Healthy Living with Jilisa Ghareeb: Upgrade Your Brain Power

Where did I put my keys?  What did I come in here for?  Who was I going to call?

Sound familiar? If you are anything like me then it is all too familiar.  Our brains are complex organs and are capable of so much.  So why then is it we cannot remember where we put the dang car keys?  If I had the answer to that question, I would not hide it from you.   What I do know is and what I think is a big part of it, we neglect our brains.  We do not properly nourish one of the largest (in the top 10) organs in our bodies.  In fact, most of us do more harm than good.  Let’s take a look at what that means.

I cannot put any order of importance on the items I am going to talk about because they are all important.  Two things that I will mention (and not dwell on) that we all know have serious consequences on our whole bodies are smoking and excessive drinking.  We all know how damaging those are to our bodies and that we should do everything we can to cut down and cut them out from our lives.  These next items you may not think are as bad as smoking and drinking but I am going to tell you that they are.

The first I want to talk about is sleep.  Your big, beautiful brain never stops working and is quite active while you are sleeping.  Your neurons need you to get some shut eye so they can talk about you and work to help you!  Our lack of sleep…of good quality sleep starts a chain reaction in our bodies that begins with stress hormones.  This reaction is a loop that does not stop until we start getting enough sleep on a consistent basis.   Unfortunately sleeping longer on the weekend to catch up, often is not adequate because you just simply start the process of deprivation over again on Monday.  Turn off the phone and computer a couple of hours before bed (easier said than done, I know!) and start the process of shutting down your mind.  Crawl into bed 7-8 hours before you need to get up and start healing.

Ok brace yourself the next thing I am going to say is something you have never heard me say before…too much sugar is not good for you. Oh man, I have said that before! I’m sorry I just cannot stop myself. I must repeat that as many times as I can because it is true! Excess amounts of sugar will impair our cognitive skills. What does that mean? It means exactly how you read it. Your cognitive skills or functions are how you operate every day from problem solving to simply scrolling social media. And too much sugar can literally impair those things. Another thing that excess amounts of sugar can do is reduce the production of a chemical in the brain known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This chemical is responsible for making new memories. Why would you not want to remember an epic vacation or a new way to solve a problem because you ate and drank too much sugary food. Do not let your mind go to waste. I get it! Easier said than done, but is it really that hard to give up sugar? Well yes actually it is because excess sugar also triggers big surges of dopamine and your brain becomes addicted to that feeling. If you are consuming a lot start by swapping out a few items for a healthier version. I can help with that if you need it.

The last point I want to mention is hydration. Yes, there is water in pop and Gatorade and even beer but there is sugar too. Only drinking beverages that are laced with sugar will not keep you PROPERLY hydrated. Water does a few things for your brain; it increases the temperature and helps rid of toxins and dead cells. It also balances the chemicals and regulates stress and anxiety.

Your brain also likes when you eat healthy fats like avocados, nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews), whole eggs, coconut (oil, butter, milk), olive oil, flaxseeds, olives, nut butters, MCT oil, sunflower seeds, and salmon to name a few. Incorporating these into a healthy diet will literally boost your brain power. I have very recently started taking MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides) and am so excited for the results. I want to be able to find my car keys when it is time to leave or remember why I walked into a room. I want my superpower to be my memory! Check out the recipe below for a super tasty way to start boosting your brain power!

Nut Butter Cups (good for your brain)

½ cup Coconut Oil
1 tbsp MCT oil (optional)
1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use Beachbody Shakeology or Recover)
¼ cup nut or seed butter of your choice
Sprinkle of Sea salt (optional)

Melt coconut oil in microwave (if the solid kind)
Add in MCT oil and protein powder, mix well
Line muffin tin with liners
Pour enough of the chocolate mix into the liner to fill the bottom
Place in freezer until firm (about 5 mins)
Top with nut or seed butter
Pour remaining chocolate on top to cover
Place back in freezer until firm

If you used a regular size muffin tin, enjoy 2 of these a day. If you used a mini muffin tin, enjoy 4 of these a day.

Move of the month…Squat Jack

Start in a standing position with your arms bent and palms toward your chest. Jump or step your legs open wider than hip width and in the same movement squat down with your knees and touch one hand to the ground with the other going behind you. Jump back up to standing with feet together and squeeze your hips/butt. Jump or step your legs open wider than hip width and this time squat down with your other hand touching the ground. Repeat the move for as many reps as you can do. Please remember in your squat to keep the hips /butt back behind your knees and to not round your back and to hold your core. Full out or modified you will feel this move working your hips, butt, and quads.

Try this move, going to bed earlier and cutting out sugar for the next month and let me know it had helped you.  And do not forget about the nut butter cups for a delicious treat.  You can find me on Instagram and Facebook for more tips on Tuesdays and Thursdays and feel free to reach out any time with any questions.

Jilisa Ghareeb has been a Beachbody coach for 6 years.  Her favorite part of being involved with fitness and nutrition is watching her clients change and open up a whole new world.  As a coach, she is able to help others by introducing them to a change that is often scary, intimidating, and full of “what ifs” to an encouraging and inspirational lifestyle full of “I cans”. She uses her own story to show others that everything is possible with hard work and determination.  If you’re interested in reaching out to Jilisa for more information you can contact her via email, on Instagram or Facebook.

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