Jennifer Hanway

Enliven Your Lightest, Brightest You

Jennifer Hanway is a Holistic Nutritionist, Bio Signature Modulation Practitioner and Certified Personal Trainer, originally from London but now living in Newton Centre and working in Back Bay, Boston.

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My Top Five: Apps for Health, Fitness and Wellbeing

  The new year comes with a lot of resolutions for all of us, and if those resolutions include improving your health and wellbeing then read on!

It has been proven many times that we are more likely to stick to our healthy habits if they are made easily accessible to us, and what could be more accessible than our smart phones, tablets and laptops that we cant seem to live without these days!

You can use all of these apps without having to purchase an expensive gadget such as a Fitbit or Jawbone (I don't own any of these).

I love anything that makes wellbeing easier, and as someone that couldn't live without her iPhone I wanted to share with you my top five apps that I use to help with my nutrition, fitness and wellbeing.

1) My Fitness Pal

Available as an App and via their website, My Fitness Pal is my go-to for food tracking for both myself and my clients. It is so easy to use, and has a huge database of foods ranging from grocery store goods to restaurant dishes. Even better, you can scan barcodes on food packaging for easy uploading.

You can also allow your friends to see your food diaries, and this can help accountability, and also makes it very easy for your nutrition coach to keep track of your food intake too (I see you...)

As with all food tracking apps I do not agree with their 'one size fits all' approach to calculating calorie allowances, so I suggest setting your own custom macros in accordance with your goals.

My Fitness Pal is free.

2) Nike+ Training Club

One of the originals and in my opinion the best of all workout apps available, you cant beat the behemoth that is Nike for a huge variety of beautifully shot and easy to follow workouts.

You can set the workout to music from your iTunes library, reiview all the exercises before you start the workout (I love this feature), and view the workout on your television if you have Apple TV. Workouts range from 15 minutes to 45 minutes so even those strapped for time have no excuses!

Nike+ Training Club is free.

3) Yoga Studio

Yoga Studio by Gaiam is my favorite of all the yoga apps available as it is so easy to use, clearly shot, and easily accessible to beginners. It has options for viewing ready made classes, from which you can select based on focus, ability or duration, or you can create your own class depending on what you want to achieve from your practice. From what I have seen so far all you need is a mat and some space, and you are ready to go. I love the Yoga for Back Pain classes, and the Deep Relaxation ; )

Yoga Studio is $3.99.

4) f.lux / Sunn 

Such a simple concept, but I've really found these two apps life changing. Both apps make the color of your computer or smartphone displays adapt to the time of day showing as warm at night (less blue light) and like sunlight during the day. Bringing down the amount of artificial light you are exposed to after dark can lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and normalize our circadian rhythms, helping us sleep better at night.

I use f.lux for my laptop, and Sunn for my iPhone, as Apple do not allow f.lux unless you jailbreak the phone.

f.lux is free and Sunn is $3.99.

5) Headspace

Headspace is a relatively new app for me but I love it already. Think of it as 'meditation for non-meditators'. You are guided through a series of  'brain training sessions' by the creator Andy Puddicombe (a meditation and mindfulness expert and a fellow brit - this app is worth downloading for his soothing British accent alone), in which you are asked to focus on your breath, physical sensations and noise around you, making for practice that can be adopted by anyone.

Your are also able to track your progress, find friends who are also using Headspace, and pick practices from collections to suit your mood and lifestyle.

Headspace is free for the first 10 sessions, then moves to a paid subscription starting at $7.99 if you sign up for a year.

 

I'd love to hear about the apps you use to enhance your nutrition, training and wellbeing! Please share your suggestions below so we can all reap the benefits!

Rest and Reset: The Importance of Less Stress, More Sleep

The holidays are a wonderful time, but they can often mean self care and sleep get a little neglected. With this in mind I wanted to draw attention to an old post that rings true especially at this time of the year...Isn't sleep a blessing?  Not only does sleep make you feel wonderful, it has some pretty amazing health benefits too: 

  • It helps to control weight and improves body composition (ration of body fat to lean muscle) in two ways. Sleep regulates the hormones that effect appetite, and when we don't get enough sleep our bodies produce more of the hormone ghrelin which in turn leads us to make poor food choices and consume more calories. Research studies have also shown that lack of sleep leads to less energy output, i.e. we are less likely to exercise (or even walk around the block) due to tiredness and lack of motivation.
  • It increases your ability to handle both mental and physical stress. Not only this but sleep lowers both blood pressure levels and the stress hormone cortisol.
  • It has a beneficial effect on our mood and our thinking. Not only does it make us feel happier and less worried (studies show a long term sleep deficit can lead to depression and anxiety) good sleep increases cognitive function, leading to better judgement, improved focus and less tendency to takes risks.
  • It enables cell repair throughout the body, important for both repairing muscles post workout (we are at our weakest state post workout due to the breaking down of muscle fibers, they will repair and get stronger whilst we sleep) and beautiful skin (repair at the cellular level results in less fine lines and wrinkles, and gives us a glowing, even complexion).
  • It decreases inflammation: chronic inflammation is the source of many diseases, including cancer, obesity, and heart disease. We all need some level of inflammation in the body to help heal and fight off infections, but when too much inflammation is present (this can be caused by a myriad of things, from stress to bad food choices and poor gut health) it can cause the immune system to malfunction, relating in auto immune conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and arthritis.

There are many simple ways to improve the quality of our sleep, below are five easy to implement health habits:

  • Introduce a caffeine curfew: for me this time is 3.30pm, for others it may be later or earlier, depending on your tolerance for caffeine. If you find your mind racing the minute you close your eyes start moving your caffeine curfew back by half an hour to see if it helps. One of my favorite alternatives is the caffeine free Turmeric tea from Numi Organics:

Numi Organic Turmeric Tea Amber Sun

  • Get outside in daylight: as the days become shorter we can find ourselves not seeing the daylight hours. By taking just a 10-15 minute walk outside at lunchtime you can normalize your circadian rhythm, letting your body know it is time to ‘wind down’ when the sun goes down.
  • Ensure adequate magnesium levels: due to our modern diets and extra environmental stresses the majority of us are magnesium deficient. Magnesium is needed in over 300 metabolic processes in the body, and is vital for ensuring a restful nights sleep .
  • Do not take the phone into the bedroom! Use an old fashioned alarm clock, or if you must use your phone turn the wifi off and switch to airplane mode for good measure. The electrical signals will have a negative impact on quality of sleep, even if you do not wake up. I love to use a daylight alarm clock for the most gentle, natural way to wake up:

Philips HF3500/60 Wake-Up Light

  • Consider supplements for sleep: they are many natural supplements available that can help aid sleep, my favorite is a product called RestoREM from the Poliquin Group. RestoREM contains the nutrients 5-HTP, Phenibut and melatonin and to improves serotonin levels, resulting in better sleep patterns to leave you feeling refreshed and energised when you wake up.

The Poliquin Store

Sweet dreams everyone!

The information and materials provided in this blog are to support and assist people who are looking to improve their health and wellbeing I understand that all new dietary/supplements/ exercise programs should be undertaken after consultation with a medical doctor. Jennifer Hanway is not responsible for any injury or illness sustained whilst following the information in this blog.

Meditation 101: Scheduling Meditation into Your Busy Day

I chatted with Charity Collier, a Boston based Meditation teacher who is currently enrolled in the pioneering Master's program of Mindfulness Studies at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She is also a substance abuse counselor and uses meditation as a tool in her counseling practice. She currently facilitates meditation groups three times a week in the addiction recovery community. Charity's mission is to change the stigma of meditation and make it accessible  to all who are looking to stress less and feel more happiness in their day to day lives.

Case Study: Me, female, 35, Personal Training and Holistic Health and Nutrition Consultant. Understands the importance of meditation for stress relief and all round health and well being, but struggles to find the time and motivation. Has an ‘all or nothing’ approach, I feel I should meditate for 30 mins a day twice a day every day, but of course this does not happen….

 I understand on a basic level the importance of meditation, but can you elaborate?

This question has many layers. Going back to the foundations of meditation in the Buddhist practice, meditation was a form of mindfulness. It was how a person could be enlightened from their suffering mind. Meditation has worked its way into Western culture and is becoming popularized in a secular manner. 

Meditation allows a person to view their thoughts in the present moment. Whatever those thoughts are, the goal is to not judge, or cling to the goals is just to be aware of the thoughts, or of the fact you are thinking. 

By being aware of ones thoughts you can see where our mind is going to, ‘we befriend our mind’. We begin to see what emotions and feeling arise, and in these moments better understand ourselves, realize that we can let go of thoughts, and slow down the physically reaction stress and anxiety cause. The tool of meditation can help heal the stress filled mind. Once stress is lower then the physical benefits can be reaped.

Who can benefit from meditation? 

Every single human being. As a student of the first graduate program in the US for Mindfulness Studies I am seeing my colleagues apply mindfulness meditation to children in schools, children and adolescents with mental health issues such as ADHD and Autism, CEO’s  and employees of companies and elderly people with Alzheimer's. I myself facilitate meditation with people in addiction recovery.

What are the common myths about meditation? 

There are so many. I think the most common one is that people believe they have to shut off their mind, that the mind should not be thinking. That is impossible! Meditation is about being aware that your mind is wandering and just being aware of those thoughts.

Another myth is about people sitting around saying OM - this does not happen in a secular meditation practice. There are mantra meditations that I often do, but that is to help keep me in the present moment. 

 A big myth is that to benefit from a meditation practice you have to meditate for 30 minutes or even an hour. A five minute meditation can be just as beneficial for someone as 30 minutes. Life happens and I can not always get in 30 minutes, some days it is 10 or 15. I have a practice I recommend to beginners for doing meditation while at a red light. That is only a few moments and could change your whole commute.

A common myth is people believe they need to be in an exact environment. While being on a cushion sitting upright is the ideal position, it does not have to be the only position. There are body scan meditations which are done more successfully laying down. Also someone could meditate in bed. Some days when I wake up and have time I either sit right up and meditate or continue laying there and meditate.  

How would you help someone like myself create an achievable, sustainable meditation practice? 

First I would propose a realistic goal of time. Having a goal of 30 minutes 2 times a day is hard to sustain. Then when you do not achieve it you end up feeling bad, guilty and start judging yourself (ie the ‘Suffering Mind as mentioned above). 

I would recommend looking at your schedule. On busy days having the goal of 15 minutes, on quieter days or at the weekend aim for up to 30 minutes. I believe people can benefit from any amount of time in meditation.

Finding the time in the day would be the next step. Perhaps setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you have to and getting in a meditation practice before you start your day. Remember you can still lay in bed and meditate! Have videos for meditation in the office; come back to your office 15 minutes earlier from lunch, put on your ‘Do not Disturb’, and meditate for 15 minutes. 

If you find that your day has gotten away from you and you haven't found time to meditate, as get into bed for a night time meditation. It is a great way to ensure a wonderful nights sleep, as well as to let go of the stresses from the day.  

Just like fitness, the best way to start is to not think about it, just get started! Once you do you have already tackled the hardest part. Our ego minds are fearful of us doing something good for ourselves and it will talk us out of anything. It is being aware of that ego mind (which becomes clear with a consistent meditation practice), and when the ego mind starts talking you know not to cling and follow it.

Let go of the idea of a perfect meditation practice!

Please find below a 5 minute stress relief meditation that Charity was kind enough to create especially for us!

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For more information on Charity and Meditating Together check out her daily meditation affirmations, inspirations and education posts on:

Facebook: Meditating Together

Instagram: @meditatingtogether

Twitter: https://twitter.com/meditating2ther

Periscope: @meditating2ther (Every Wednesday I do a live meditation on Periscope at 9pm EST)

Email: meditatingtogether@gmail.com

YouTube: Meditating Together

Charity will be joining me for the Wellness Talk next Tuesday to discuss how meditation can relief stress and aid a restful nights sleep. For tickets please click the link below:

https://www.movewith.com/events/rest-and-reset-with-jennifer-hanway

Contact: jenny@jenniferhanway.com