P is for Probiotics

A few months ago, I started noticing that I was having some pretty annoying stomach issues. I would eat regular sized meals (albeit sometimes not all that healthy), make a conscious effort not to overeat, try to make sure I was getting enough protein, cutting down on the amount of dairy I was having (which was always an issue for me) but was still feeling really bloated at the end of it. As a result, I was eating less food because I thought I was overeating. Then I was getting enough nutrients, feeling sluggish, but didn’t want to eat more because I felt sick when I did that, too. I was feeling really frustrated and was venting to my friend at work who said she had experienced the same thing. Her fix? Probiotics. 

I’d heard of ’em before but had never looked into their benefits. I went to the pharmacy, talked to their naturopath, and 15 minutes later was walking out with a bottle of probiotics. I took them for 2 months and almost immediately noticed a difference (typically 5 days of straight usage will result in a difference). I was able to eat regular sized meals and not feel bloated and sick and foods that used to bother me didn’t as much anymore. I ran out of probiotics and then never got more (which I didn’t think was a big problem). False. Back came my stomach issues and bloating. Moral of the story? This girl needs probiotics in her life (bless, fam).

So, what are they and how do they help you?

  • Probiotics are special types of bacteria and yeast that lives in a healthy body (aka good bacteria!)
  • Probiotics act as the peacekeeper and help restore order and keep your body ticking properly
  • Probiotics fix what needs to be fixed – they go in, figure out what’s needed and respond – smart little guys!
  • They help improve beneficial bacteria in your gut – eating good, healthy, real unprocessed food will also help with this
  • They improve your gut’s barrier – they help with the cells and stimulate mucus production, which makes a barrier and makes it harder for bugs to wreak havoc
  • Studies have also shown that a healthy gut can lead to a healthy mind – if your microbiome is unbalanced, it can negatively affect your mood, mental health, immune health, and brain function. Probiotics in your gut appear to make compounds that directly affect your brain in a good way

What should I look for?

  • Potency count: CFUs or colony forming units of 50 billion or higher – that’s how many bacteria you will receive per does
  • What’s the shelf life? Does it need to be refrigerated or can it stay out?
  • How many different strains of bacteria does it contain? Look for high diversity or multiple strains. Especially look for:
    • Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum that reside in the small intestine or the upper GI tract among your immune cells
    • Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium bifidum that reside in the large intestine or the lower bowel, which are also critical areas for health

If you’re having stomach issues, I highly recommend checking out probiotics. As always, it’s important to talk to your doctor and do your own research before starting anything like this!

Note: information for this post has been found from here and here

What Is My Workout Motivation?

If you’ve met me and seen my eating habits (hello major sweet tooth) you might wonder what my workout motivator is. People often ask me how I stay motivated or can drag my butt to the gym at 5:30 in the morning. It’s not to lose weight, or to be skinny, or ‘do it for the gram’. There’s nothing wrong with those, but here’s why I workout:

  1. It gives me energy – when I don’t go to the gym, I feel super sluggish and demotivated. Especially because I go so early in the morning before work, I feel extra accomplished when it’s 7:30am and I’ve already been up for a few hours at the gym.
  2. It helps me sleep better – J and I could live and die by our schedule. As I mentioned before, I’m an early riser. This means that going to bed early is a must and with consistent workouts, I find that I sleep soundly through the night, I don’t toss and turn, and I certainly don’t have trouble falling asleep.
  3. I feel more confident – I think everyone at some point deals with some sort of body confidence issue – whether they feel too fat, too thin, or somewhere in between, so to say I haven’t would be a lie. There have been times in my life where there were aspects of my body that I wanted to change. I’ll say that working out hasn’t really fixed any of that (where are you, six-pack abs?)  but it has given me the confidence to accept and love my body how it is. I feel strong because I lift weights. I feel proud that I can run up some stairs when our condo elevator is down and not feel out of breath. I still have things about my body I would love to change but the confidence I get from working out and seeing small changes outweighs all of that.
  4. It’s addictive and never boring – I need to be busy – I’m not good at sitting still or doing nothing. Working out is a great fix for that – whether it’s a HIIT class, going to the spin studio, or spending time at the condo gym, I love that it gives me something to do and is productive at the same time.
  5. I workout so I can eat burgers – this is probably my life motto but you can swap out “burgers” for whatever indulgent snack I’m having. I wouldn’t be able to eat the food I like or indulge when I do if I wasn’t working out at the rate I do. I’d feel too guilty. Staying active also allows me to indulge when I feel like it!

What are your motivators for working out and living a healthy lifestyle?