metabolism, which can eventually lead to weight gain.

Piecing the puzzle together.

Now for the final chain link. What you eat and how much you eat matters to your overall health. Healthy eating habits provide the nourishment that your body needs to function effectively. Stress and cortisol go hand in hand. Cortisol is a hormone that is released when you are stressed. High cortisol levels can lead to cravings for food that is higher in calories and fat, increasing your chance of weight gain. This stress hormone can also interrupt your body’s circadian rhythm and throw off your body’s ability to attain quality sleep. A poor night’s sleep can trigger stress, affecting your weight loss efforts, and the cycle continues. By eating healthier, managing stress, and getting a night of great sleep, you’ve got what it takes to connect the pieces of your journey to a healthier lifestyle and ultimately lose weight.


1 How to reshape healthy eating habits – The Cleveland Clinic
2 Metabolism and weight loss – Mayo Clinic
3 Metabolism and weight loss: how you burn calories – Mayo Clinic
4 Cortisol – The Cleveland Clinic
5 The intricate role of the growth hormone – The National Library of Medicine
6 Brain basics understanding sleep – National Institute of Neurological Disorders
7 Sleep and metabolism – The National Library of Medicine

  \  Fitness, Nutrition, Tru Mindset  February 12, 2024

When it comes to weight loss, listen to your gut.

Below your stomach lies a little-known secret weapon—your gut. When thinking of our guts, we’re more inclined to think of what comes out of it and not necessarily what goes into it. But our intestines are way more complex than that. Many good fungi and bacteria are inside it to absorb the nutrients necessary to help us live our healthiest lives. It can even affect our bodily functions and, ultimately, our health goals. Speaking of goals, what if we told you that the same fungi and bacteria might be the key to maintaining a healthy weight? Sound interesting? Well, it should be! Get ready because, for this piece, we’re going way more than skin deep. We’re getting intestinal.

What the gut?

We’ll start with the gut microbiome. Gastrointestinal tracts are made of a ton of single-celled microorganisms that are either good for you or bad for you. So, the normal structure microbiome (bacteria, fungi, viruses) lives inside our gut naturally. The norm for gut health is when your body can adequately digest and absorb food and nutrients and promote an effective immune system.
This function is important because when the gut microbiome is not at its optimal level, your gut may be affected.

What’s the benefit of a healthy gut? It can help your overall health. Foods containing fiber, probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods are the best to help your gut stay healthy and happy. Fiber, fermented foods, and prebiotics can be found inside fruit, vegetables, and grains that help to feed healthy gut bacteria. What doesn’t help is adding fast food, sugar, and other processed foods that can take your gastrointestinal system from gut to what.

Bacteria and weight management, is that really a thing?

Not sure where to start when it comes to weight management? Check your gut. Your gut helps with digestion and metabolism, so you want it functioning at its optimal level. Diets high in fat and sugar have been linked to weight gain and metabolic changes. A recent National Institutes of Health study has identified the ties between weight and gut microbes using mice. During this study, researchers placed a group of mice on a diet high in fat and sugar and another on a low-sugar diet. Yes, mice and humans have very different anatomies, but the findings in the study could help draw a connection between gut health and weight.

Researchers noticed that after only a week, the mice with a high fat and sugar diet had changes in their guts and fewer T helper 17 immune cells (known as Th17), which help maintain a healthy weight and metabolism3. Segmented filamentous bacteria, which are good bacteria typically found in the guts of rodents, fish, and chicken, saw a sharp drop in T helper 17 production. As a result of the study, they found that without the T helper 17 cells, fat absorption and gut irritation increased.

So, what does this mean to you? While there isn’t a definite relationship between gut health and weight, it does provide an association between both, giving some validity to the case of gut health and weight management.

The great thing about gut health, as it relates to weight, is that you don’t have to jump through hoops to see results. Here are a few simple ways to keep your gut and weight in check:

Broaden your fruits and veggies color pallet.

Don’t get us wrong. Leafy greens are amazing, but you benefit more from eating vegetables and fruits of all shades. Adding more color increases your chances of absorbing more than one type of nutrient, which is great for feeding the good bacteria in your gut4. It’s also a safe way and healthy way to lose weight5. Eating yellow bananas, green peppers, and red grapes in addition to your tasty salad is a great example.

More fiber? Yes, please.

Fiber can help keep your bowels “regular” and your gut giddy. But are you consuming enough of it? Men’s and women’s recommended daily fiber intake is 35 grams and 25 grams, respectively. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber doesn’t. For example, oatmeal liquefies when water is added, and nuts tend to do nothing at all. Each food contains a high level of fiber yet behaves very differently. Both types of fiber are essential to gut health4.

Fermented foods are fantastic.

The word ferment may sound gross; yet, if you’re a yogurt or kombucha fan, consider yourself fermented, but don’t worry; it’s a good thing. Fermented foods can produce vitamins like B12 and K (an undervalued participant in gut health), giving your gut some of the good bacteria it needs, lowering the PH levels in your intestines, and reducing the survival rate of bad-acting bacteria4.

Stressing doesn’t help.

Stress can affect your mental and physical health, and your gut is no exception. Tension triggers cortisol, a hormone released during stress. Cortisol can also restructure your gut’s good bacteria, releasing toxins and neurohormones (hormones secreted by the nervous system) and encouraging poor diet choices and eating habits, which can trigger weight gain or loss6. You can reduce stress by doing something that brings you calm, like going for a walk, reading a book, or getting more sleep. If you can’t shake off your stress monster, here are a few more options that may help.

Circadian rhythms don’t just apply to sleep.

Believe it or not, even microbiomes are on a schedule too. Eating late throws them off because they are not used to metabolizing at that time of night4. When your food is slow to metabolize, it may make your weight management journey that much harder. There is a way around it, though, to try and consume well-balanced meals consistently each day4.

Are you team pre or probiotic?

Both are winners in our book. Probiotics and prebiotics are types of fiber that can be found in food and or supplements. Prebiotics supports the growth of good bacteria in your gut4. Apples and artichokes are great examples of natural prebiotics. Probiotics are good live bacteria that balance your gut’s microbe levels and digestion4. Foods such as yogurt with live cultures, kombucha, and miso are categorized as probiotics. Different types of probiotics can help promote naturally healthy gut flora and can impact overall health4. The most important thing, however, is choosing the one that is best for you.

Foods that can hurt or help your gut.

The same good “fuel” (food) you need to maintain a healthy weight is exactly what is required for optimal gut health. Prebiotics such as fruits and vegetables of all colors that are rich in fiber, like asparagus, bananas, beans, berries, oatmeal, onion, garlic, leafy greens, and wheat, are excellent for feeding your gut healthy bacteria. Probiotics such as sourdough, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt with live cultures are great for aiding your gut microbiome. If the mention of beans and fruits isn’t fascinating enough for you, not to worry. Your gut and weight health journey is what you make of it!

For breakfast, maybe you could try an apple cinnamon baked oatmeal, chocolate chip banana pancakes or an easy one pot red beans and rice that can cleverly and deliciously satisfy your savory cravings as a way to incorporate good bacteria into your diet.7

Making healthy food choices can be more challenging than it sounds. From food inflation to busy schedules, sometimes, you have the best intentions regarding gut and weight health, but it’s an uphill battle. We get it. It happens to all of us. It’s awareness of what we’re putting into our bodies that can change the way we eat. The occasional fast-food trip or chocolate bar isn’t bad. Regular visits to your favorite burger joint, fructose or sugar binges and excessive drinking can set your weight goals back and impact intestinal health. Foods high in fructose are commonly found in processed foods that we eat and drink and can do a number on our intestines. Even healthy foods like apples, pears, and dried fruits can be naturally high in fructose8, so like everything else, moderation is the key. Surprised? Here’s something that may have way less shock value. Fizzy feel-good beverages like soft drinks, seltzer water, and caffeine (not limited to coffee or tea but also chocolate and over-the-counter pain relievers) can be a punch to your gut if consumed often8.

Keep it moving, for gut’s sake.

If you need extra motivation to get moving these days, do it for your gut. That’s right. Studies have shown that regular exercise isn’t just for getting back into shape; it can also change your gut for the better! But how? Exercise enhances the number of good gut microbes, that in turn increases microflora (bacteria and fungi growth living freely in your gut) and improves the growth of good bacteria, essential to maintaining healthy intestines. Let’s revisit the importance of microflora in this process. It not only provides the nutrients and tissue development found in the gut, but it also affects our immune system. It’s like having an organ inside another organ, making it… an organ’s organ, keeping your gut running smoothly9. The verdict? Exercise is critical to maintaining a healthy weight and gut.

Be good to your gut, and it’ll be good to you.

When thinking about health, your gut may not register high on your radar. The fact is, your gut affects more than just your digestion. It can directly affect your immune system, skin, brain, and heart, improving mood and promoting healthy sleep.

If you have ever felt your emotions in your gut, it’s not in your head (no pun intended). Your brain is responsible for it10. Thus, the connection between your brain and your intestines. Consider them confidants. If something happens in your gut, it quickly sends signals to the brain, and vice versa, especially when stressed. Cortisol (stress hormone) can affect your mood, sleep quality, and gut. So, it is not far-fetched that you’re affected by bad mood and lack of sleep.

A few tips for a top gut.

Healthy guts make for better digestion and nutrient absorption. Getting the proper nutrients from your food significantly impacts your physical and mental well-being11. Eating colorful fruits, veggies, fermented foods, prebiotics, and probiotics, managing your stress levels, and getting a great night’s rest are great starts to improving your gut health and launching you toward your weight goals. It’s a dietary win-win!

1 Microbiome – National Institutes of Health
2 Building a healthy gut microbiome – Mayo Clinic
3 How diet may disrupt gut microbes to promote weight gain – National Institutes of Health
4 How your gut microbiome impacts your health – Cleveland Clinic
5 How to use fruits and vegetables to help manage your weight – Centers for Disease Control
6 Stress, diet, and the gut microbiota: human – bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition – National Library of Medicine
7 Recipes – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
8 5 Foods to avoid – John Hopkins Medicine
9 Exercise modifies the gut microbiota with positive health effects – National Library of Medicine
10 The gut-brain connection – Harvard Health Publishing / Harvard Medical School
11 How to improve your gut health – MD Anderson Center

  \  Tru Mindset  January 22, 2024

Reset & Restart: Jump Start Your Health Journey at Any Age

Living a healthy lifestyle is essential for overall well-being, regardless of age. It’s never too late to make positive changes that can have a significant impact on your health and quality of life. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of embracing a healthy lifestyle at any age and provide practical tips on how to reset and restart your health journey. Whether you’re in your 20s or your 60s, it’s never too late to prioritize your health and well-being.

Understand the importance of having a healthy lifestyle, regardless of your age

Regardless of age, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for various reasons. The most important, maintaining optimal health. Furthermore, a healthy lifestyle promotes emotional well-being, helps reduce stress levels, and improves overall quality of life.

Set achievable goals for yourself – take each step slowly and steadily

When embarking on a health journey, it’s important to set realistic and achievable goals. Start by identifying areas where you want to make improvements, whether it’s nutrition, exercise, stress management, or sleep. Break down your goals into smaller, manageable steps that you can work towards over time. Remember, progress is a journey, and taking small steps consistently is more sustainable than attempting drastic changes all at once.

Incorporate healthier habits into your daily routines

One key aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is incorporating healthier habits into your daily routines. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Nutrition: Focus on consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Minimize processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive salt intake. Portion control is also important to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Physical activity: Engage in regular exercise that suits your age and fitness level. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week. Incorporate strength training exercises to improve muscle tone and flexibility.
  • Stress management: Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practicing mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy and relaxation.
  • Sleep hygiene: Prioritize getting enough sleep each night. Create a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation and avoid electronic devices before bed. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep to support optimal health.

Try low-impact exercises for strengthening & flexibility

As we age, it’s important to focus on exercises that promote strength and flexibility while minimizing the risk of injury. Low-impact exercises are excellent options for people of all ages.

Consider incorporating activities such as:

  • Walking: A simple yet effective form of exercise that promotes cardiovascular health and can be done at any age.
  • Swimming: A low-impact exercise that provides a full-body workout, improves cardiovascular fitness, and is gentle on the joints.
  • Yoga or Pilates: These practices help improve flexibility, balance, and strength, while also promoting relaxation and stress reduction.
  • Tai Chi: A gentle form of exercise that combines slow, flowing movements with deep breathing and meditation. Tai Chi helps improve balance, coordination, and overall well-being.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or concerns.

Utilizing Support & Community – Building Networks for Accountability & Progress

Embarking on a health journey can be challenging, but having a support system can make a significant difference. Consider the following ways to utilize support and build a network for accountability and progress:

  • Find a workout buddy: Exercising with a partner or joining a group fitness class can provide motivation, accountability, and make workouts more enjoyable.
  • Join online communities: Engage in online health and wellness communities where you can connect with like-minded individuals who share similar goals and experiences. These communities can provide valuable support, advice, and inspiration.
  • Seek professional guidance: Consult with healthcare professionals, such as nutritionists, personal trainers, or therapists, who can provide personalized guidance and support on your health journey.
  • Track and celebrate your progress: Keep track of your achievements and milestones along the way. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, as they signify your commitment and dedication to your health.

Regardless of your age, embracing a healthy lifestyle is essential for overall well-being. By understanding the importance of a healthy lifestyle, setting achievable goals, incorporating healthier habits into your daily routines, trying low-impact exercises, and utilizing support and community, you can reset and restart your health journey.