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.

Filtering by Tag: stress relief

Healthy Sleep: Light Exposure, the Sleep/Wake Cycle and Cute Glasses!

This post is written in partnership with Swanwick Sleep, however all opinions are my own. I only work with and recommend companies whose products I love, and I’m so excited to share these with you!

Tim and I have been wearing blue blocking glasses for years, ever since I introduced him to them when we started living together. But five years ago, the choices were incredibly limited, and quite frankly, incredibly ugly. Now my husband could make a trash bag look good, but it was hard to see the dreamboat behind the bright orange, cheap plastic ‘Neo from The Matrix’ blue blocking glasses. And mine were no better, as I had chosen oversized tortoise shell frames, which made me look like a biohacking reject from the seventies…

But, blocking my blue light exposure after sunset is a huge part of my stress/sleep routine, and means I can continue working into the evening on my laptop or other devices should I need to. And I find that if I have an event on until late in the evening (late meaning 8pm to me as I am a Lion Chronotype), popping on my blue blocking glasses helps me wind down before sleep.

I was so happy when Swanwick Sleep reached out to me - finally I had found a pair of blue blocking glasses that were not only effective, but looked super cute as well! I currently have their Night Swannies, and plan on getting a pair of their prescription Day Swannies too, for my days in the office when I am researching and writing (and want to look good at the same time).

How Blue Light Exposure Affects Your Sleep/Wake Cycle

Light is one of the key zeitgebers, or regulators of our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm dictates everything from our energy levels to when we are hungry, mentally alert, crave social interaction, and of course our sleep/wake cycle.

When photoreceptors in the eye detect blue light, they send a message to the pineal gland via the suprachiasmatic nucleus (a tiny area of the brain) to suppress the release of melatonin, a hormone that induces the onset of sleep. Whilst this is exactly what we want during the day when we need to be alert and awake (and why I suggest getting as much light exposure as possible early in the day), blue light exposure after sunset disrupts our circadian rhythms, preventing melatonin secretion and the cascade of physiological effects that help us wind down and relax, preparing us for restful and restorative sleep.

Ideally, we would live like our paleolithic ancestors and end our working day at sunset, relying only on the orange hue of firelight until bedtime. But unfortunately, we are all busier and have more responsibilities than every more, and as such many of us are working from home in the evenings. And if we are not working we are watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling through social media, all the while exposing ourselves to blue light and causing dis-regulation of our sleep/wake cycles.  

21.jpg


Now, I like to meet my clients where they are at, and give them workable solutions to our everyday health challenges. Whilst I would love for them to shut off all their electric lights and play board games by candlelight in the evenings, I know that this is never going to be the reality! Here are some simple ways you can regulate your circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycle throughout the day:

  1. Exposure yourself to as much daylight during the day as possible: use a daylight alarm clock, draw the curtains the minute you wake up, workout outside, try and sit near to a window whilst working, and go for a walk at lunchtime or mid-afternoon.

  2. Use a pair of Day Swannies (they have Custom Rx versions too) for long stints at your computer or smartphone.

  3. Switch overhead bright lights to softer side lighting and lamps after sunset

  4. Use the ‘Night Mode’ settings on your smart phone, and programs such as F.lux on your devices to minimise the amount to blue light your electronics emit.

  5. Pop on your Night Swannies should you have to work or look at screens past sunset, or if you find it hard to wind down in the evenings

  6. Ensure there is no light at all in your bedroom at night - try blackout blinds or curtains, eliminate any LED’s, and use an eye mask too if your partner comes to bed at a different time than you!


To get your hands on a pair of Swannies (they are unisex, and come in Day, Night and Custom Rx options) simply click on the link below:

www.swanwicksleep.com









Adaptogens Part 2: Relax and Chill with Reishi

In Part 1 of this post about adaptogens (one of my favorite categories of superfoods), we looked at the definition of adaptogens, their benefits and how to use them in your daily wellness practice. I also featured an energizing Maca and Cacao Smoothie recipe, perfect for busy mornings. 

Due to the amazing nature of how adaptogens react to what your body needs, they are also awesome for helping you relax and destress at any time of day. I love to turn to some of the more calming adaptogens such as reishi and ashwaganda when I'm feeling stressed out or a little too 'switched on'. These adaptogens will gently lower cortisol levels without drowsiness or making you feel sleepy, meaning they are perfect for any time of the day. An added benefit of adaptogens is that they help strengthen your immune system, which can suffer at times of stress and tiredness. 

I'm having the following Reishi Latte on a daily basis, either post workout, following a busy day or whilst reading in bed. It can be served hot or iced, and Husband Hanway is a big fan too! 

Relaxing Reishi Latte

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Serve over ice or warm gently in a pan. 

If you missed Part 1 of my post about Adaptogens you can find it here! 

Four Sigmatic Reishi Latte .jpg

 

 

 

Adaptogens Part 1: Adaptawhat?

I’ve been a big fan of adaptogens ever since I was dealing with some cortisol imbalances and adrenal fatigue, and use them on a regular basis for both boosting my energy and  for relaxation and managing stress. Whilst that may sound like a contradiction the beauty of adaptogens is that they can do both - they adapt to what the body needs, hence the name! 

What is an Adaptogen?

An adaptogen is a compound from a herb or fungus that can both protect the body against the damaging effects of stress, whilst strengthening and boosting the body after prolonged periods of stress. 

The difference between adaptogens and stimulants such as caffeine is that stimulants provide a short term energy boost (you can almost think of it as 'false' energy), whereas adaptogens strengthen the bodies energy production systems whilst simultaneously helping the body manage stress, helping your body produce 'real' energy. 

Stimulants can often have negative side effects on the body too (such as extraneously raising cortisol levels), whereas because adaptogens give the body what it needs they have no side effects. 

Adaptogens have been used in Eastern medicine for centuries, and came into use in Western society in 1947 when the Soviet Union started using them on their soldiers to help strengthen and protect them! 

Some of the more common adaptogens you may have heard of are: 

  • Rhodiola

  • Holy Basil

  • Ashwagandha

  • Cordyceps

  • Schisandra

  • Ginseng

  • Reishi

  • Shiitake

  • Ginseng

  • Maca

As well as having an amazing balancing effect on the body, regularly including adaptogens in your diet can improve your immune system, blood sugar levels, and mood and cognitive function! 

So what are you waiting for?? Adaptogens can be amazing for your health without any downsides, and it is so easy to add them into your everyday diet and wellness routine. 

 Here is one of my favorite smoothie recipes featuring my favorite energizing adaptogen, Maca Root, that I first discovered in its raw form when hiking the Inca Trail in Peru - its really packs a punch! 

Maca and Cacao Smoothie

 

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.

Stop, Drop and Meditate: Post Workout Meditation

Every Friday I am going to be helping you to 'Stop, Drop and Meditate' with the help of Meditation Expert (and wonderful friend) Charity Collier. This week's guided meditation is perfect for when you have just finished your workout. Training can cause a raise in cortisol (the stress hormone) which is great for giving you that push when you are sprinting on the treadmill, hitting that punchbag, or PR'ing your Deadlift, but for both our health and our body composition we want to bring cortisol levels down as quickly as possible once we have finished our session.

So what are you waiting for, lets 'Stop, Drop and Meditate' with Charity!

[embed]http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFmDVUb2JG4[/embed]

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

Email: meditatingtogether@gmail.com

YouTube: Meditating Together

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

 

 

Contact: jenny@jenniferhanway.com