Healthy Frozen Treats with WSPA

Every year the last few weeks of summer always feel like the hottest. Stay cool and hydrated with these homemade popsicles! They are easy to make, have less than 5 ingredients each and are a cool snack after a long hot day.

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Raspberry Lime Popsicles

Serves: 6 popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups raspberries
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 6oz water
  • 1 Tablespoon agave

Directions:

  1. Place the rapsberries, lime juice, water and agave in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Fill each popsicle mold to the fill line with the mixture,  insert popsicle stick and freeze for at least 6 hours
  3. To unmold your pops, run the forms under warm water for 10-20 seconds before eating!

Check out these great Zoku Classic Pop Molds, 6 Easy-release Popsicle Molds With Sticks and Drip-guards, BPA-free

Have nutrition questions or want to know more about becoming a Brittany Jones Nutrition Group client? Contact us here!

10 Things I’ve Learned in the First Two Years of Being an Entrepreneur

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Today is the two year anniversary of my private practice! On July 5th, 2017 I announced to my friends and family on social media that I had started a business – enabling them to hold myself accountable to pursuing my dream of being a business owner.

To be honest with you, I really wanted to write this blog post last year sharing what I learned in the first year, but I didn’t feel like I had enough experience to write it. While that sounds silly, I wasn’t in the place I am now with the confidence of where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going.

Two years ago I was working as a food service/corporate wellness RD for a large company in Greer, SC. The position was OK and the schedule made it easy for planning my wedding, but after the wedding I found myself very bored and not challenged enough. I started my private practice as a “side hustle” while working a full time position, seeing my clients at night after work and on the weekends. I did that for seven months before leaving the full time position to accept a virtual part time position in nutrition counseling, which created a perfect amount of breathing room to allow me to grow my business. I worked both that part time job and saw my private practice clients for another eight months. Though it has been two years that I have had my private practice, I didn’t actually gain the confidence in myself and finances to “take the plunge” into full time entrepreneur until October of 2018 – which was actually just 9 months ago! (I was so incredibly burnt out, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could do both)

I get a lot of questions about starting a business from other RDs and other local business owners in Greenville, SC – and I am excited to share with you some of the things I have learned in the past two years!

1. A coworking space is a great place to start
When I started my practice I was meeting with clients for nutrition counseling at their house, college, or at a coffee shop (and doing meal plans from my home office). This didn’t last very long, and once I brought on my 10th client I knew I needed a space. HIPPA was a concern for me, and I looked for a space that had a private meeting room that I could book when I needed to meet for a client session in private. A coworking space made for a perfect beginning! Not only did it involve less risk, but I also met a lot of other entrepreneurs in Greenville, SC and started to build my community. It also made the transition way less lonely knowing I always had someone to talk to! Last summer I got to the point where my client load had increased so much that I needed a private office space, and I started working with a realtor to find the perfect office to rent. My realtor was amazing and I was so lucky to have found our space on Halton Road. I moved out of the coworking office early, and started seeing clients in my private space in December of 2018 – and it has been amazing!

2. Network in your area
I know this is something you probably hear all the time, but honestly this is one of my favorite parts of being an entrepreneur. I love connecting with other business owners on social media and in our city. I have met with SO many amazing lady bosses and learned something from each and every one of them. Just like they always say – it’s all about who you know, and I have really enjoyed meeting so many new faces! (many of which have turned into clients of mine, partners, or leads) The networking, volunteer opportunities, and partnerships I have developed over the past two years have been crucial to building my brick and mortar practice. Don’t forget it’s all about collaboration not competition – so network with other people in your field too!

3. Be confident in your ideal client by doing self-discovery work
This is something that I wish I had done earlier. This past December I finally hired a business coach and one of the first things we did was self-discovery work where I answered: Who am I? What is my hero story? What kind of clientele do I want to help? Who is my ideal client, and why? I believe that I niched down too early (more to come on that below) and I think if I really dove into my story and the unique service I had to offer clients earlier in the process, I could have probably left my other jobs sooner.

4. Build your schedule for the life you want
Owning my schedule is one of the big reasons why I started a private practice. I recently took a personality test and found out that I am an “upholder.” I like to know what needs to get done and have clear expectations, but I also value time for my self care. I had a very hard time putting a job before myself/my family in the past. As a business owner, some weeks you work 40 hours, and some you work 100 hours (no joke!) BUT you don’t have to work 9-5 like you do in a corporate job. Start your day early/end later to attend that 11:30AM workout class, or go to the Post Office before it closes, or get your nails done at 9:30AM when they open. I knew that the life I wanted includes both killing it at work, taking care of myself, and being there for my family; being an entrepreneur was the best way to build the life I want.

5. Take the vacation
Take advantage of making your own schedule and take that vacation! The best part about being an entrepreneur is that you don’t have to take a set number of “vacation days” and can go on trips without asking for permission from your boss. Does it suck to come back? Yes, but I often will try to do a little bit while I’m gone to lessen the blow if it’s a long weekend. I have learned that after a long trip away (1+ weeks) to give myself 2-3 days to catch up on admin work and get myself ready for the week before seeing clients again. I get some of my best biz ideas when I’m out of the office – so this is a must!!

6. Build your team
If you’re just getting started, you don’t have to do this right away, but eventually you will want an accountant, a lawyer, and a business coach (here is an affiliate link to the coach Mandy that I used and love!). You are the expert in what you do, so let other people help you with the things you aren’t an expert in. And yes, you need someone else besides your spouse to talk to all about of these ideas!

7. Your clients will value you more than any employer ever will
This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned as a business owner in the past two years. I am someone who gives 110% in my job, and I never felt like my employer truly reciprocated for that effort. I have been so fortunate to have the most amazing clients who value my expertise and dedication to helping them reach their goals. I had to learn this when it came to valuing my packages, and my business coach helped me do that. Don’t base your rates off your salary at your last job – you’re worth more, and your clients will prove it.

8. Listen to advice, and then put your own spin on it
A lot of biz owners, books, and podcasts are going to tell you what worked for them, and advise you on what to do. So just listen, think about it for a week or two, and put your own spin on it (including this blog post). In the end you really need to just listen and go with your gut – no one knows your business like you do. If it doesn’t feel right – it’s probably not. For a long time I was listening to podcasts and thinking “so-and-so did this – so I need do that too!” But after working with my business coach, I was able to set up a game plan, and tune out all of that noise. Take it all in, but really focus on what is best for the business to get you to your 5-10 year goals.

9. Enjoy the down time!
Some months will be booming, and others will be slow. In the past, during those slow months I would try to run specials or try a little too hard to get that new client who might not have been the best fit for my packages. I have grown to realize that it all balances out, and I am trying to enjoy the slow periods a little more by spending time with my husband, my friends, and traveling.

10. It’s OK to make a change
In May of 2019, one year and 10 months after starting my business as Blush Nutrition, we rebanded to the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group. When I started in 2017, I niched down to focus on wedding wellness, only to find that the Greenville market just couldn’t support something like that. (and I wasn’t getting a whole lot of online traction either) In this time I also realized that while I liked working with brides, I also loved working with young professionals, and teaching others to meal plan for success. I kept practicing under this name and when people asked what Blush meant I would say “well, I started out in wedding wellness, hence “Blush,” but it’s really expanded since then.” It all really came to a head when I was asked what my business name meant by an anchor on a news segment, and I couldn’t answer her. It was time for a change. I hired a coach, started at the beginning, and pushed forward for 6 months. At first it felt like a failure, but then I realized that businesses are meant to grow and develop just like we do professionally and personally – and I am so excited that my business has continued to grow with me! Not only did the rebrand align with where my practice is now, but by adding “group” to the name, we have also positioned ourselves to grow and become an expert nutrition center in Greenville, SC. It was hard – but totally worth it!

I could go on and on about the different things I have learned, and this list of 10 things is just the beginning – but I want to hear from YOU! What questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at brittany@brittanyjonesRD.com

Lastly THANK YOU for being here, for your support, and your encouragement. I could have never built this business without our amazing community, and I am so grateful for you all. Here’s to even bigger things in year three!

Popcorn Trail Mix 3 Ways

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Do you feel like you are running out of healthy snack ideas? A popcorn trailmix is a fun take on a classic snack that the whole family will love! It’s easy to make and store, and can also be packed as a healthy vacation snack.

We always recommend snacks that incorporate both carb + protein. Protein helps keep your body satiated by releasing appetite suppressing hormones, stabilizing blood sugar, and slowing digestion.

Air popped popcorn is a quick snack that is low in calories and sodium. When paired with nutritious proteins and fats, it can become a satiating snack. We prefer air popped popcorn over microwave popcorn because it is a whole food without any added processed oils (like hydrogenated oils in the “fake” butter) and is a great base for creating a trail mix.

Popcorn Trail Mix 3 Ways

Follow the recipes below by simply adding the ingredients into a large bowl and tossing them together!

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Chocolate Cranberry Popcorn Trail Mix (Serves 4)

  • 4 Cups air popped popcorn
  • ¼ Cup almonds and/or cashews
  • ¼ Cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ Cup dried cranberries

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Savory Popcorn Trail Mix (Serves 4)

  • 4 Cups air popped popcorn
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ¼ Cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
  • ¼ Cup dried chickpeas
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

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Tropical Popcorn Trail Mix (Serves 4)

  • 4 Cups air popped popcorn
  • ¼ Cup dried Mango
  • ¼ Cup coconut chips
  • ¼ Cup macadamia nuts
  • 2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds

How to air pop popcorn:

  • Option 1: Place 3 Tablespoons of a single layer of popcorn kernels in the bottom of a deep pot with a lid on top. Turn the stove on medium heat. Carefully listen to the popcorn pop. The popcorn will pop vigorously at first. When the pops are roughly 5 seconds apart, turns off the stove. Wait a few minutes to allow the popcorn to cool and move to your desired bowl
  • Option 2: Here is the air popper that Brittany uses and you can get it on Amazon
  • Option 3: Buy your own pre-popped popcorn such as SkinnyPop at your local grocery store

-Written and photographed by Gabby Childers, Brittany Jones Nutrition Intern

Instagram Accounts We 💗

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Comparison is the killer of all joy.

Comparison is something that comes up in our client sessions often, and today we wanted to take a minute to talk about comparing ourselves to others in our community –  how it can negatively impact our goals.

Your community is not just about the people you physically choose to surround yourself with anymore – it’s also about the community that you create for yourself on social media. This includes brands/businesses, gyms, influencers/bloggers, friends, and family.

If a photo you saw social media is creating negative self talk – unfollow that account now. You don’t have time for that!

Practice avoiding the comparison of current self to your old-self, your friends, family, strangers, coworkers, neighbors and ESPECIALLY photoshopped media and social media images. Social media is a place to selectively connect with others and build your community – make sure yours is a positive one!

Here are some of our favorite Instagram accounts to follow:

  1. @victoriamyers_ : Victoria is a body positive Registered Dietitian in Florida. She is the owner of her own private practice, Nourishing Minds Nutrition and the host of the Nourishing Women Podcast. She is a new mom and in her practice, she places an emphasis on women’s nutrition and wellness without fad diets.
  2. @dietitianspalmvalley: This is one of our favorite accounts to follow, because they are so REAL. Sammy, Mindy and Aimee take a no BS approach to nutrition and call out all things diet culture. Our favorite is their f*** diet Friday series. Check it out – you won’t be able to stop laughing!
  3. @stephaniechinart : Stephanie is an illustrator from Toronto, Ontario. She shares her body positive and women’s empowerment designs over on her Instagram account. Stephanie utilizes her talents to tell women that they are more valuable than how society defines women.
  4. @Kait.hurley : Kait is the founder of the KAIT app. In her app she creates mindful movement by implementing a meditation session in each workout. Her goal is to use exercise to help individuals get stronger both physically and mentally – something we can get behind.
  5. @jaclynlondonrd: Jackie is the nutrition director of Good Housekeeping magazine, a Registered Dietitian and author of Dressing on Side: and other diet myths debunked. She is all about debunking diet myths and sharing healthy recipes – all with a side of reality and humor.
  6. @thebodypositive : The Body Positive is a non-profit from California that helps people overcome conflicts with their bodies to lead happier, more productive lives. Over on their Instagram, they use real women’s quotes, experiences, and artwork to express real body positivity.
  7. @aerie is a female underwear and swimwear brand owned by American Eagle. Aerie was one of the first clothing lines to leave their photos untouched. They use the hashtag #aeriereal to give women the power to share images of their real untouched bodies.
  8. @thirdlove Third Love is a bra and underwear company for women that carries 78 different sizes. Their mission is to supply bra sizes to accommodate women of all sizes and shapes and they promote this on their social media. (Also now is the time to unfollow Victoria’s Secret and all of their models that make you feel inadequate.)
  9. @girlfriend Girlfriend Collective is an active wear line based in Seattle Washington. Their pieces are ethically manufactured, made of sustainable materials, and they carry sizes from XXS to 6XL.

What are your favorite accounts to follow? Let us know in the comments below!

Meet our 2019 Summer Intern: Gabby!

Thank you to the students who applied for our 2019 summer internship. I was fortunate enough to interview several students, and after careful consideration, I am very excited to introduce you the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group Summer Intern, Gabby!

Gabby is not only a nutrition major at Clemson University, she is also a food blogger with a very impressive social media following! She wants to own her own private practice one day, and this internship is her first step towards her goal. She is energetic, eager to learn, and marketing savvy. Get to know Gabby below!

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Q: Where do you go to school and what is your major? Are you involved in any activities?   

Gabby: I am a Junior at Clemson University majoring in Nutrition with an emphasis in Dietetics. Prior to Clemson, I was a Biology major playing volleyball at Erskine College. Once I figured out Biology wasn’t for me, I took a leap of faith and decided to pursue my passion of nutrition at Clemson. I am a student sports performance nutrition volunteer, and I am the Editor in Chief for the Nutrition Club.

Q: What is your dream job?

Gabby: My dream is to open my own private practice where I can teach my patients how to eat intuitively without any guilt or shame about what’s on their plate. I want to help my patients achieve their goals, and, in addition, I want to give them the tools they need to continue their health journey on their own.

Q: Why did you choose the dietetics field?

Gabby: I chose dietetics because I have seen how our health can influence they way we live our life. Our health starts with what we put in our bodies. The way we eat has an impact on our bodies and our minds. I chose this field because I geek out about this stuff so much that I can’t stop learning! The human body is really neat.

Q: You have a very successful food blog Gab About It and social media following. What inspired you to start blogging? 

Gabby: I was inspired to start my blog when I was living in a dorm my first year of college. I went to a small  school, so basically my only option for meals was either the dining hall or my own dorm room. I took this situation as a challenge, and started to put together healthy meals from my room – smoothies, oatmeal, steamed veggies, salads, etc. Then one day I decided to start sharing my food on Instagram because that was the cool thing to do at the time. Normally, I don’t like to follow trends, but I’m thankful that I followed this one.

Q: What is your favorite dish?

Gabby: My favorite dish would have to be my Dad’s grilled salmon with baked sweet potato and lemon garlic asparagus.

Q: What are you must excited about this summer working as the Brittany Jones Nutrition intern?

Gabby: I’m most excited about learning the behind the scenes of owning your own business. Most people see the glamorous side of being a business owner through social media, but I want to see the dirty details that make a business successful. I’m also excited to use my knowledge to educate the Greenville community about nutrition. It’s going to be a great summer, and I can’t wait to see where it takes Brittany Jones Nutrition.

 

Please join me in sending a warm welcome to Gabby!

Meet Our NEW Registered Dietitian: Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM

I am very excited to announce Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM as the newest member of the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group team! Christie offers nutrition counseling in packages of three or six sessions in our Medical Nutrition Therapy program. Keep reading to learn more about her background, her favorite food, and the #1 that she wants her new clients to know.

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Q&A with Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I am originally from Atlanta, GA. I grew up in a family with 2 younger sisters and parents who loved all things sports. I played Varsity Tennis all through out high school. When I graduated high school it was off to Clemson University to study Nutrition!

Q: Why is being a Registered Dietitian your dream job?

A: I struggled with being overweight and my relationship with food when I was younger. I went to Clemson University to study nutrition to learn more for my own benefit and to help others. Years later, I love helping others learn to love food, and how it can help them (and not hurt).

Q: You also are a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), what made you want to specialize in diabetes?

A: I first started practicing as a dietitian in the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina, which has one of the highest rates of Type II Diabetes in the country. I worked with a Registered Nurse who was also a CDE to create and implement a Diabetes Self Management Program to help better meet the needs of the patients in that community. The more people I saw with diabetes, the more I wanted to learn about this disease. I then began to pursue getting certified as a Diabetes Educator myself!

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Veggie pizza or roasted potatoes…oh and PICKLES!

Q: Take us through your typical day.

A: One of the things I love most about being a dietitian is every single day is different. Most days of the week I wake up and go to Orangetheory Fitness Greenville for my favorite HIIT workout. I started 6 months ago and I have loved seeing the progression in my endurance and strength! Other mornings I might walk my golden retriever Barkley around the neighborhood. For breakfast, I almost always have a Berry Protein Smoothie and some hot tea. I also work for the Business Health Department for Prisma Health where I get to meet with employees of the hospital as well as other companies in the area. My days are mostly filled with one on one appointments with clients for Prisma Health and/or the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group discussing weight loss and chronic disease management, or teaching group classes on various health topics. It is such an honor to work with people who are making a conscious decision to put their health first!

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Greenville, SC?

A: My husband, Michael, and I absolutely love to try out new restaurants in the area. There are so many! We also really enjoy biking or walking the Swamp Rabbit Trail as well.

Q: What would you like your future clients to know about working with you?

A: I am all about Progress NOT Perfection! When you come and meet with me please don’t feel like you have to change everything in your life overnight. I love to help people make small, sustainable changes until they are confidently doing them regularly. Having a healthy and balanced eating pattern is a continuum, and I am going to meet you exactly where you’re at, with absolutely no judgement at all!

Click here to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call to discuss your goals and book an appointment with Christie today!

Women: Be an Advocate for Your Health

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“You don’t need to get your cholesterol labs checked – your under 30.”

“It’s probably just IBS.”

“There’s no need to do a well check every year, just come back every 3 years, or if something is wrong.”

It’s no secret that women don’t always put themselves and their health first. Women selflessly put other priorities like their family and their careers before their needs. So why is it that when they finally make it a priority to see the doctor for a well check or because something is wrong, they hear the comments above, and their requests are brushed off?

I unfortunately have heard every one of the phrases above myself, or first hand from a client.

This week is National Women’s Health Week, and if you have heard any of  the comments above, or feel as though you are not being heard by your medical provider, I encourage you to be an advocate for your health and keep fighting until you have an answer! Do not accept a medical provider brushing off your symptoms as normal/IBS/hormones/etc. If you think something is wrong and you are not being heard, seek a second opinion and find yourself another provider.

Here are 3 ways women can take control of their health care now: 

  1. You need more than just an OBGYN. Research has shown that many women treat their OBGYN as their internal medicine provider/primary care physician – but they are not. Think of establishing a medical home with an internal medicine provider/primary care physician as your “home base.” This is the person who knows everything about your health, your family history, and the specialty providers you see. They will set goals with you, and check your regularly for heart disease, diabetes, mental health, cancer, nutrition, bone density, and keep your vaccinations up to date.
  2. Start a health journal today. Log your symptoms along with the day, time, and any other pertinent information (whether you were exercising, what you were eating, stress level, etc). I use the Healthie app with my clients, and I always encourage them to log symptoms as well as their meals/snacks to show to their provider. This will provide more information, and allow the provider to see patterns. If you have the ability to send this to your provider before your appointment, even better!
  3. Write down your questions and concerns. Start a list of questions that you have or topics you would like to discuss in your phone 1-2 weeks before your appointment with any medical professional (doctor, dietitian, physical therapist, psychiatrist). It’s easy to get nervous and forget what you wanted to ask the provider. This list ensures that your questions are answered, regardless of the time restraints that may be put on your appointment.

You know your body better than anyone else.TRUST YOUR GUT. If you feel that your symptoms are being brushed off, keep pushing. If you are not seeing results, it’s time to find another provider.

 

 

 

How to Manage Stress

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Hello again Blush Nutrition family! Jessica Sharp here, brain expert and the Founder of Sharp Brain Consulting. 

In my last blog post (which can be found here), I talked about the different kinds of stress and what it does to your brain and bodies. Now that I have explained the negative implications of stress, I am going to give you some coping mechanisms to help you manage stress.  

Before I do that, though, I think it is important to say a few things: y’all already know this, but stress is a completely normal part of life. Quite frankly, we need a little bit of stress in our lives. That acute stress that I mentioned before can often be classified as ‘normal’ stress. Chronic stress is the type of stress that you should be concerned about – things like a stressful job, prolonged financial issues, a sense of having to juggle multiple competing priorities. All these stressors are examples of not only long term problems but challenges that do not have easy solutions.

Coping Skills

Deep breathing and meditation. Meditation and deep breathing increases the oxygen in your brain and can literally calm you down. Meditation creates a reaction that is the opposite of the “fight or flight” response that stress induces. According to WebMD, “training our bodies on a daily basis to achieve this state of relaxation can lead to enhanced mood, lower blood pressure, improved digestion, and a reduction of everyday stress.” There are a variety of apps that you can use to introduce meditation into your life- Simple Habit is my favorite and lots of people like Calm. I would encourage meditation on a regular basis so that it can really help when you need it. Research has said that meditating consistently for 8 weeks can literally change your brain – it can decrease the size of your amygdala where that “fight or flight” response comes from. And protip, start off with a 5 minute guided meditation once a day for a few weeks. It is something that shouldn’t be too hard to infuse into your life and will allow you to get ‘better’ at meditating (because when you start, it may be hard to quiet your brain).

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Progressive muscle relaxation. My therapist introduced me to progressive muscle relaxation. With this exercise, you tense up muscle groups then release them one at a time. WebMD says you can’t be anxious (or stressed) when your body is relaxed. They dedicate a whole page to progressive muscle relaxation and let you know how to do it. Again, regular practice makes it easier it implement when you need it.

Decrease stressor. I recognize that we can’t always eliminate the things that cause us stress in our lives, but when you can, you should.

Gratitude. I have always had a love/apathetic relationship with gratitude. I wanted to embrace the idea of practicing gratitude but didn’t necessarily know if it would be beneficial or helpful. Gratitude researcher Robert Emmons would say I am wrong. He says that practicing gratitude can have multiple positive impacts us in a variety of ways including:

  • Physical: Stronger immune systems, Lower blood pressure, Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
  • Psychological: Higher levels of positive emotions, More alert, alive, and awake, More joy and pleasure, More optimism and happiness

In that same article linked above, Emmons says that gratitude allows us to celebrate the present, blocks toxic/negative emotions, helps us to be more stress-resistant (gratitude allows us to recover more quickly), and helps us to have a higher sense of self-worth.

There are several ways to practice gratitude: you can keep a gratitude journal and write down things that you are grateful for (and there is something about handwriting things), thinking about things you are grateful for during the day (maybe it is in the morning, at night, or before a meal), or using an app (I use the uplifter app).

Self-care routine. It goes without saying that a self-care routine can help decrease stress in the moment and in the long term. I will say, self-care is talked about a lot, especially among millennials. I still believe in self-care, though. What I think is important about the practice of self-care is that it is unique to YOU, self-care should be something that works for you. My self-care routine includes regular massages, weekend naps, and going to local theatres. Make a list of a few things that energize you and give you joy. Try to incorporate them into your life as much as you can.

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Therapy. If you are really struggling to handle the chronic stress in your life, I would recommend spending some time with a therapist, someone who is trained to help provide assistance to people. If you are interested in seeing a therapist, there are a few things I would recommend – first, if you have insurance, see how much your co-pay is. From there, I always tell people to go to Psychology Today’s website where they have a therapist hub; you can filter for therapists who take your insurance and find out more about them. And I always do a short call with a therapist before I make a decision (most of them offer this for free).

Sleep. I have always been a huge proponent of sleep, primarily because I am cranky and less productive when I have less of it. But after reading Thrive by Ariana Huffington, I really began to think more about the benefits of sleep and why it should be something I focus on.

According to Dr. Merril Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist, when you’re tired, you can’t function at your best.

“Loss of sleep impairs your higher levels of reasoning, problem-solving and attention to details.” So, simply put, tired people are less productive at work. Sleep also affects other parts of your body. Your brain and body are working while you sleep. Your sleep affects “growth, stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health.”

PS – a bit about women and stress… For lots of reasons, women generally handle stress in a different way than men. Women tend to be more relational in how they manage stress and are more prone to reach out to a friend or loved one to help cope with stress. The Huffington Post has a great article about women and stress. With that said, if you are a woman, it may be a great idea to include reaching out to someone as a part of your stress management technique.

PSS – I hosted a webinar about chronic stress and the brain with Bossed Up. If you have 45 minutes, you should check it out!

Thank you for reading my blog series on stress and your health – and feel free to engage with me on social media! Follow me on Instagram at @sharpbrainconsulting

 

What kind of stress are you experiencing? April is National Stress Awareness Month

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Stress. This word can evoke a variety of emotions within us and means different things to different people. We have an entire month (the month of April), dedicated to thinking about stress.

My name is Jessica Sharp and I am a brain expert and the Founder of Sharp Brain Consulting. I was a client of Blush Nutrition and loved my experience with Brittany for lots of reasons, but partly because of her holistic approach to health and nutrition. She and I both know that stress impacts weight and health and we both think it is important to talk more in-depth about stress and how it impacts our life.

There are two types of stress: acute and chronic. Acute stress is actually good for our brains and is short and does not have lasting effects on us. When you almost hit someone in your car and have to stop and get anxious about that. That is acute stress. When you are in an unhealthy relationship that consistently makes you feel stressed and anxious, this is chronic stress. Chronic stress, which is also known as toxic stress is what happens when stress becomes constant and consistent. There are a variety of things that can cause chronic stress, but some examples are a dysfunctional family, major work issues, abusive or unhealthy relationships.

I would encourage you to pause here and think about your stress. What is stressing you out? Do you think it is acute or chronic? Having an understanding of the type of stress you are dealing with will help you to manage the symptoms.

Okay, back to the blog. I won’t get too scientific on you, but stress sets off a process in the brain that can have long-term effects on our body. The amygdala is in the back of our brain and is shaped like an almond. Among other things, it activates our ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response that many people have heard it. It also controls our impulses and attaches emotions to memories. When we are experiencing stress, the amygdala sets off a process that increases adrenaline and cortisol and increases our heart rate. When we are experiencing acute, short-term stress, our heart rate goes down and our adrenaline and cortisol levels will decrease after a relatively short amount of time. When our stress is consistent and does not go away quickly, the levels of cortisol and adrenaline don’t decrease. That means are heart rate does not go down to a normal level. Additionally, because cortisol is involved in so many things in our bodies, it decreases our ability to fight infections, can make us gain weight, is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and early death. Early death. Death can literally kill us.

In one of my previous jobs, I was definitely dealing with chronic stress. I loved my job but always felt like I had so much going on and never could find the bottom of my to-do list. The increased levels of cortisol definitely caused weight gain (particularly in my belly- yikes).

In addition to the list above, chronic stress can cause us to experience memory loss and decreased levels of serotonin and dopamine. Those two chemicals are linked to happiness, and when too low can lead to anxiety and depression. Finally, chronic stress can increase the size of our amygdala and decrease the size of our prefrontal cortex. Those are all science-y words to say that we become more impulsive and have a harder time with decision making, long term planning, focusing and organizing.

Later this month, we will talk about how to manage stress to help decrease the likelihood of experiencing these negative outcomes. For now, though, I want you to take some time to think about stress. 

Stress awareness month quotes (1)

Write down the things in your life that cause you stress. Are you experiencing more acute or chronic stress? Thinking about your stressors will not only make you more self-aware but will also help to decrease your stress level.

I will be sharing more de-stressing tips with you later on this month – but bor now, though, feel free to engage with me on social media! Follow me on Instagram at @sharpbrainconsulting

-Written by Jessica Sharp, MPA

 

Spring Clean Your Diet with WSPA

Spring is finally here and I recently shared my tips to spring clean your diet with WSPA Channel 7 News. Warmer weather means that there is lots of produce is in season – and fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and water! Click here to get the Grape, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Chicken Salad recipe that I demonstrated on the segment.

Spring clean your diet by making at least one snack per day consist of produce + protein

Examples below:

  • 1 Cup cucumber slices + 2 Tablespoons hummus
  • 1 Small apple + 1 cheese stick
  • 1/2 Cup blueberries + 1/4 Cup walnuts
  • 17 Grapes + 25 almonds
  • 5 stalks celery + 2 Tablespoons natural nut or seed butter
  • 1 Peach (sliced) + 1 Cup cottage cheese
  • 1 Pear + 1/4 Cup pecans
  • 1/2 bell pepper (sliced) + 2 Tablespoons hummus
  • 1 Cutie + 1/2 Cup pistachios in shell
  • 1/2 Banana + 2 Tablespoons natural nut or seed butter
  • 1/2 Cup raspberries + 1/2 Cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Orange + 1 hard boiled egg

Want to know more about meal planning and nutrition tips for spring? Contact me today to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call.