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Updated: Jun 3, 2022

I always feel SOOOOO much better when I consistently go to bed early (before midnight) and

sleep for a solid 7 to 8 hours.

Not only do I feel more alert and like I can tackle the day's events without a hitch -- I look better! Beauty sleep IS a real thing.

When I don't get enough sleep - life feels like a bit of a struggle!

Sleep is when we restore and repair our bodies and our minds.

It's even been likened to a dishwasher for the brain with research showing how we actually “detoxify” our brains as we sleep!

The synaptic plasticity that occurs during sleep improves our brain's ability to learn, process, and remember things!

It also helps us to process our emotions including traumatic experiences. Sleep facilitates our ability to "put emotional experiences into context" and produce "controlled, appropriate responses."

Sleep is a basic biological necessity. This is why sleep deprivation has been used as a method of torture. It's been described as a profound assault on the entire biological system at the foundation of that person’s mind and body." Yikes!

Besides looking and feeling better -- something as simple as sleep governs your hormone balance, metabolism, digestion/elimination, inflammatory response and is potentially protective when it comes to serious diseases.

Unfortunately falling asleep or just sleeping through the night isn't that simple for everyone.

If you are feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day - I have some great tips for you!

4 Tips for better sleep


During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.

This also means to limit your caffeine intake after 12pm. Even if you aren't a coffee drinker your evening doses of raw cacao or chocolate might be impacting your sleep pattern!

Here is a chart I got hip to in the early 00's that I really like. It shows our normal circadian rhythm and how it correlates to the sun/moon cycle.


Eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Make sure you're getting some protein and fat every time you eat. Eating carbohydrates on their own might give you an energy boost but that boost is then followed with a crash. If you tend to feel these crashes on a daily basis, look into your typical eating patterns.


It doesn't necessarily have to look like a "sanctuary" but it should feel like one. Reserve your bedroom (or at least your bed if you live in a studio apartment) for sleep and sex only. If you tend to watch TV, work, or eat in your bedroom - your brain won't as easily shift into sleep mode when it's time to hit the sheets.


The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Take your sleep as sleep as your other priorities and you'll be more likely to achieve it!

This means to begin your relaxing bedtime routine 1 hour before "lights out". This means dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time, maybe wearing blue-blocking glasses, perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or taking a long hot shower. Then turn off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE WEEK. Weekends can easily throw us off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks - your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.

So how much sleep do you need?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends:

Older Adults - 7 to 8 hours

Young Adults and Adults - 7 to 9 hours

Teenagers - 8 to 10 hours

School-Aged Children - 9 to 11 hours

Preschoolers - 10 to 13 hours

Toddlers - 11 to 14 hours

Infants - 12 to 15 hours

Newborns - 14 to 17 hours

When we are in growth phases - typically when we're young - the more sleep we need.

However, if you train hard in or outside of the gym, sleep is also very important for repair of your muscles and nervous system. So if you're an adult who fits into that category or if you're trying to learn a new skill - you want to make sure you stay in that range of 7 to 9 hours to be most effective!

Remember: Lack of sleep compromises all normal functioning of your body and mind.

Take it seriously.

Updated: Jun 3, 2022

Does a healthy lifestyle have to break the bank?

Initially it might seem like it.

There is some trial and error before streamlining your go-to practices.

One big mistake I see a lot of people making is thinking they need to suddenly a bunch of hyped up specialty items (e.g. coconut oil) to be healthy. Fortunately - overpriced and over-hyped specialty items are NOT necessary!

I noticed this happening a lot when lurking in various healthy/diet/lifestyle Facebook groups. People were spending so much money on juice bar juices and foods like coconut oil and 100% grass-fed beef that they were literally going broke! To those people specifically I'd say: "You don't HAVE to consume coconut oil or grass-fed beef specifically. You can choose other less costly fats/oils and instead of beef which is expensive, choose poultry or wild fish/seafood. Eat more vegetables and chew thoroughly."

You also will save a lot of money by avoiding convenience products that are marketed to people who are living the paleo, Whole30, vegan, or keto lifestyles!

Generally speaking:

- Convenience products marketed to the general public who aren't focused on their health tend to be full of crap.

- Convenience products marketed to people who are looking for healthy foods are overhyped and overpriced!

You may or may not know this about me but I am a penny pincher. I love finding deals and saving money. It's a challenge I REALLY enjoy.

I see finances as an important aspect of overall health. Money is energy and it offers stability. If you're constantly spending beyond your means, waiting for your next paycheck, or behind on bills - that stress WILL affect your physical health. Here are a few of my tips which you might already do yourself. If you have any others to add email me or send me a DM on Instagram! 1. BUY IN BULK WHEN POSSIBLE. This can obviously depend on your living situation. If you're in NYC like me there's a good change you don't have a stand alone freezer or additional pantry space or much extra storage in general. If you DO, however, use it. Items I buy in bulk include meats (including seafood), frozen vegetables and fruits, certain nutritional supplements, canned tuna and salmon (wild, packed in water), and other staples like quinoa and raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Other staples you can buy in bulk include nut butters or nuts, and beans. I freeze a lot and buy a lot of frozen stuff. It saves me time and money and it's actually just as healthy since nutrient content diminishes the longer fresh foods are hanging around.


The Citi Double Cash credit card is my go-to card for grocery shopping.

3. SHOP ONLINE. If you buy in bulk and don't have a car - shopping online definitely works.

Besides food and supplements I also buy feminine products and toiletries/beauty products in bulk. Organic cotton tampons are half the price of what you'd find in a store when shopping on Amazon. Same story when it comes to a lot of toiletries/beauty products. 4. SHOP PRE-OWNED.

Did you know you can buy some unworn workout gear on Poshmark and Mercari?!

As you might know I LOVE Carbon38 BUT sometimes I can find those same brands - unworn, NWT (new with tags) - on Poshmark. If you aren't already on Poshmark, join with my referral code: AMIRAKAI or use my Poshmark links above. We'll both get a little kickback. ;-)


Isn't it ridiculous how expensive something as basic as water is? I save money by purifying my own with a water distiller. Reverse osmosis filters are also great!


I will always love gyms and athletic clubs. They're basically my second home and they're a great way to meet people. But if you need to save money, you can still get effective workouts at home.

You're welcome to try any of my livestream classes or join My Hot Body Project where I house my workout video library. I also have a few workouts posted to Youtube.

If you'd like to try one of my livestream classes, send me an email ( for a free guest pass.

Updated: Jun 3, 2022

Freshman year of college I began my studies in Exercise Science and Sports Nutrition. I also started diving into the world of alternative health independently. That's where I first read Hippocrates' statement: “All disease begins in the gut.”

From that point on - I've been absolutely fascinated by gut health, the digestive system, and how the foods we digest, assimilate, and eliminate affect other aspects of our physical and even mental health.

Now as I study functional nutrition I have an even deeper understanding of this extensive connection - but no matter how much I learn, I realize that my studies will never end.

Let's get into the basics.

The quote above may not be 100% true for every disease in every person. But more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in more diseases than we used to think! This isn't just about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We're talking about all kinds of issues including but not limited to allergies, joint pain, skin problems, autoimmune conditions, mood disorders, migraine headaches, and nutrient deficiencies.

Why is gut health so important to our overall wellness?

Our gut is the portal to the outside world. This is where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. This is also where we take in nutrients (and toxins). The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks for every single part of our body. The foods and other substances we ingest can also play a major role in inflammation. As a personal example - I get plantar fasciitis simply from eating certain foods that are inflammatory to me as an individual.

What causes inflammation in one person does not necessarily cause the same inflammatory response in another person.

We're just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body - even our brain! In fact our gut has even been called the "second brain" because of how it influences mood. It's not just our gut per se. It's the friendly resident microbes that we're learning have incredibly important roles.

So, let's talk about a few of the roles that we know of so far and then I'll follow up with some tips and 19 recipes to improve gut health!


Our gut’s main function is to act as a barrier via its gut mucosal barrier. It's supposed to let things in that should come in and to keep things out that should stay out.

But what happens when this seemingly simple function - isn't functioning correctly?

For one thing, when your gut wall gets irritated there is an inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation leads to gut permeability or "leaky gut." A "leaky gut", like a long tube with holes in it, can allow things (antigens, pathogens, immune complexes, bacteria, undigested food, and toxins) to get into our bloodstream that can wreak havoc on our many systems.

A dysfunctional leaky gut is a starting point for many diseases that don't seem connected to the gut because it's an indirect connection.

Maintaining a functional gut mucosal barrier is one pillar for overall gut health!

A healthy gut is critical for both digestion and gut immunity.

FUN FACT: About 70-80% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.

Chronic infection, infestations, and chronic exposure to inflammatory agents compromise our immune system and can eventually even shut it down.

The second pillar of gut health is having a healthy balance of friendly health-promoting microbes.

Gut microbes:

  • help us to digest and absorb nutrients,

  • fight off disease-causing microbes,

  • make some vitamins for us, and

  • have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.


There are a lot of simple lifestyle practices you can implement now to improve gut health.

1. One thing you can do is start a food journal to track your meals and how you felt physically and maybe even mentally about 30 minutes afterwards. Do you notice any trends?

Pay attention to what foods make you bloated or anything else that's uncomfortable. Take a break from those foods for a few weeks and before reintroducing them.