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Month: October 2018



First Annual NeuroCoaching Conference

Posted in: October 29, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson
Cognitive Performance

I had the honor and privilege of organizing the First Annual NeuroCoaching Conference in California.

It was a weekend full of sharing and exploring the new methods of NeuroCoaching. Attendees were able to gain wisdom and the ability to learn about business collaboration with the group. As coaches, I believe it is most important to first learn how to coach ourselves. I recently talked about this on-air at KUCI.org with Mari Frank on her show Fighting for Love, Monday, October 29, 2018.

 Listen to Interview

I worked alongside Mark Robert Waldman, a top-selling author, to plan this two-day retreat-type seminar. The purpose was so NeuroCoaches could practice together, learn better techniques, and connect with their peers. Mark is a friend of mine and colleague who recently released his book, NeuroWisdom: The New Brain Science of Money, Happiness, and Success, alongside Chris Manning, Ph.D. Both Mark and Chris were able to attend the conference in addition to forty people from around the world. The conference was sold out and included learning experiences for NeuroCoaches of all levels.

Reach of Conference

Attendees came from many nations throughout the globe. While the conference was held in Malibu, California, eight different countries were represented. With attendees from Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Mexico, we were so proud to see the reach that NeuroCoaching is making all over the world. The conference was held to bring together certified NeuroCoaches, those in training, and those interested in becoming a certified NeuroCoach. Since this is a relatively new field of coaching, it is more important than ever to connect with peers.

Mindfulness and Introspective Work

We focused on the importance of skills within NeuroCoaching and practiced introspective coaching strategies. We helped each coach learn more about themselves and how they could be more coachable through scenarios in their own personal lives. Learning how to coach yourself before you coach others, as mentioned earlier, is essential to understanding the importance of NeuroCoaching. The focus on mindfulness throughout the weekend allowed attendees to tap into their own authenticity. The techniques learned could be used in personal life with attendees’ family, friends, and partners, as well as in their professional life. We were happy to equip attendees with this education and experience to confidently send them out into their own lives and careers.

Importance of Research

Throughout the two days, attendees were able to learn from one another and from the experts. I led a session on Business Coaching and was able to work one-on-one with some attendees present to share what I have learned in my career as a NeuroCoach. It is important that I am continuously staying up to date with the newest science-based NeuroCoaching techniques to powerfully guide my clients. In such a new field, I feel that it is especially essential that I do this.  I enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experience with coaches on all levels and from all different backgrounds. I truly believe this is the way of the future, and it is exciting to see the community of NeuroCoaches continue to grow around the world. It is an exciting movement to be a part of!

Strategies Covered

During the conference, attendees engaged in new educational and coaching skills that are grounded in brain-based, evidence-based, and mindfulness-based communication strategies. We covered strategies such as using your intuition, exploring ways to solve problems quickly, and improving physical pain. The conference also consisted of an insight meditation called “Streaming,” which allowed attendees to fall into deeper layers of self-discovery. The panel discussions held throughout the weekend allowed those who were in the process of becoming certified or who were considering it to be fully immersed in what the field consists of. It was a rewarding weekend for the organizers and attendees, and I look forward to doing it again next year!

If you found my page because of the conference, welcome! I’m so glad to have you here. Please be sure to sign up for my newsletter list here, as well as “like” me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter and on Instagram to stay in the know about what is going on in the wonderful world of NeuroCoaching!

If you missed the conference this year, stay tuned as next year’s conference is in the works. Next year, our conference is open to anyone that is interested in NeuroCoaching. We’re excited to spread the reach of this field even farther across the country and world.

Eat for Brain Health!

Posted in: October 22, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

Learn tips to eat well for peak Cognitive Performance and overall well-being

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know how important eating well and nourishing your body is for your Cognitive Performance and overall well-being. To support you to be the best throughout the day, here are some of my favorite personal recommendations for a healthy diet and a healthy life.

Hydrate for Health!

Drink up….but focus on the good stuff! Water should be plentiful, with a gallon a day being the minimum amount a full-grown adult should be drinking. Of course, there are many factors that come into play such as body weight, energy output, health, etc. Keep yourself hydrated and avoid the dehydration blues (it’s true…when you’re dehydrated, it can make you grumpy) Water is key to superior cognitive performance. 

To Drink or Not to Drink Alcohol

When it comes to other kinds of drinks, take alcohol, for example, it’s best to drink in moderation. I believe it’s best to minimize or avoid alcohol and sugary drinks altogether if you are striving for peak performance, emotional well-being, and high mental agility. Besides making you feel bad the next day, alcohol can cause you to gain weight in the belly due to its Acetaldehyde metabolizing into acetate and then converting into fatty acids. However, many individuals make up the 56% (source: National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) who have consumed alcohol in the last month. If you are looking for a “drink” that is best for you, try red wine. In studies dated back to 2010, it has been reported that red wine has more antioxidants than other alcoholic drinks. You may be confronted with social situations that entice you to drink alcohol which can be challenging, but for those with the desire to do so, it is not impossible to change your drinking habits. [Brainfit Tip:] Try ordering sparkling water in a wine glass – a pleasurable brain fit experience without the side effects!

Importance of Vitamins and Minerals

Be sure that you’re giving your body a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential to a healthy life. The easiest way to get all your vitamins is through a multivitamin that is taken daily. I recommend thiamine, folate, other water-soluble B vitamins, and vitamin C as the key supplements to your diet. You should also make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D to help with your cognitive performance and energy levels, especially if you live in a place where some seasons keep the sun away.

Calcium is important to keep your bones healthy, so make sure that you are getting calcium in whichever way you like best – dairy, almonds, kale, navy beans, and cheese are all good sources. However, remember the most important factor for ensuring that the dietary calcium becomes made into bone, is that you exercise. The exercise does not need to be intense, walking every day will help ensure you are encouraging the calcium to go to your bones.  

There are many multivitamins on the market and selecting a brand can be overwhelming. A rule of thumb is to make sure that they do contain the above mentioned Thiamine, folate, other B vitamins and vitamin C.  Also, be sure the vitamins don’t contain any added preservatives or unnecessary ingredients.  If you are seeking vitamin optimization,  ask your Doctor about a full panel blood test. This type of test can determine where you may be lacking in vitamins and minerals.

Eating WHOLE Foods

Eating food in its natural form is the best way to ensure that what you’re eating feeds your body in the best way possible. Some age-old truths remain the same – Fruits and vegetables are necessary to any diet. Vegetables should make up a large portion of your meals, and leafy greens are great to fill you up and provides you with the essential fiber to aid in digestion. When selecting fruits, avoid processed versions, and anything with added sugar or syrup. The fresh fruits and vegetables you purchase should be pesticide free. If it not possible to buy organic, invest in a fruit and vegetable wash that easily removes pesticides, waxes, and chemicals.

You can complement both of these with some whole grains. Try to avoid excess salt in your foods and stick with fresh and unprocessed foods as much as you can. When it comes to carbohydrates, stick to complex and natural whole grains. These come naturally with fruits and vegetables, too, which is great! Avoid sugary bread desserts like cookies, pies, and donuts if you’re looking to lose weight and take away some brain fog that comes with a sugar crash.

Protein as Building Blocks

Protein should be your primary source of calories. When it comes to types of protein, I recommend fish, lean meats, and nuts. Wild caught fish is a superior source of protein. With over 1,000 centenarians, Okinawa has earned a reputation as a “land of the immortals.”  Their diet, which is rich in fresh fish, is one of the key reasons claimed for their life longevity. I would also recommend avoiding farm-raised salmon and shrimp. Farm-raised shrimp and fish can contain toxins that are bad for your body. Chicken is another great option if you are eating meat. If not, adding in nuts, whole grains, beans, and legumes are perfect ways to get protein in your diet.

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

It’s important to not give fats bad of a name. Essential for brain and body fitness, fats are necessary and keep you satiated when they are “good” fats. A simple way to include “good” fats in your diet is to add in some olive oil to your cooking. Be sure to bring more Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet via salmon and other fish. Avocados and almonds make great snacks and/or additions to your meals. Don’t shy away from adding good fats to your diet! To learn more download my book “Become Extraordinary!” here

My Challenge To You

Try to brainstorm some healthy meal and snack ideas that contain whole foods, good protein, and healthy fats. Having a list on hand of healthy foods can help if you’re in a time crunch or if you are eating out and looking for good ideas. Invest in a water bottle that you can carry with you everywhere you go to ensure that you’re sipping away throughout the day.  [Brainfit tip:] Try replacing one “poor” food choice with a “healthy” selection for 10 days. Notice any changes and write down your observations.

In health,

Bernadette

The Importance of a Healthy Nutritional Intake

Posted in: October 15, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

The Importance of a Healthy Nutritional Intake for Brain Health

Taking care of your mind and body isn’t always easy. However, it is necessary to maximize our cognitive performance.  And, it is essential that we pay attention to what we put into our body. Today, I want to focus on the importance of a healthy nutritional intake for your brain health and physical well-being. Feed your body in a way that helps it rather than harming it. Not all foods are created equal!

If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up for my e-mail list here so that you can get a free download of my full e-book, Become Extraordinary.

How to Select Food

To start, I want to go over a basic helpful tip to remind you what to look for when selecting your food. Whether you buy your food on Amazon, through a grocery shopping app, or while walking down the grocery store aisle, keep these tips in mind. If you must buy packaged food, you should always look into the ingredients. There are a million different products out there packaged to appear healthy that claim to be “good” for you. So, how do you know what isn’t good for you?

It’s All in the Labels

It’s all in the labels. The label on the back of the package should be read to find out what is inside. The ingredients list goes from top to bottom. For example, juice would have water as it’s the first ingredient because it is predominantly made of water. If the first ingredient is sugar or another questionable ingredient, that’s most likely a choice you should skip. Try to pick those foods lowest in “sugar grams” per serving and with low oil content.  A few years ago, in 2015, Dr. Esselstyn from UC Davis noted that “monounsaturated and saturated fats contained in oils are harmful to the endothelium, the innermost lining of the artery, and that injury is the gateway to vascular disease. It doesn’t matter whether it’s olive oil, corn oil, coconut oil, canola oil, or any other kind. Avoid ALL oil.”

Look for the ”No GMO” and organic labels on your foods! Make sure that your food is coming from a reliable source if its food that is grown or farmed, such as vegetables, meats, and fruits. You should be able to trust that food that is labeled to be free from pesticides, hormones, and preservatives really are. It’s also a good idea to stay away from processed food. You’ll mostly find these in the middle aisles of the grocery store.

Speaking of Grocery Store Aisles…

Think about it. Usually, the produce, meats, and other fresh foods are along the outer rim of the store. The inside aisles are usually the more processed foods, such as chips, candies, and cookies. Of course, moderation is key. I never want someone to deprive himself or herself of something, because that can just make it more tempting to partake in. Think of the 80/20 rule in eating healthy and fresh, and aim to eat whole foods as the majority of your diet.

How Often to Eat

This question can’t be answered through a broad blog post and will depend heavily on the individual person. I’ve read and researched this topic and still have not been able to find a conclusive or blanket answer for the entire population. The debate, I find, is often between eating many small meals throughout the day versus eating three large meals. Research has implied that going about eating smaller, more frequent meals can increase metabolism and keep insulin levels better, amongst other positives. However, other research has shown that making this switch in meal amounts doesn’t actually boost fat loss as much as some would think. I personally believe, through research, that the smaller meals are the more optimal choice because it can also help with indigestion after meals.

Calories In Versus Calories Out

What it all boils down to is calories taken in versus calories put out. Adding in more exercise and keeping your body moving increases the number of calories put out, which in turn can lead to feeling better. If you’re not able to engage in physical activity, for whatever reason, you’ll need to learn how to lessen your calorie intake so that it can balance out more. I’d recommend smaller servings and being in tune with your body when it tells you that it is full. It’s also important to make sure that your meals are balanced and contain a variety of whole foods and not a lot of processed food. Another important thing to remember is that not all calories are created equal. Different molecules go through biochemical metabolism on different pathways. As an example, carbohydrates (often called “carbs”) are converted into fat if consumed in excess. They’re not all equal, and they don’t all affect your body in the same way.

Next week, I’ll dive into more detailed recommendations for your best health and nutritional intake. This week, focus on eating as many whole foods as possible. Focus on feeding your body the “good stuff.”

Take care of your body so it can take care of you.

Bernadette

Importance of Aerobic Exercise

Posted in: October 8, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

The Importance of Aerobic Exercise

When it comes to increasing our cognitive performance, there are many things we can do. The past few weeks, I’ve shared with you the importance of sleep. This week, I want to focus on the importance of Aerobic Exercise. 

Want the full e-book? I’d love to have you sign up with your email on my website so that you can download the complete e-book for free. Once you do, you can follow along each week as we further break down each section. You can sign up HERE

Aerobic exercise allows you to improve memory, brain processing, and creativity.

While exercise may not be at the top of everyone’s list, it’s an important activity that benefits you in many more ways than just physical.

Improved Memory

Aerobic exercise is the kind of exercise that leads to your heart pumping and sweat dripping. This is the kind of exercise that gets you moving, challenges you, and helps you work away any stress you’re carrying with you. While this exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight and improving your physique if that’s your desire, often times we aren’t aware of how beneficial it is for our brain, too. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to be able to increase the size of the hippocampus, which is what’s involved in verbal memory and learning. In people who exercise regularly, it has also been shown that their prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex has a higher volume. These areas play a large role in thinking and memory. From this, we can see how regular aerobic exercise can help improve memory and thus increase our cognitive performance.

Improved Processing Speed

A recent study found that exercise was in fact linked to more proactive brain activation signals, meaning it increased the processing speed and led to both lower stress and a higher IQ. Sounds like a win-win to me! I want to share with my clients and readers that exercise truly can benefit you in so many ways. It has the ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors. Growth factors are chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Keeping your brain healthy can give you better ability to process thoughts, think creatively, and continue to successfully create new brain cells regularly.

Improved Mood and Sleep

In the past three blog posts, I dove deep into the importance of sleep. Let’s not forget what a great sweat-session can do to improve your quality of sleep. Moving your body through aerobic exercise can help boost your mood and reduce any stress and anxiety you may have going on at the time. Exercising your body can help your brain and body to relax, thus leading to better quality of sleep. Try keeping track of your quality of sleep on days you exercise and on days you don’t, and see if it makes any improvements!

Ideas for Aerobic Exercise

My encouragement to you would be to find something that you enjoy doing. Finding exercises that you actually want to do will help you be more likely to do it on a regular basis. If you like biking, cycling can be a great way to get out and get some fresh air. Are you a runner? You can jog or run alone, with friends, with your significant other, or with your dog. If you’re looking for a community to work out with, joining a gym or fitness boutique will allow you to work out in a class format with others around you. Who knows, you may even meet new friends! If you know that you will need more accountability, and your budget allows, look into hiring a personal trainer to get exactly what you need out of the time you have to workout. Trainers can customize workouts to help you achieve your personal goals and will lead you along the way.

How Often to Exercise

Making time for exercise doesn’t have to be impossible. Every little bit counts, and it’s easy to start with baby steps and grow from there. Some people may exercise every day, and some once a week. It’s important to start where you are and build up from there. Start with 30 minutes a day, and then grow from there. This can be 30 minutes spent on a brisk walk with the dog, an hour of exercise class, or an hour on the bike. Getting at least 30 minutes a day in can help you keep your brain fresh and moving, and thus get those creative juices flowing!

My Challenge to You

This week, I challenge you to set aside 30 minutes per day (at least) to get moving. Write down what you did, how you felt during it, and how you felt after. Keep track of hunger, brain fog, and sleep quality. Sure enough, I bet you’ll find with regular aerobic exercise you’ll begin to beat the brain fog, improve your quality of life, and achieve the cognitive performance you’re working for!

Bernadette

Initiating Sleep Amidst Intrusive Thoughts and Anxieties

Posted in: October 1, 2018 By: Bernadette Marie Wilson

As we all know, a day spent recovering from a bad night of sleep is a day spent yawning and in a fog. In the last two weeks, I’ve covered the topic of sleep in depth. If you haven’t yet, you can find my blog on the importance of sleep here, and my blog on my twelve rituals for getting a good night sleep here! Life can come at you fast, and I’ve had my fair share of nights laying awake trying to sleep. There are also days where your body wants nothing but sleep but your mind craves the opposite. Looming, intrusive thoughts and anxieties can fill our head and take away from the relaxing and peaceful zone that a good night of sleep allows us to enter into.

I find my clients often feel robbed of a restful night because of intrusive thoughts and anxieties that they have on their mind. While this is something we can work through one-on-one through my coaching, I’ve put together a list of some of my tried and true tips for initiating sleep when anxiety and intrusive thoughts are keeping you awake. I hope that this list of tips can help lessen the amount of nights you lay awake. With a restful night of sleep, you will be closer to achieving the Cognitive Performance that we are always working towards.

Tip One: Making a List

This might sound counterintuitive at first, but try it out. Keep a journal by your bed for these intrusive thoughts that are keeping you from sleep. Writing them down will get them out of your head and onto paper. By listing them out, your mind can relax knowing that you will address them the next day when you are refreshed and rested. I find this helps especially if your thoughts are things that you’re afraid you’ll forget to take care of. Having this list will bring those thoughts out of your head so that you can get to dreaming instead.

Tip Two: Taking a Bath or Shower

I covered this under my rituals in my previous blog post, but I’ve found it helpful to get up and take a warm bath or shower. This can help “reset” your mind to night mode, especially when it becomes part of a ritual. You can also take this opportunity to utilize aromatherapy during your bath or shower to relax even more. While this isn’t part of easing intrusive thoughts, crawling into bed cozy and clean can help you feel refreshed and ready to dive in to your night of rest.

Tip Three: Create a Gratitude List

Try and focus your mind on the positives that are surrounding you. Write down a list of 3-4 things that you are grateful for in that moment. Is it the warm, soft sheets around you? What about your partner laying next to you? Maybe it’s the yoga you were able to do earlier. Whatever it is, take time to reflect on these items that bring about joy and a feeling of being grateful, especially in the midst of anxieties.

Tip Four: Review your Affirmation List.

Not sure what this list is? That’s okay! In my previous e-book, I discussed the power of creating an affirmation list for times of uncertainty. You can find that book here (will link).

Tip Five: Mindful Meditation

Try practicing mindful meditation. This means saying phrases such as, “I release this day with love and gratitude.” Say this statement 5-10 times slowly. Be sure to breathe in and out deeply each time. Allowing your mind to release whatever worries or thoughts are on your mind can help you become present in the moment and set your sights and thoughts on the relaxation and rest ahead.

Tip Six: Create an Environment Conducive to Sleep

As you’ll read in last week’s list of rituals, your environment for sleep should be dark and pleasant. Consider getting a noise machine to lull you to sleep to the sound of the ocean waves if you’re surrounded by excess sounds outside like cars or your neighbors. Maybe take a look into relaxing scents like lavender or chamomile to help you relax even further. A good night sleep is something worth the investment and worth making changes for.

Tip Seven: Come up with a Plan B

When you’ve tried all of these steps, or any others you use, but they’re just not working, it’s time for plan B. Plan B should come into play when you’ve exhausted all efforts and it’s time to get out of bed and try something else to refocus your mind. I recommend a positive, light book. Try to avoid electronics during this time.

Tip Eight: Come up with a Plan C

When both plan A and B have failed, initiate plan C. This time, lay back and try counting backwards in your mind. Start somewhere high, like 150, and if you make an error in your counting, start from the beginning. This helps give you something to truly focus your mind on. Your mind will not be able to effectively focus on both these thoughts as well as the intrusive ones causing the trouble.

Tip Nine: Try to Avoid Sleep Medication

As helpful as they can be at times, they are often temporary fixes. The use of drugs to help you sleep, such as benzodiazepines and even alcohol and marijuana, is not recommended. For the odd times where you have trouble with sleep due to exterior things, such as jet lag, try melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone that does not necessarily work well for general insomnia, but rather to reset the body’s internal clock to tell it it’s time for bed. This should be taken an hour before bedtime if it is necessary, as if it’s taken any closer to bedtime, it can cause grogginess upon wake-up.

Tip Ten: Yawning is Not Your Friend

When you’re trying to fall asleep, stay away from yawning! I find that often times it is actually more harmful than good. Recent research shows that yawning is a specific mechanism that is used by your brain to actually keep you ALERT when you are drowsy. In fact, this is the opposite of what we want to do. Yawning is actually used by many NeuroCoaches as a tool to help clients enter a calm state of mindfulness. I share more about the timing of yawning on this chapter in my e-book. I recommend Mindful deep breathing instead.

My Challenge To You

As always, it’s my goal to help readers and clients achieve top cognitive performance. My challenge for you this week is to really try out a few of these tips. I would recommend starting with the listing of your thoughts and seeing what is truly keeping you awake at night. This can help you realize the things that you’re thinking about. If you are a client of mine, we can work through these lists to help get your mind focused on sleep at night and less on the things keeping you awake.

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