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Take it Outdoors: Fun Fall Workouts

by Le-Vel 0 Comments
Take it Outdoors: Fun Fall Workouts

For many of us, the summer was near-endless. Brutal temperatures took the fun out of outdoor exercise. And now, Mother Nature is rewarding us for our patience. The temperatures are beginning to fall even so slightly. Crisp air not only brings relief; it opens up the outside once again. Fall is the perfect occasion to take your workout outdoors. Without the oppressive heat and humidity, your only limit is your imagination. Need some inspiration?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Rake and bag the leaves in your yard – or volunteer to help an elderly neighbor. Manual labor can elevate your heart rate just as fast as a traditional cardio workout.

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  • Take your run to a new trail or path in your neighborhood. For starters, varying up your route helps eliminate boredom. Exposure to different surfaces (sidewalk, grass, street, trail, sand) also could help you avoid overuse injuries and strengthen your leg muscles.
  • Go for a hike, and take in the fall scenery. Don’t have the foggiest idea where to find a hiking trail in your area? Check out these suggestions.
  • Set your alarm for a few minutes earlier (it’s a good habit, anyway!), and treat your dog to a good, brisk walk before the day begins.

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  • Take the kids to your local park for a good game of Frisbee.
  • There’s no time like the present to try a new sport. Head to an area lake for canoeing or paddle boarding.
  • Take an evening bike ride while the sun sets, and feel the stresses of your day melt away.

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  • Train as a family for a 5K. You can almost always find a 5K in your community, and many of them are likely to be themed races, which just makes these events that much more fun.
  • Try an outdoor boot camp. What sounded torturous in July may be a fun way to work out with your friends in November. Community boot camps have become wildly popular in recent years for the camaraderie and convenience they offer busy adults.

With shorter days and longer nights, changes in daylight can leave you feeling low on energy. Now is the time to practice a bit of self-care, making sure that you fuel your body with the right nutrition, get plenty of sleep and block out time for exercise on your calendar. Keeping your commitment to fitness is one of the best ways to boost your mental and physical health throughout the fall. Smart decisions now establish good habits that can help keep you on the right track during the winter months.

Quick, Healthy Breakfast Ideas to Thrive All Day

by Le-Vel 1 Comment
Quick, Healthy Breakfast Ideas to Thrive All Day

Whether or not breakfast really is the most important meal of the day remains up for debate. Some of us – and particularly those who begin their day with a workout – can’t live without it, others claim to get an upset stomach from it, and still others simply don’t feel hungry. Nevertheless, breakfast time is the first opportunity you have to fuel your body and prepare it for the demands ahead. A growling stomach can put a real damper on your morning.

One of the biggest obstacles to breakfast is, unsurprisingly, lack of time, which leads some of us to head to the nearest drive-though. While that’s better than nothing, it’s probably not much better.

The reality is that you can fuel your body with a healthy breakfast, and it doesn’t have to take long at all to prepare. With just a little planning, you can give your body the nutrition it needs. If you’re not that hungry in the morning, that’s fine; even a small snack will help you avoid becoming ravenous later. Making a healthy choice in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. A satisfied stomach won’t be as tempted by the box of donuts on a coworker’s desk, or by a greasy drive-through sandwich.

Le-Vel’s simple, three-step THRIVE regimen is one of the easiest ways to get the nutritional support you need, and quickly. Begin with THRIVE Premium Lifestyle Capsules, apply your THRIVE Premium Lifestyle Derma Fusion Technology (DFT) and then enjoy THRIVE Premium Lifestyle Mix. This 1-2-3 start to your day is done before your workday begins, but you’ll feel the benefits – including everything from mental clarity to digestive support, weight management, joint and lean muscle support – all day long.

Check out these easy, nutrition-packed breakfast ideas:

  • Our favorite, of course!  THRIVE Premium Lifestyle Mix in Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry or Apple Pie. It doesn’t get much easier – or tastier – than a THRIVE shake. Mix and go. It may taste like dessert in a glass, but this gluten-free, ultra-micronized shake formula is packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, enzymes, probiotics, amino acids and plant extracts. And THRIVE Premium Lifestyle Mix delivers a variety of benefits including lean muscle support and weight management.
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  • Sliced cooked eggs in a pita
  • English muffin topped with peanut butter and sliced banana; reduced-fat cream cheese and sliced strawberries; egg, tomato and veggie sausage patty; avocado; or turkey

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  • Whole wheat wrap spread with almond butter and topped with fresh fruit of your choice
  • 1 (6- to 8-ounce) container of unsweetened reduced-fat Greek yogurt topped with almonds and a teaspoon of honey
  • Overnight oats: There’s no wrong way to do this. If you’ve got a mason jar or a small bowl or container, pour some unsweetened almond milk or reduced-fat milk into the bottom, then add your choice of ingredients: a dollop of yogurt, chia seeds, maple syrup and/or peanut butter. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, stir in some chopped banana or other fruit, chopped nuts, whatever floats your boat.

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  • Whole-grain pancakes: Make your own, and freeze them in individual portions. Grab and go in the morning.
  • Homemade breakfast cookies: And you don’t even have to bake them. Here’s a recipe.
  • Mini grab-and-go quiches (mix of egg whites and whole eggs, your choice of sautéed veggies, chopped turkey bacon, sprinkle of reduced-fat cheese). Pour into a greased muffin pan, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Every morning starts with a decision. Will you fuel your body for sustained energy and performance, or will you hit a mid-day slump and crash? It’s up to you.

Finding the Balance (and Keeping It)

by Le-Vel 0 Comments
Finding the Balance (and Keeping It)

Work-life balance: the term is sort of cliché, but all of us struggle with it, don’t we? No matter if you’re working in an office setting full time or part time, you work from home, you’re a stay-at-home mom juggling the demands and schedules of your children, you’re squeezed for time. And, let’s face it, when you’re short on time, self-care takes the back burner.

Are we really busier, or does it just seem like we are? Certainly, technology is hogging a lot of our time. Those smartphones and tablets tempt us to “check in” first thing in the morning, during breakfast, on the drive in to work, during meetings and conference calls, while you’re sitting at your child’s soccer practice and during your evening hours. While technology isn’t the only cause of our work-life imbalance, nobody can deny that it’s a prime suspect.

Ready to reclaim your time and your life? Start setting some boundaries with the following tips:

Become a list-maker

If you don’t keep a calendar of the week’s events, your commitments will pop up on you, catching you off-guard and leaving you feeling overwhelmed. Or, if you’ve forgotten about a commitment, you might end up scheduling another conflicting one. Skip the confusion – keep an online calendar that issues reminders, and make a daily list of tasks. You can even go old school and write your task list, then enjoy the satisfaction of crossing off each item as it’s completed.

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Write a letter

It’s all too easy to send a quick email to thank someone for a gift, or to say hello. Challenge yourself to sit down and put pen to paper. This slower process forces you to be more mindful about what you’re going to say, and we can guarantee that your recipient will love that you took the time to write.

Tame the technology beast

Our phones are a necessary evil, but you don’t have to be chained to yours. The constant chiming of our phones – signaling an incoming email or text – puts us on call 24 hours a day. Silence your phone when you arrive home at night. If you absolutely must check it, give yourself a designated time to review and respond to messages, preferably after your children are asleep.

Insist on being present

Feel like you spend your day split in 100 directions, but you’re not really focused on any of them? Turn your phone on silent during meetings, and keep it out of sight. Keep the radio off on the car when you’re driving the kids to school, and bring back the lost art of conversation. Used to eating lunch at your computer? Try focusing on your meal instead. Studies show that distracted eating leads to greater calorie consumption, a sedentary lifestyle and, ultimately, weight gain.

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Skip the guilt

Remember: you’re under no obligation to say yes to everything. Particularly if you’re a parent, you’re going to receive numerous opportunities to volunteer at school and during extra-curricular events. And because those opportunities are so plentiful, that’s all the more reason why you can say no often and yes only occasionally – when you know you have room in your schedule. When you say no, don’t offer a reason. A “thank you, but I’m afraid I can’t this time” is sufficient. No explanation needed. (Now doesn’t that feel great?)

And here’s another tip: If you have to grab store-bought cookies for the school party, tell the kids to eat cereal for dinner or pick up take-out for the office potluck, give yourself permission to buy convenience.

Always say yes to your health

You can’t take on the world if you don’t take care of yourself. Whenever it’s possible, strive for adequate sleep, daily exercise, an 80/20 approach to eating (80 percent veggies and fruits, lean meats and fish, nuts, whole grains, legumes, dairy; 20 percent wiggle room), plenty of water, and the appropriate supplements that help you operate at your best.

Maintaining work-life balance is a lifelong struggle, but if you set your boundaries and stick to them, you’ll be happier and healthier for it.

7 Things Successful People do Before 7 a.m.

by Le-Vel 1 Comment
7 Things Successful People do Before 7 a.m.

It’s a fact: The wee hours of the morning are the healthy person’s best-kept secret. Odds are good that you’re not a “morning person,” and really, who is? Getting up early is a decision to place success over the snooze button – and, once you repeat this behavior several mornings in a row, it becomes a habit … even if getting out of bed never gets easier (and it doesn’t).

Why are the early morning hours so critical? It’s the only time of day during which nobody needs you. You can focus on your needs alone, with no interruptions. And it’s amazing how much you can accomplish during just an hour or two of this precious time.

Turn in a bit earlier, set your alarm and practice these smart habits before sunrise:

Banish the snooze button. Do you really feel more refreshed after 9 more minutes of hazy sleep? Place your alarm clock across the room from your bed. Promise yourself that once you’re up, you’re up. Commit to action.

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Exercise. Stuck in a cycle of either skipping exercise altogether or saying “I’ll just do it when I get home”? Life gets in the way. You’re going to run into a million obstacles over the course of your day that will derail even the best intentions. Keep your workout clothes next to your bed so they’re the first thing you see. Whether you hit the road for a walk or a run, go to a nearby gym or exercise at home – even just for 10 minutes – you’re going to feel more accomplished, more focused and more alive by the time the obligations of your day begin.

Review your top “to-dos” for the day. Before bed, write down your three biggest priorities for the following day. Read them in the morning when you wake up. If you can knock one of those items off your list – preferably your biggest task — or at least make progress on it, you’re well on your way to a successful day. This smart habit helps kick procrastination to the curb. Imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel knowing that you’ve already worked on your most pressing item by the time your day begins.

Do a quick email scan. Allow yourself to take a preliminary took at your inbox, and address any urgent emails now, before the workday begins.

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Drink a big glass of water, then eat breakfast. Water fills you up, of course, but it has other benefits. It hydrates the body after a long night’s sleep, it’s good for the skin and reportedly good for your metabolism, as well. For breakfast, keep it whole and healthy – something that delivers natural energy, like THRIVE Premium Lifestyle Shake.

Listen to something positive and/or educational. Instead of grumbling about your commute, use the time to your advantage. Podcasts are a smart way to set yourself up for a successful day. Check out Happier with Gretchen Rubin, 99 Percent Invisible, This American Life, How I Built This and Ted Talks, to name but a few of your choices.

Reflect and be grateful. Write down three things you’re grateful for today. Meditate for five minutes. Set your intentions for your day, and enjoy these few moments of silence.

The next time that alarm clock goes off, consider that what happens immediately afterward is what will determine the course of your day – and, ultimately, your success.

Stress: Slay the Silent Villian

by Le-Vel 1 Comment
Stress: Slay the Silent Villian

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” — Mohandas Gandhi

You know the obvious signs of stress: low energy, mild headaches, general aches and discomforts, lack of sound sleep, and a lowered immune system. But for millions, stress is so fundamental to who we are that we hardly notice it’s there anymore. This undesired trespasser takes up permanent residence in our brains and, ultimately, our bodies. It makes itself known only when it negatively impacts your well-being. By then, its impact can affect your overall quality of life.

Here are some signs that stress could be affecting you without your knowledge:

You’re becoming more forgetful.

A missed deadline here, a forgotten meeting there. Leaving home without your wallet, or spacing out on your child’s after-school appointment. It’s happened to all of us. But if these instances are starting to occur more often, you could be dealing with an overload. Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience indicated that stressful events can interact with specific genes in the brain and shrink the size of the hippocampus. And that can affect your ability to take in and retain new information.

The solution: Exercise, meditation, adequate sleep and time with friends all help to combat the effects of stress.

Your stomach is in knots.

What happens in your brain can have an effect on your digestion. When your brain perceives a threat, you go into the fight-or-flight response, and all of the body’s resources are redirected to address that perceived threat. A report issued by the University of Maryland Medical Center states: “The brain and intestines are closely related. They are controlled by many of the same hormones and parts of the nervous system. Some research suggests that the gut itself has features of a primitive brain.” Stress can either slow down or speed up your digestive process. And stressing about your digestion simply makes the problem worse.

The solution: Eat smaller portions, avoid heavy meals with high fat content, drink plenty of water and be sure to incorporate fiber-rich foods in your diet.

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You just hurt.

Mild aches and discomforts can occur when your body is under stress. You might have just figured that general joint and muscle discomfort were part of getting older. But tress could be at the root of your problems. Does your jaw feel sore when you chew food? You may not even be aware that you’re grinding your teeth while you sleep. Is your back is bothering you more than ever? Consider how much time you spend sitting each day, between your commute, a desk job and evening activities. Many of us don’t even realize how tense our muscles are when we’re sitting for hours on end.

The solution: For jaw discomfort, see your dentist for an exam. You might need a night guard to ward off further tooth deterioration caused by grinding. For general back aches or discomforts, regular standing and stretching breaks, a lumbar pillow, exercise and an ergonomic assessment — if it’s available to you at work — are all smart ways to combat soreness.

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You’re always tired.

“When we do not sleep long or well enough, our bodies do not get the full benefits of sleep, such as muscle repair and memory consolidation,” says the American Psychological Association. “Sleep is so crucial that even a slight lack of restful sleep or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood.” Stress doesn’t just prevent you from sleeping soundly at night. The fact is that, even if you’re “asleep” for eight hours, if you’re stressed, the quality of your sleep is impacted. You might not have a restful night’s sleep or wake up not feeling fully rested – and not even understand why you feel so tired.

The solution: A good workout at least two hours before bedtime can help you burn off the stresses of your day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a two-hour “buffer zone” before bedtime, during which all work-related activities are shut down. No phone calls – not even to friends or family, as conversation activates the brain. Some light reading, meditation and/or white noise will help prep the mind and body for a good night’s sleep.

Overcoming stress is really about reclaiming your life, and recapturing the joy and vitality that the daily grind may have stolen from you. Life is complicated enough, so taking care of yourself should be simple. Starting each day on the right foot sets the tone for your day. The THRIVE suite of products was designed just for that purpose. More than 4 million THRIVE customers throughout the globe are enjoying all-day benefits including joint support, digestive support, mood support and more restful sleep.