Archive

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Fueling Your Body

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Many people come to me confused about how much they should be eating.

"How much fat is too much fat? And will it make me fat?"

"Do I need to eat more protein? What's the best form?"

"Should I be afraid of carbs?"

"What the heck is a macro???"

Let's start off with the easy question- What are macros?

Macronutrients, often referred to as macros, are what make up the caloric content of our food. They are categorized into fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, each of which have specific roles in our bodies.  We need them all to perform optimally, but in the right amounts and in the right forms.

We are ever changing beings so our macro needs will change as well depending on how much you are moving, your current hormone situation, stress levels, digestive power, how much you’ve slept, gut health…and so many more variants.

This is why I stress balancing your body out by removing some of those foods that trigger cravings, making sure you don’t have an overgrowth of yeast or parasites (those buggers are going to call out for sugar all day long) and being mindful when eating. Once you have these covered, you can tune in to the true needs of your body, eat intuitively and ensure you are getting the macro ratios YOUR body truly needs.


NUTRITION OVER CALORIES

It’s important to recognize that your body does not crave just calories, it craves NUTRITION, so focusing solely on calorie counting is not going to get you very far in your health journey. 

Foods that are processed, low-fat, and poor quality don’t nourish your body, leading to imbalances, cravings, and fat gain. Think about it. How will your body react to 500 calories worth of Mickey D’s french fries versus 500 calories worth of wild salmon or leafy greens? Your goal should always be to focus on foods in their most nutrient dense form- whole, organic, and locally grown when possible.


BALANCING MACROS

We are each unique due to our genetic makeup, individual diet and lifestyle choices, and the stress load we carry.  This means everyone responds differently to macronutrient ratios and specific foods, so what works for one person may not work for another.

I recommend starting with a 40-30-30 ratio for calorie intake (40% carbs from mostly non-starchy vegetables, 30% protein, 30% fat) and then making adjustments based on how you are feeling.

Are you crashing throughout the day? Try increasing your fats and proteins, especially at breakfast.

Struggling through your workout? Try adding in some starchy veggies post-workout to replenish your glycogen storage.

Are you constantly craving sugar? Try cutting back your carbs (starchy veggies, grains and legumes) and upping your fats at every meal.

Are you moody and hangry? Adding more protein and fat and removing some of the non-veggie carbs will help.


MYTH: GRAZING BOOSTS YOUR METABOLISM

Aim for 3 meals a day, with about 4 hours between each one, and one snack if you need it.  Grazing interferes with the digestive process and causes a constant release of insulin which impedes fat burning, weight loss and can lead to other health issues. Grazing can also cause you to lose track of the calories you've consumed. Plus, you're left feeling unsatisfied by small grazing sessions which can lead to overeating later on.


MACRO ROLES AND HEALTHY OPTIONS

PROTEINS

Support the growth and repair of muscles, hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.

Best eaten with all meals, especially breakfast, and as a post-workout snack.

HEALTHY OPTIONS

·        Pasture raised eggs

·        Organic Poultry

·        Grass-fed beef and bison

·        Lamb

·        Wild caught fish

·        Seafood

·        Spirulina

·        Hemp

·        Nuts (preferably soaked and sprouted)

·        Beans (preferably soaked)

·        Lentils

·        Tempeh


FATS

Support the growth and repair of cells, hormones, and are an excellent source of slow burning fuel for the body. Fats are our friends in spite of the bad rap they’ve received in the past. They keep us full, are fuel for the brain and heart, and help balance blood sugar, which means less fat storage.

Best eaten with all meals, especially breakfast, to help balance blood sugar from the get-go.

HEALTHY OPTIONS

·        Coconut oil

·        Butter from grass-fed cows

·        Ghee (clarified butter)

·        Animal fats (from grass-fed/pastured animals)

·        Olives

·        Olive oil

·        Avocado

·        Avocado oil

·        Nuts (preferably soaked and sprouted)

·        Nut butter

·        Fish oils

·        Fatty fish

·        Seeds

·        Oil from these seeds

Protein shakes are okay if you just don’t have the time to prepare a meal, but keep in mind that not all protein powders are created equal. Make sure they are from grass-fed cows, or if vegetarian, are non-GMO and organic. Vital Proteins, Rootz, VegaOne, and Garden of Life are all good options.  

TIP: Remember to chew your shakes and smoothies. Carbohydrate digestion begins in your mouth.


CARBOHYDRATES

Important for intestinal health and waste elimination. Convert to fast burning energy which also results in energy crashes so make sure they are eaten along with a fat or protein.

Low-starch vegetables should be eaten with every meal, but the higher carb options like starchy veggies, fruit and grains are best with lunch and dinner versus first thing in the morning.

HEALTHY OPTIONS

·        Vegetables (leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, etc)

·        Sea vegetables

·        Starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, parsnips)

·        Fruit

·        Non-gluten grains (preferably sprouted and in limited amounts)- rice, millet, quinoa, oats, teff, amaranth

·        Legumes (preferably soaked and sprouted)


Be open to experimentation when figuring out the best macro ratios for your body.

Need help figuring this out? Check out my RESTART workshop where we focus on getting the body back in balance, while tuning in to our body's needs and eating mindfully.

 

Gentle Daily Detoxing

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Detox is a word that is thrown about pretty often these days. From the Master Cleanse, to juice cleanses, colon cleanses and Dr. Oz's 48-hour cleanse, to more traditional detoxes such as fasting, sweat lodges and enemas. Some detoxification methods are a wonderful way of healing and ridding the body of toxins, while others are going to cause more harm than good.

What’s not talked about is that sometimes there is a reason your body is holding onto toxins.

Your body is pretty darn smart and is constantly attempting to remain in a state of balance. If it does not believe it is capable of clearing out toxins because one or more of its detox systems is functioning at a less than ideal level , it’s going to store those toxins in your fat and hang onto that fat until your systems are capable of flushing them out.

And if you force those toxins out, with drastic detox or weight loss diets, before your body is ready to clear them, they will flood your body and negatively impact your health. 

Toxins are everywhere from the food we eat, to the air we breathe, to our negative thoughts and emotions. Our bodies are bombarded with toxins every day.

We have many systems that participate in detoxification, including the Liver, the Digestive System, Cardiovascular System, Lymphatic System, Urinary System, Respiratory System and the Skin. I’ll touch on a few starting with where it all begins- digestion.

DIGESTION

Digestion plays a pivotal role in our body's detoxing capabilities. Proper digestion is necessary to break down food, make sure nutrients are available in a usable form and kill off bacteria and parasites. If diges-tion is impaired, there is a very good chance that all of the other detoxification pathways will be impaired as well. And from what I’ve seen in my practice, most people could use a jump start on their digestive health.

LIVER

Acting as a filter, the liver strains out and neutralizes toxins in preparation for elimination. This includes the breakdown and removal of pharmaceutical drugs, used and excess hormones, certain foods like fructose and hydrogenated oils, and so much more. Poor fat diets and blood sugar imbalances seriously impair the liver's capability to detox the blood. If all of the toxins are released from the tissue and not filtered out be-cause the liver is taxed, the blood will transport them throughout the entire body. Yeah, not cool.

LYMPHATIC SYSTEM

The lymphatic system is in charge of immunity and creates immune cells. The system also helps to shuttle away fluids from tissue in the body, as well as absorb fat and move that fat to the circulatory system to be disposed of. The lymphatic system is not controlled by muscles, so it requires us to move in order for it to work properly. Working out at OT is a game changer, but make sure to get your daily steps in too.

5 WAYS TO DETOX DAILY

Keep in mind that you don't need to live on green juice or drink lemon and maple syrup for 2 weeks in order to help your body detox. Some of the best detoxes are gentle and can be done without any of the side effects of the more extreme ones out there. Just focusing on eating REAL FOOD in it’s whole form is one of the best ways to help your body detox. 

1. ADD THIS INTO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE– start your morning off with a warm glass of filtered water, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

2. SWEAT IT OUT!!! Daily sweating is a great way to help your body clear out those toxic materials. Some  things you can do are HITT exercises, sweaty yoga, get a bit of sun (or just step outside in the summertime here in the ATX), or go to a sauna or infrared sauna.

3. STIMULATE YOUR LYMPH- Dry brushing, jumping rope or bouncing on a trampoline all stimulate lymph. If you can’t do these every day, just make sure you are walking as much as can. Lymphatic massage can also work wonders. Lymphatic cleansing foods are dark green vegetables, ginger, sea kelp, citrus fruits such as lemons and limes, flax seeds, wheat grass juice, radishes and garlic.

4. SUPPORT YOUR LIVER- Try a castor oil pack to help clear out the liver. Also cut back on, or cut out, alcohol, sugar and crappy fats. Some liver supporting foods are beets, garlic, grapefruit, green tea, leafy greens, avocados, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), and green tea.

5. TAKE A BREAK FROM FOOD- Fast occasionally to aid the digestive system. Intermittent fasting has shown to have lots of positive effects on health. Start with a 14 hour window by eating dinner by 6:30pm and breakfast at 8:30 am.

6. HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE! The body must be properly hydrated so that toxins can be flushed out through the kidneys and the skin. Hydration also aids in delivering toxins to the lymph and liver which are the major detoxification sites. If the body is dehydrated, the toxins will not be filtered out. Guess where they wind up. Yep. In your fat. Filtered water is the best option.

7. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY- eat a NUTRIENT DENSE DIET full of whole, non-processed foods and good fats like avocado, olive oil, butter, coconut oil, nuts and seeds.

Confused about how to eat in a way that will support your body and it’s detoxing systems? I get it! There is a lot of conflicting info out there, which is why I love my RESTART program.  Join me in a small and intimate group for this 5-week, program where we will detox our bodies in a gentle and effective way. This is a REAL FOOD detox- no colon cleanses, fasts or liquid diets. I want you to feel great throughout the entire program, make some long-lasting changes and leave with the knowledge on how to keep your detox success going all year long. LEARN AND SIGN UP HERE. 

Is It Really Just Willpower?

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We can plan ahead, have the best intentions and still find ourselves in a food rampage.

“I’m weak.”

“I have no willpower.”

“I’ll start over on Monday.”

How many times have you said these things to yourself?

There are a few reasons we find ourselves eating out of control and it’s not as simple as having no willpower.

We’re starving….for nutrition

It could be as simple as we are just hungry.

Not hungry for calories, hungry for nutrients. Our body does not crave calories- it craves nutrient dense foods. That’s why it's so easy to overdo it when eating things that are low-calorie, fat-free, full of empty-calories and processed. Or when we aren’t eating balanced meals with the right amount of fat, protein and carbs.

Processed foods confuse our body. Our brains associate flavor with the nutrients it should be receiving when we eat a certain food.

When you eat foods with fake flavors the body thinks it is getting the nutrition from the food associated with the flavor. So when no nutrition comes in, the body calls out for more food. And more, and more.

Think about it. How much more likely are you to overeat Doritos that have tomato flavoring than actual tomatoes? That’s because tomatoes are delivering actual nutrients where Doritos are delivering ….?

It’s also completely possible to overdo it with healthy foods too. Eating too much, is eating too much. No matter what it is.

Personal story. I used to binge on cauliflower.

Now before you roll your eyes and think, “Whatever Colleen… it’s friggin' cauliflower. Who cares?”, you need to understand that if food is controlling you and you are eating in a way that makes you feel defeated and out of control, there is a problem, and there is a reason. .

It affected me emotionally and physically, because after inhaling several heads of cauliflower I was left feeling bloated, miserable but still CRAVING more.

I remember going to my therapist and telling her how I had been binging on cauliflower. I expected her to blow me off like everyone else, but instead she held my hand, looked me in the eye and said “Colleen, maybe you are just hungry”.

Hungry? I had just eaten 5 lbs of cauliflower!

But she was right. 

You see, this was a time in my life when I neglected to listen to what MY body needed, and was eating a raw, vegetarian diet pretty much void of protein and fat. I WAS hungry…for more nutrition.

I wish I could say I started listening to my body right after that session...but I didn't. My binges eventually moved on to things a lot less healthy than cauliflower but, eventually,  I did start tuning in. And when I did a miracle happened... the feeling to eat and eat and eat went away.

Years of therapy and guilt could all have been avoided if I had just put some damn butter on that cauliflower! But ya know...live and learn:)

Basically, it's amazing how much your cravings and your portions will decrease when you eat in a way that completely nourishes YOU.

Chemical reactions are causing feel-good sensations

Food also triggers chemical reactions, and different foods will bring on different sensations.

There are certain foods that we find ourselves overeating more than others. 

Casomorphins in dairy have a calming effect. See that "morphins" in there. Look familiar? Yep, they calm the body just like morphine does.

Sugar stimulates the release of dopamine in our brain which brings on feelings of pleasure. There's a reason we down a tub of Cherry Garcia when we get dumped.

Of course the body is going to call out for more and more of these!

We are trying to bury emotions that we don’t know how to deal with

Our emotions play a huge role in overeating too. Modern society’s GO-GO-GO mentality leaves little time for mindfulness and emotion processing. 

When emotions come up that we don’t know how to handle it's very easy to just bury them with food. Anxiety, sadness, loneliness, feelings of nostalgia…these are all uncomfortable for many people.

I’ve actually had many clients bury feelings of happiness too. They reach a weight loss or health goal and suddenly find themselves knee deep in chips.  

Recognizing that this is happening and starting to recognize your emotional triggers is a great first step in getting emotional eating under control.

By slowing down, and really focusing in on WHY you have cravings, desires to binge eat, or just eat when you are not physically hungry, you will develop the capacity to stop the downward spiral of eating before it starts.

I highly recommend keeping a food journal and noting how you feel emotionally and physically before and after you eat. There is power in writing things down, and keeping a daily journal allows you look for patterns in your eating habits.

Every moment is a chance to start tuning in to what you body really needs; to start cutting out the processed foods with fake flavors (these include most "natural flavors" too); to feed your body nutrient dense, REAL food; and to recognize your triggers. You may not see the huge shifts overnight, but small shifts are happening with each effort and will lead to great things- no willpower necessary. 

***There is empowerment and opportunity for long lasting change in your health and eating habits when you understand what is truly happening in your body. Join me for a 5-week RESTART class where we learn all about digestion, blood sugar handling, how to eat the right way for YOUR body and how to eat with mindfulness, all while going thru a 3-week detox together. Click here to learn more about RESTART and join our next session.

I Used to Associate the Holidays with Food-Fear, Dread and Guilt

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Can you believe the holiday season is already in full swing? I love the holidays now, but there was a period in my life when I associated the holidays with food-fear, dread and guilt because of the negative impact they had on my health. Back in the day, I had no control over my sugar cravings and would find myself 5-10 lbs heavier by the New Year. It sucked.

"There was a time in my life when I associated the holidays with food-fear, dread and guilt."

Over the years I’ve learned how to enjoy the holidays, indulge in my favorite holiday treats mindfully and enter the New Year feeling good in my choices…and in my skinny jeans.

Here are a few simple tips that will help you do the same:


HOLD TRUE TO YOUR NORMAL DAILY ROUTINES AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Do not abandon health routines and put self-care on the back-burner. I see this all the time. We work hard all year long and then use the holiday season as a free pass to go crazy and get lazy. We can do a LOT of damage in the time between Halloween and New Years. 

There’s no need to let temptations and instant gratification get in the way of what you want most for your health. 

  • Eat the way you normally do all year long and choose just a couple of days to indulge.

You do not need to eat all the treats at all the parties, and every day in between, all holiday season long.

  • Decide on your ‘non-negotiables’. These are the things that you do for yourself that keep you on your health and fitness path that you refuse to give up. For me it’s my exercise, eating high quality food, limiting sugar and getting enough SLEEP.

INDULGE IN HOLIDAY MEALS- BUT MINDFULLY AND WITH LIMITATIONS

With all of the delicious treats filling our holiday table, it's pretty easy to pack in a week's worth of calories in one sitting.

  • Pick the foods you want to indulge in, but limit yourself to one serving and one plate full.
  • Leave room on that plate for dessert.
  • Take a few deep breaths before eating. This lets your body chill out and go from “Fight or Flight” mode to “Rest and Digest”. Being in the rest and digest state will help you digest better, feel satisfied sooner and allow you to thoroughly enjoy your meal.
  • Eat slowly and put your fork down in between bites. Enjoy every bite.
  • Chew, chew, chew.
  • Pay attention to how you feel and WHY you are eating. Holiday times bring up many emotions and it is easy to eat to cover up feelings instead of eating to fulfill hunger on a cellular level. Think about whether you are missing someone, feeling lonely, angry, sad.
  • After you finish that plate full, put your plate and utensils in the sink. You'll be less likely to dig in for seconds when you don’t have a plate in front of you.
  • Tempted to pick? Brush your teeth. I bring my toothbrush and toothpaste with me to parties. No shame here!
  • If you are a picker, avoid being the one to clear the food from the table. Instead volunteer to do the dishes. Or pop gum or a mint in your mouth.

WHAT TO DO WITH THOSE LEFTOVERS

  • Keep the proteins and veggies
  • Get rid of anything that doesn’t serve you. You don’t need to have 4 pies in your house all week…what do you think is going to happen?
  • Pack up to go containers for guests
  • Give to the homeless
  • Throw them away. YES…it is OK to throw away food that leads you away from your health goals, causes you to overeat or brings on a sense of guilt when you eat it.

DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR EXERCISE OVER THE HOLIDAYS

With all of the extra things to pack into our already over packed schedules, the temptation to skimp out on our exercise routine is strong. But the positive impact of exercise on our mood and stress levels is needed more than ever during the holiday season. 

  • Plan out your training a couple of weeks in advance. Jogs, bike rides, walks, yoga...put them all in your calendar. 
  • Sign up for an exercise program for the next few weeks. I already have my Orangetheory classes scheduled into the New Year. 
  • Get rid of the "All Or Nothing" mentality. "If I can't do an hour I won't do anything". Walk, do a 10-minute Tabata, try a YouTube yoga video.  Every bit of movement you can fit into your day means something and those short bursts of exercise add up. 
  • Change up your schedule to hit the gym earlier to get a workout in before everyone else gets up.  This way you get your workout in and have plenty of time for hanging with the family and enjoying holiday festivities. 

Most importantly, remember that the holidays are not about binge eating. They are a time to spend with family and friends, reflect on the things that are most important to you and practice gratitude. Try spending the first few moments after you wake up thinking about at least one thing you are grateful for. The effect can be pretty powerful. 

Happy Holidays Friends!

What Living With Chronic Stress Did To Me

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I wasn't always a Nutritional Therapist. Fresh out of college I actually jumped right into Corporate America. I worked in a very demanding industry in Washington, DC and was on call all the time. I literally slept with my blackberry on the pillow next to me, so to say sleep was far from a priority would be fair. I never rested. I mean- NEVER. I think the quote I used was "I’ll sleep when I'm dead".  Um…yeah. My body was pretty much in GO-GO-GO mode 24-7.  Sound familiar to anyone?

The stress also numbed my appetite completely and eating was put on the back burner. As in, I just didn’t do it. When I did eat, my fuel was coffee, chocolate and raw veggies- no healthy fats, barely any protein and too much forced stimulation from caffeine and sugar.

I was young and was delusional in my belief that I could sustain this way of living forever- and eventually my body broke down.

I had extreme adrenal fatigue and barely made it through my day. I would wake up and peel myself out of the bed, motivated only by the fact that once I got through my work day I could crawl right back in. I called it “living in survival mode”. My cortisol levels were completely off. I couldn’t sleep through the night even though I was beyond exhausted. My thyroid was failing, I developed a goiter and hypothyroidism.  I lost my period (for 4 years) and was an anxious, mental wreck in a constant brain fog. Sound miserable? Well...it was.  

It took me a very long time to recover from the repercussions of living with chronic stress and although it’s been many years since I left that lifestyle, I still have to be very cautious of my nutrition and self-care.  I have gotten past the adrenal fatigue, but am still vulnerable to relapses and I have to pamper my adrenals daily. I got my period back and reversed my hypothyroidism but it took a couple of years of really focusing on lifestyle and diet modifications. And I have learned to nap and rest, but it took a long time to get me here.

My biggest struggle still, and I think this is the biggest struggle for many people nowadays, is stress management and learning how to prioritize self-care. And unfortunately, stress plays a major role in most health issues, especially endocrine system dysfunction.

Stress has become a major culprit in a variety of modern day health problems, one of the most common being infertility and hormone imbalance. This has to do in part with adrenals, cortisol and their role in stress management.

Cortisol is our "fight or flight" hormone and gives us that extra boost in a state of emergency.  You know that burst of energy you get when a car swerves into your lane? That's the effect of the adrenals reacting to an emergency and releasing cortisol. When the adrenals fire, the body listens. 

Problems arise when this state of emergency occurs all day, every day due to our modern way of living, putting us in a constant state of "chronic' stress.  Modern day emergencies include:

–40+ hour work week and daily commuting (hello road rage!)
– Refined sugars and a high glycemic diet
– Emotional stress
– Coffee and other stimulants
– Alcohol
– Nutritional deficiencies
– Eating too often or not often enough
– Disease

The body's sees survival as the number one priority, which means it will fuel our fight or flight response and put other functions on hold especially hormone production. If the body feels threatened or stressed adrenal function will be favored over reproduction, metabolic rate and all other endocrine functions.

This is where something called the "pregnenolone steal" comes into play. Pregnenolone is the precursor to the production of the sex and adrenal hormones and only so much pregnenolone can be produced by the body. Since adrenal function is favored over reproduction (we can live without producing children) the adrenal glands will steal the prenenolone from the endocrine system to create cortisol and all sex hormone production will come to a halt.  This explains partly why so many people experience fertility issues in our modern-day society.

Aside from lack of sex hormone production by the endocrine system, high cortisol creates other issues as well. Hormones are short lived and not all that are produced are needed. They are created, do their job and then need to shuffled on out of body.

The liver is responsible for deactivating, breaking down, conjugating and removing the hormones that are in excess or no longer functioning.  When there are elevated levels of cortisol, the pathways responsible for these actions are compromised, which means those extra hormones remain in the body affecting our weight, mood and other functions.

You know that extra roll of belly fat that just won’t go away? Excess hormones are probably to blame for that. And they are probably there because the liver is being called away to deal with issues resulting from stress and high cortisol.

Although it is impossible to remove all stress for your life there are ways to lessen it, thereby decreasing your levels of cortisol and allowing for proper hormone creation and liver function.  There are some simple things you can do every day to keep your fight or flight response at bay.

  • Hit the sack early and nap whenever possible. Getting a solid 8+ hours of sleep a day reduces cortisol levels significantly. Read tips for the best night's sleep here.
  • Meditate daily, even if it's just for 10 minutes. Calm and Headspace are 2 great meditation apps.
  • Bypass TV for a good book or your favorite tunes. Music and reading can have calming effects on the brain, especially when you are feeling stressed.
  • Hang out with people who make you laugh and engage you in positive conversation.
  • Breathe! It may seem ridiculous that we need to remind ourselves to do this, but think about how often you take a full, deep, fulfilling breath during the day. It's probably a whole lot less than it should be.
  • Eat a nutrient dense diet void of refined sugars and caffeine. There are specific ways to eat that support hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. Reach out to me if you would like more info.

Make it a goal to just being good to yourself. There is often a guilt associated with rest and a sense of accomplishment with pushing yourself past exhaustion, working as many hours as you can and being an overachiever.  Our bodies are amazing and can handle a lot, but there is a point where they are going to fight back and eventually shut down. Luckily, they are also resiliant and by paying attention to how you manage your stress and fuel your body you can avoid many of the issues I've had to live through. I’d love to hear your experience with stress and some of the things you do to manage the stress in your life.

Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t Sticking

Guest post from my wise and enlightened life coach friend Amanda McPherson. She was voted one of Austin's 19 best life coaches and offers a refreshing and honest outlook on dating and creating a life full of passion, confidence and intention.  

If you're like a lot of people, you are feeling some need to set some goals or intentions for the New Year. But, why?

Because you think you "should"?

Because you've heard it's a good thing to do?

Well, I'm here to tell you those reasons aren't going to keep your goals alive for very long. They’re sure to die quicker than a wedding engagement on The Bachelor if you don’t know the why behind your new goals and intentions.

Some people who are a lot smarter than me conducted some legit studies of human behavior when it comes to goals and such. The evidence basically said “yeah, people don’t implement changes in their lives just because it’s good for them”...makes sense, right?

If it only took intellectual awareness about what is best for us to inspire change, none of us would smoke cigarettes, abuse drugs and alcohol, overspend, gossip etc.

So, like most of the topics I explore in my blog, it comes back to our roots.

Why are your goals important to you? Are they rooted in something meaningful and value-based?  It’s important that you feel emotionally connected with the why behind your goals.

So, if you are having trouble finding the passion and excitement to keep your goals alive, maybe you aren't focusing enough on why it’s on your list.  

For example, let’s use the ever-popular New Year’s goal of losing weight. The why behind this goal is going to be different for everybody.

* I want to have more energy to play with my children.

* I want to feel more confident when I go on dates.

* I want to be active and travel late into my life.

* I love shopping for nice clothes and I want it to feel fun again.

Here's a little exercise for you. If you already have a list of goals/intentions, jot them down (or type them into the computer)  Yeah, like right now. Just do it! Now, for each goal, write down at least three reasons why each goal is important to you.

Don't judge your reasons why. Just be honest about why you want to meet that goal.

Are you surprised by anything you wrote? Do you feel more excited about these goals when you see why they are important to you? I would imagine you’re feeling some emotion about your goals right now (hopefully some emotion that inspires!).

From this point forward, refer to the list of whys to motivate you when you’re losing your desire to implement the positive changes you want to see in your life. This list of heart-led, value-driven desires is going to get you a lot farther down the road than just a simple list of to-dos.

And, perhaps most importantly, if you can’t find some really compelling whys behind a goal, drop it like a hot potato. There is no good reason to beat yourself up about goals that aren’t rooted in your values and true desires. If you find that your goals are ringing a little hollow, spend some time thinking about how you want to feel. Once you’ve decided on some ways you’d like to feel, write down some action items that you could take that will move you closer to that feeling. Voila’! Now you have your measurable goals and action items.

Oh, and if you would like a little help getting some clarity, focus and excitement around your 2017 goals, join me and other fabulous ladies on Sunday, January 22nd for my Vision Board Workshop. It’s a great opportunity to meet other like-minded women, laugh, dream, and start manifesting the life you deserve. It is almost sold out, so don’t wait!


Amanda is a trained Life Coach and holds a Master's Degree in Counseling. As a recovering risk-avoiding scaredy-cat, she is passionate about empowering women to live and love boldly. Amanda shares her inspiration through personal coaching, corporate training, workshops and international retreats. Her writing has also been featured in several on-line publications. Learn more about Amanda at lifecoachamanda.com or on Facebook

Ten Reasonable and Achievable Health Tips For The New Year

Welcome to the Colon Cleansing/Juice Fasting/Dieting/”I’m Going To The Gym Every Day” Month.

Many of us start the New Year with a massive list of resolutions – “I’m going to fast daily, go Paleo, lose 15 lbs, run a marathon, give up sugar, go vegan and join Crossfit, starting NOW.”

Talk about stressing yourself out. Remember that small changes can add up to HUGE results. Taking on too much at one time usually leads to failure. Instead, pick one thing and accomplish that. Then add another, and another. 

Here are some tips on how to make subtle changes in your life and have this year be your healthiest year yet!

1. Skip the fad diet and find a plan you can stick to, and enjoy, all year long

The store shelves are packed with paraphernalia in anticipation for the New Year's cleanse.  Colon cleanses, Master cleanses, cabbage soup diets, juice cleanses- these are all just temporary fixes and for most people they lead to feelings of failure and future binges. 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it's impossible to reverse a year’s worth of unhealthy eating in a one week cleanse. 

Our bodies are naturally detoxing themselves constantly and as long as you are giving it the fuel it needs, harsh, overly restrictive diets are completely unnecessary. Try this instead:

  • Find a healthy eating plan that you can stick to all year long. This way when next New Year rolls around you won’t feel the need for an extreme detox.
  • Focus on eating REAL FOOD, which means tons of organic veggies and fruits, nuts, grass-fed  and organic meat, wild fish, eggs, and lots of healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, grass-fed butter, lard, and olive oil. Eating real food allows your body to THRIVE. 

I offer a 5 week REAL FOOD program which will teach you how to eat real foods for a total reset and lifelong health. You can read about it here.

2. Find an exercise program that you ENJOY

For me exercise is a way to de-stress and empower myself and I want to look forward to it.  We all have different needs when it comes to physical activity.

Just because your best friend loves running 7 miles a day doesn’t mean you have to. I personally could happily live the rest of my life without ever jogging again. 

There are so many options when it comes to working out—kick-boxing, Cross-Fit, cycling, Pilates, rock-climbing, hiking, Zumba, Barre, walking, the list goes on and on. Try different programs until you find the one (or ones) that excite and motivate you!  Class Pass is a great way to try out different classes in your hood.

3. Focus on what you love about yourself instead of what you want to change about yourself

This is the one I am going to put at the top of my list this year. It’s so easy to look in the mirror and focus on the things we wish were different about ourselves. But what about the things we LOVE about ourselves.

I truly believe that our thoughts have energy- so fill yourself with positive thoughts of self love and see where it takes you.

4. Say goodbye to caffeine, or at least cut back a bit

That daily cup(s)of joe that you think is making you so productive probably isn’t. Caffeine may rise you up for a bit, but once it wears off production declines leaving you reaching for another fix.  Our bodies are meant to function without stimulation. 

Healthy eating, sufficient sleep and exercise will energize you throughout the whole day without the peaks and valleys caused by caffeine. 

Try going caffeine-free for a couple of weeks and see the difference.  You may experience a withdrawal headache, which should make you think about just how much caffeine is a drug, but I guarantee you will feel more balanced and focused within a couple of days. Try sipping on herbal teas,  or herbal coffee instead. You can find some info and recipes for herbal coffee here. 

5. Meditate at least once a day

Meditation is one of the best ways to set your intention and gain clarity for the day.  Start with just 5 minutes every morning.

There are so many forms of meditation, but you can start simply by finding a quiet space, getting comfy, andbreathing calmly, trying your best to keep a clear mind while focusing on your breath.

6.Give up refined sugar

Say it with me: “Sugar is TOXIC for my body and brain.” Sugar contains tons of calories without any nutrients. There are no proteins, essential fats, vitamins or minerals in sugar, hence why it is said to consist of “empty calories". Here are just a few of the positive benefits you can experience by quitting sugar:

  • Weight loss
  • Clearer skin
  • More energy
  • More creativity
  • More willpower
  • Less cravings
  • Less inflammation
  • Less anxiety and depression
  • Reduced risk of illness

7. Sleep- A LOT

Sleeping is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. And yet a majority of people do not get adequate sleep and their health suffers for it.  Having trouble falling/staying asleep? Here are some tips on how to wind down and get those much neededZZZ’s:

  • Make your bedroom your sanctuary by making your bed as cozy as possible with lots of pillows and soft blankets. Keep decorations to a minimum (to avoid stimulation) and fill the room with calming scents like lavender and chamomile.
  • Avoid bright screens within 2 hours of your bedtime. This is easier said than done for some people so if you MUST look at a screen…
  • Use blue light blocking glasses. These will block the blue glow from screens which suppress our natural sleep mechanisms. Read more about the power of these glasses here.
  • Make sure your room is completely dark. Blackout curtains work wonders.
  • Avoid large meals before bed. It’s best to consume your last meal at least 3 hours before you hit the hay.
  • Avoid alcohol- although it may make you feel drowsy at first, it interferes with your sleep cycle.
  • Keep your room at a cool temperature around 68 degrees.
  • Keep your bedroom a space for SLEEP (or snuggling and loving) ONLY. This means no TV or work should take place in this room.

Need some motivation to get to bed earlier? Here are just a few things getting an adequate amount of sleep is linked to:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased memory
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Lower stress
  • Higher concentration and productivity
  • Decreased risk of depression
  • Longer life span

Read more about this here.

8. Eat coconut oil every day

Coconut oil is one of my favorite super foods and benefits our entire body and brain. Our bodies thrive on fats and coconut oil is one of the best fats out there. Here are some reasons you should consume it daily:

  • Coconut oil boosts metabolism helping you burn more body fat and have more energy.
  • It is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
  • It is antibacterial.
  • It is great for your brain and has been shown to improve memory and cognitive functioning.
  • It balances both women’s and men’s hormone levels.
  • It tastes amazing and is a powerful sugar-craving killer.

 9. Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water per day

Water is such a part of our everyday life that we often forget how unique and essential to life it is. It plays a vital role in keeping our bodies’ cells, tissues, and organs running smoothly and when consumed daily, in the proper quantities, it can also prevent and heal many health disorders. Some of the benefits of drinking water:

  • Drinking water can help you lose weight
  • It will make your skin look and feel gorgeous
  • It aids in digestion
  • It can help prevent high blood pressure
  • It can provide heartburn prevention and relief
  •  

Read more about the health benefits of water here.

10. Wait at least one hour after waking up before checking your email and social media

OK- this one is HARD, but so powerful. Use the morning as a time to keep a space for your own thoughts and ideas. Checking emails or Facebook first thing in the morning disrupts your personal time, distracts you during meditation, and will tempt you to start your day reacting to work and others’ requests instead on focusing on your own personal needs. 

You have all day to interact via email and social media. Keep your mornings stress-free and focused on you.  Try one of the following instead:

  • Sip a glass of warm lemon water and Himalayan sea salt to cleanse the liver and boost adrenal function
  • Sit outside and breathe in the fresh air
  • Meditate
  • Read
  • Write in your journal
  • Make a list of a few things you would like to accomplish that day

Most importantly- be good to yourself and others. Happy New Year friends!

Fat Bombs and Holiday Health

The holidays are in full swing, the smell of sugar is in the air and holiday treats are in abundance.  It feels like there is some kind of delicious tempting dessert at every turn.  Enjoying the holidays without feeling deprived while also feeling healthy and in control may seem hopeless...but it's actually a lot easier than you think!  It is possible to have your fruit cake and eat it too, or to have the power to turn the other way.

Here's one of the main problems with sugar that rings true for most people: once you start you can't stop. How many of you can have just one bite of cake? Yeah, my hand didn't raise for that one either. So what do you do when you are at a holiday party, or anywhere for that matter, where delicious, tempting, not so great for your body or soul treats are around?

Plan ahead- Eat a healthy serving of protein and fat before heading out. This will keep cravings at bay so that you don't find yourself inhaling the peppermint brownie tray at your company holiday party.

Bring your own goodies- You don't have to feel deprived of holiday treats if you create your own healthier bites. One of my favorite sugar craving killing treats are fat bombs made with coconut oil, raw cacao,  and a bit of Stevia. Or just a spoonful of straight up coconut oil.  It's rich. It's super healthy. It's fantastic. And it kicks sugar cravings to the curb. I swear by these.

Just eat the treat and ENJOY it- Treats are just that- TREATS, and it's OK for you to indulge in one every once in a while.  I will stress the words ONE and ONCE IN AWHILE. If there is a certain dessert that only comes around during the holiday season, by all means, have it! But when you eat it, enjoy every bite, guilt free. If you are going to feel guilty and punish yourself afterwards it's better to just skip it.

Evacuate the area- If all else fails and you find yourself out of control, inhaling everything in sight and feeling guilty and panicked it's OK to remove yourself from the situation.  Never feel guilty for making your health, both physical and mental, your priority. It's better to go home early than to eat a bunch of junk and then beat yourself up for it days afterwards. Not. Worth. It. 

Sometimes, even with our best efforts, we still overdo it over the holiday season. Check out my RESTART detox as a way to get rid of the bloat, fatigue, and few extra pounds that might have snuck up on you these past few months. 


FAT BOMBS

Here's a super quick and easy sugar craving crushing treat you can make in minutes to take to parties or keep at home for when you are craving something delicious and healthy. 

COCONUT CACAO BALLS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened medium-shredded coconut
  • ½ cup extra-virgin coconut oil, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons Vega One vanilla flavor protein powder (optional) OR 5-10 drops of Stevia

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS

  • Cacao nibs
  • Dried acai berries
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Chia seeds
  • Crushed walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Line a baking sheet with non-toxic parchment paper
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or mixer.
  3. Mix until all ingredients are combined and a dough is formed
  4. Roll about 1 tablespoon of the dough in your hands to create a ball.
  5. If adding toppings, place the toppings on a plate and roll the ball over them until the outside of the ball is covered.
  6. Line balls up on the baking pan and place it in the refrigerator to cool for about 15 minutes or until the balls are solid
  7. These will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator or a couple of months in an airtight container in the freezer.

COCONUT AND SPICE FAT BOMBS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk from a can
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2-3 drops of liquid stevia,or to your taste

 

BEAUTY GREENS TRUFFLES

  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened medium-shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons Beauty Greens
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao
  • ½ cup extra virgin coconut oil at room temperature
  • 1-3 drops liquid stevia or to your taste
  • toppings: unsweetened shredded coconut, hemp hearts, cacao nibs

FIND MORE FAT BOMB RECIPES HERE.

Thanksgiving Feasting

This year, let’s leave those elastic waistband pants in the drawer, or better yet, throw them away! Eating healthy during the holidays can be enjoyable, exciting and it will leave you feeling good about your decisions and comfortable in your skinny jeans.  No post holiday bloat and guilt here!

Nutritious eating means including all of the good stuff. And the good stuff has amazing flavors.  Healthy fats, fresh veggies, organic meats and small amounts of natural sugars will make your taste buds light up and your body thrive.  Stuck on which recipes to use this holiday? Aside from turkey, here’s what I’ll be enjoying at my table (and yes, it does include desserts)!


APPETIZER


SIDES

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I Sleep Better Than You...Here's Why


I remember when I used to associate sleeping with being lazy. I think the expression I used was "I'll sleep when I'm dead". Um...yeah. Luckily I've smartened up. Sleeping is honestly one of my favorite activities and my health has improved tremendously because of it.

The benefits of sleep are incredible. Sleep is our body's time to recover from everything it did for us during the day and has been show to:

  • assist with weight loss
  • increase athletic performance
  • improve concentration and memory
  • increase cell repair
  • decrease risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • improve mood
  • decrease the risk of depression
  • improve immune system function
  • decrease inflammation
  • improve social skills

It's crazy how many people suffer from insomnia or put sleep at the bottom of their list of priorities.  I used to suffer from chronic insomnia until I learned how to amp up my sleep hygiene.  Here are some effective tips to ensure you get a night of quality, rejuvenating sleep.

      Tips for a good night's sleep

  • Make your bedroom all about sleep- and that's it. No tv, no work, no eating. Just sleep.
  • Treat yourself to a comfortable mattress and pillows. You spend a majority of your life in bed- make it as pleasant and soothing as possible.
  • Increase sunlight exposure during the day.
  • No screen time at least 2 hours before bed. If this isn't possible, wear orange goggles to block the blue light emitted from screens which stimulates the body. Read more about this here. 
  • Download flux to your computer which will give your screen an amber glow when the sun sets.
  • Get black out curtains to block out the artificial light from surrounding buildings, cars and street lights.  All electric light at night disrupts the circadian rhythm of the pineal gland and production of melatonin which is responsible for a deep and restful sleep.
  • Diffuse calming essential oils such as lavender, or chamomile.
  • Get into a sleep pattern. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including the weekends.
  • Try to go to sleep and wake up with the sun. If this is not happening, aim to get into bed before 10 pm and rise around 6 am or 7 am.
  • Exercise daily, but not close to bed time. Exercising in the daylight is ideal.
  • Sip calming herbal teas like chamomile, lavender, or kava.
  • Take a Magnesium supplement. Try an oral one like CALM, or a topical one like this.
  • Limit or avoid refined sugar and processed foods.
  •  Avoid eating a large meal several hours before bed.
  • If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, it may be a sign that your blood sugar is crashing. Try having a small fat or protein snack before bed like a few bites of chicken, or a small spoonful of coconut oil.
  • Journal or make a list of things to do the following day before bed to clear your brain.
  • Write down the things you are grateful for.
  • Keep a pen and paper next to your bed in case you wake up with thoughts that you need to get out. Writing them down will clear your head and allow you to fall back to sleep.
  • Use a sound machine or earplugs to block out outside noise. 
  • Meditation is a powerful tool for obtaining health, both physical and mental. It helps you sleep, be present, manage stress, feel grounded...the list goes and on. Yet so many people feel intimidated by it. Meditation does not have to be a huge affair with candles and hours of silence in front of a giant Buddha statue (although that would be lovely). Just sitting still and focusing on your breath for 5 minutes a day can have profound effects
  • Hot baths before bed—take a 15 minute hot bath about 90 minutes before bed.  Add one or two cups of Epsom salts along with a calming essential oil such as lavender or chamomile.

And don't forget about the power of a good nap. Napping is the perfect way to refresh and replenish.  The length of time you nap also has different effects on your brain. 10-20 minutes or 90 minutes seem to be the sweet spots .

 

From Binging to Butter

For years we were promised slim thighs and flat abs and all we had to do was follow the magical "low-fat" diet.  Walk down the aisles in your grocery store and you'll see the shelves stocked with low-fat cookies, low-fat cheese and low-fat frozen dinners. But if these low-fat foods are as magical as promised, why is our obesity epidemic at an all time high?

I started a low-fat diet in high school and stuck with it until I was about 30.  Add on the double whammy of being a lazy vegetarian, who didn't focus on complete proteins and supplementation,  I was soon to become a full blown sugar addict.  No matter how much I ate I did not feel satisfied. Because my body was lacking the satiety and fuel offered by fat it sent out signals for quick fuel- aka SUGAR.

The cravings were no joke and I would find myself going through major binge sessions on sugar filled cookies, chips, bread and other nutrient lacking foods.  I went to therapy, acupuncture, hypnosis- anything to make my binges go away. 

Those things helped a little, but I still found my sugar cravings to be uncontrollable- until I added fat into my diet. It was like a miracle. Finally, that voice in my head calling for sugar was gone. I could say no to desserts at parties and dinners. I had energy. I was satisfied. My skin looked better. I lost weight. My mood was better.  I felt awesome.  And all from taking the sugar out and putting the fat in.  

There are many reasons why low-fat diets have led people to pack on the pounds, the main one being the replacement of fat with sugar.  One of fat's best qualities is that it makes food taste really, really good. So when you take it out, food is left tasting pretty blah. In order to drive up people's desire to eat low-fat foods something needed to be added to make it taste good again, and that thing was sugar.   

Sugar consumption in the United States is an epidemic. Never before in history have Americans consumed so much sugar, with the average person eating over 140 lbs of it per year.  Sugar is one of the worst things we can eat as it wreaks havoc on almost every system in our body.

When we take the fat out of food, we are left feeling hungry and un-fueled.  Fat is more satiating than protein and carbs, so we eat less of it.  It is also digested at a much slower rate. When we eat sugar and other high-carb foods we digest them quickly and usually experience blood sugar peeks and then crashes which lead to cravings for more sugar to bump our levels back up. Before you know it you've devoured an entire box of fat-free cookies which adds up to a ton of sugar and empty calories.

Bombarding our systems with high-sugar, low-fat foods causes our blood sugar to spike and drop continuously throughout the day and raises our insulin levels.  When the proper amounts are released, insulin is a good thing. Insulin is responsible for telling the cells to open up and let in the glucose (blood sugar) that is in the blood. But if our body is constantly releasing insulin our cells eventually become resistant to it and this is where the issues arise.

Sugar also causes glycation which is when sugar sticks to the proteins of the cell membranes and prevents the membranes from receiving signals from insulin to let the glucose in.  Both glycation and insulin resistance lead to the blood holding onto the high levels of glucose which can cause many diseases such as diabetes, PCOS, hypoglycemia,  high-blood pressure, heart disease, Syndrome X (insulin resistance or pre-diabetes) and obesity.

Having too much insulin released also decreases fat breakdown for energy and increases fat storage. By eating so much sugar, there is an abundance of insulin being secreted which is pretty much telling our body to hold onto fat and store the extra sugar in our blood as fat, which in turn makes us fat.

Insulin resistance also decreases the amount of energy our bodies can create from glucose and fat, which leads to a decrease in exercise, yet another factor in the obesity epidemic.

So in order not to become fat, we must eat fat.

Keep in mind that not all fats are created equal. Some examples of good quality fats are avocados, butter from grass-fed cows, extra virgin olive oil, lard, nuts, seeds and coconut oil.

Avoid: Refined oils, Hydrogenated oils, Partially-Hydrogenated oils, and Cold-PROCESSED oils (do not confuse this sneaky phrase with Cold-PRESSED).

Sugar addiction is a real thing with detrimental effects. It can be very difficult to conquer as it affects us both emotionally and physically.  Many people don't realize how much sugar they are consuming daily,and how much they rely on it, since it is hidden in so many store bought and restaurant foods. This is one of the reasons I am offering my 5-week RESTART program which includes a 3 week detox program.  Find out more information here

Questions? Call me at 512-649-1733 or or email me at colleen@nutritionalzest.com

 

 

Amber Shades and ZZZs


I LOVE SLEEP.  As a recovered insomniac I have experienced firsthand the negative health effects of not sleeping- and the amazing rejuvenation a good night’s sleep can bring.

Sleep is one of the most important factors for good health and a life full of vitality. Research has shown that getting between 7 and 9 hours per night can relieve stress, improve memory and cognitive function, reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, and help with weight loss.  

As our world changes to one focused on longer hours in front of the computer, looking at our phones, reading e-books instead of paper books and playing video games, our sleep cycles have been thrown off in a big way.  This is because of the blue light emitted from electronic light sources.

“Participants reading an LE-eBook took longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock, and reduced next morning alertness than when reading a printed book. These results demonstrate that evening exposure to an LE-eBook phase-delays the circadian clock, acutely suppresses melatonin, and has important implications for understanding the impact of such technologies on sleep, performance, health, and safety.”- PNAS | January 27, 2015 | vol. 112 | no. 4 |

So, what’s the deal with blue light?

The light-dark cycle is the most important synchronizer of the human circadian system.

Our sleep patterns are naturally based on the circadian rhythm which is signaled by the rising and setting of the sun. This goes back to pre-electricity days. When the sun rose, it was time to be awake and active. When it got dark it was time to rest and recover.

With the introduction of electricity, and screens that emit lights of blue wavelength, our circadian rhythm is thrown off. This is because the blue light generated from electronics mimics sunlight, thus tricking out bodies into thinking it’s still daytime.

As a result, the production of our sleep hormone, melatonin, is diminished. The dark of night signals the pineal gland in our brain to produce melatonin, so if we are looking at blue light, our body doesn't recognize that it is night time, the pineal gland doesn’t secrete melatonin and we don’t get tired or fall into a deep, replenishing sleep. 

The reduction of melatonin production has been shown to increase obesity, anxiety, metabolic disorders and depression. 

This holds true for children as well as adults.

"Exposure to excessive light at night, including extended use of various electronic media, can disrupt sleep or exacerbate sleep disorders, especially in children and adolescents. This effect can be minimized by using dim red lighting in the nighttime bedroom environment." American Medical Association's Council on Science and Public Health

Room light affects sleep as well.

“Compared with dim light, exposure to room light before bedtime suppressed melatonin, resulting in a later melatonin onset in 99.0% of individuals and shortening melatonin duration by about 90 min. Also, exposure to room light during the usual hours of sleep suppressed melatonin by greater than 50% in most (85%) trials.”- J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Mar

It is not only screen light that affects our sleep. Electrical room lighting has been shown to have a profound effect on our quality of sleep. In our modern world we are exposed to bright room lights well into the night while participating in social activities or working.   

Room light has been shown to suppress melatonin levels and shorten the body's perception of night. By keeping bright interior lights on in the evening, melatonin production is disrupted impacting sleep, thermoregulation, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.

Ideally, we should be shutting down all electronics and electric powered lights at least 2 hours before bedtime.  But for many people, this just isn’t going to happen. Luckily there are ways to work around the blue light epidemic. 

Bring on the amber lenses!

Blue light blocking glasses which are made with amber colored lenses simulate physiologic darkness by counteracting the short-wavelength of blue light.  As a result melatonin production is not decreased and you will be able to enjoy a deep and restful sleep even if you don’t shut down at sunset.

“The amount of blue light in the spectrum of light sources increases with increasing color temperature. So far a number of studies have investigated the effects of the color temperature of lighting on mental activity, the central nervous system and alertness. These studies have demonstrated that higher color temperatures (7500 K versus 3000 K) are more activating from the viewpoint of mental activity level [12]. Both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems are thought to be enhanced under higher color temperature conditions. [13] and drowsiness has been observed to be higher under lower color temperature lighting when comparing 3000 K with 5000 K [14].”- Journal of Circadian Rhythms 2007, 5:2doi:10.1186/1740-3391-5-2

As a former insomniac I have found that using amber tinted, blue blocking glasses has had a profound effect on my sleep quality and duration. Unless you are shutting off all lights, screens and not glancing at your phone after sunset, amber lenses are the way to go.  I noticed an immediate change in the quantity and QUALITY of my sleep when I started using blue light blocking glasses. 

I put them on as soon as the sun starts to set and wear them until I shut off my light to sleep. I fall asleep faster, have more vivid dreams, and wake up feeling more rested.  I also notice a sense of calm as soon as I put them on.

There are some cheap options on Amazon that work great. My favorites are Uvex  for nighttime and Gamma Ray Optics for when you are getting a bit too much screen time during the day.

Other ways to block out blue light at night are:

  • Installing F.lux on your computer which will block out all the blue light and give it an orange hue
  •  Blackout curtains
  • Eye masks
  • Orange light bulb in reading lamp
  • Use salt lamps which have an orange glow and clean the air
  • Leave your phone in another room when you sleep to resist the temptation to look at it before bed and if you wake from sleep

Not all blue light is bad!

Something to keep in mind though is that not all blue light is bad- it's WHEN we are exposed to blue light that is the issue.  Blue light during the day is a necessity for energy, a sense of well-being and maintaining a proper circadian rhythm.  Think about how you feel after a few cloudy, gray days compared to days full of sunshine. 

Blue light is also used to manage depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and mood disorders. So, like most things health related, it’s all about balance.  So get outside and suck up those natural blue rays during the day and pop on your sexy amber glasses at night for the best night’s sleep.

More studies here.

 

 

Treat or Trigger

FROM TREAT TO TRIGGER

A few days ago I posted about how I was treating myself to my "every great once in a while treat" cup of butter coffee.  Well, it's 4 days later and I've found myself at the Picnik trailer with a butter coffee in hand every day since.  Yep. Coffee is a trigger food for me.

We've all been there.  You're in that health food groove. You're feeling good. You're in control. You rock. And the that little voice starts up. "You can totally handle a treat. You've earned it.  Just a little one."  Next thing you know you're face planted in a chocolate cake or, in my case, gulping frothy butter coffee which may taste oh so good, but leaves me feeling oh so bad- physically as well as mentally.

Sometimes moderation just isn't going to work. There are certain foods out there that are going to  lead you to make poor choices all day long. That will make you feel out of control. That will leave you feeling depleted physically and mentally. I call these trigger foods.

Triggers foods are called that for a reason. They set off a chemical reaction in your body that trigger cravings for a never ending supply of foods that do not do your body good and restart that cycle of toxic eating. 

The idea of removing these trigger foods can seem overwhelming. In many cases people have an actual addiction to trigger foods. The thought of removing a certain food may make you angry. Or frustrated with yourself for not having "will power".  But what if we shifted our way of thinking and reached deep to figure out what it is about these foods that's drawing us in. What are we REALLY hungry for?

 Is eating those foods really bringing you pleasure? Or do you find yourself feeling guilty, out of control or down on yourself?  I don't know about you but I want the foods I eat to leave me feeling positive, strong, energized and healthy.

Are you missing something emotionally or physically that's making you crave sweets, or alcohol, or caffeine, or whatever your trigger food is? Have you been skimping on those healthy fats or veggies that satisfy your body's nutritional desires? Or are you missing something emotionally and reaching for sweets to replace the sweetness that's missing in your life?

For me, coffee, and caffeine in general, gives me an extra burst of energy. At first. But when I really think about it, that energy is short lived and is followed by a bit of crankiness and then extreme tiredness. Not worth it. It also makes me feel high and happy for about an hour. And then that hour ends and I'm left with a craving for more. 

When I'm honest with myself, I can recognize that there are plenty of other things I can do in the morning that bring me happiness, without the taxing effects on my adrenals and mood that coffee has, and that don't leave me craving more caffeine or sugar when I crash a few hours later.  And these are the things that I have been skimping out on lately while working on building my business.

Extra cuddle time with my boyfriend, a long walk along the lake, sitting outside on my deck sipping chicory tea, a good workout, down-time with a good book- these are all things that leave me feeling happy and fulfilled. 

Removing your trigger foods and replacing them with things that are nourishing to your body and soul will leave you feeling in control, content and fulfilled.

As a nutrition practitioner I do walk the walk, but I also sometimes trip along the way.  What I've learned to do is to use these trips as an opportunity to learn where to place my feet so that I don't trip in the same place again. So I'm saying goodbye to my butter coffee and hello to empowerment.

I'd like to challenge you to really dig deep the next time you are craving something that you know will trigger a pattern of unhealthy eating. Sit with your discomfort, examine that feeling. See what you get out of it and if you can uncover one hidden emotion or physical feeling that is creating this craving. I'd love to hear about what you find.

 

 

R&R

Enjoying some much needed R&R. The beach is like magic to me. It is honestly one of the only places where I can completely decompress and rejuvenate guilt-free for a long period of time. In our crazy world of GO GO GO it is so important to make the time to rest. Both mentally and physically. Beach vacations are great for this, but making rest a daily practice is even more effective. Setting aside just 10 minutes a day to sit in silence, meditate, take an Epsom salt bath, walk in nature or anything that brings you that sense of Zen will have amazing effects on your health and productivity. What are some of your favorite ways to decompress?

One of "Those" Days

Today was one of "those days". Those days where you wake up exhausted on the wrong side of the bed, spill your first cup of coffee (chicory for me), work on gross projects for work that fill your chest and gut with inner squirms for way too many hours, get a flat tire. Oh, and get a big fat speeding ticket. Yeah. Today was one of "those" days. Nature walks are my remedy for "those" days. No music, no phone, no distractions. Just me and mama nature connecting and letting all of those gross feelings free. Works every time.

Healthy beverage...or not so much?

There's been a theme this week of  people asking me what I think about specific drinks that are marketed as "healthy".

Zevia, which is marketed as a healthy substitution for soda, was one of them. Personally, I think Zevia is delicious:) But, even though it is better than soda and diet soda, it is a highly processed drink and, in my opinion, it should be treated as a "treat", which means limited to special occasions. Here's why. 

It has 'natural flavors' which could be anything. Natural flavors are usually extracted from food, highly processed (which destroys all of the positive nutritional components) and then added back into your food in a lab. Yuck. Here's a great article on how natural flavors and artificial flavors aren't as different as one would think. 

Citric acid is another highly processed ingredient. It is fermented using a mold that feeds on corn syrup glucose. And where there's corn, there's GMO's. Yuck again.

Zevia also has erythritol which is a sugar alcohol. Although sugar alcohol seems to be safe for human consumption it is another highly processed material usually made from corn due to its large demand. It can cause stomach issues, and if something causes stomach issues I personally see it as the body rejecting it and would add it to the list of things to avoid or limit. 

There's also the sweet factor. True, it doesn't have sugar, but there is a very strong connection between taste and what our body expects to be receiving nutritionally. So sometimes just the sweet flavor will trigger hormone reactions in the body similar to the reactions from eating actual sugar. There is a great book that talks about this called "The Dorito Effect". I highly recommend it. If your beliefs about nutrition are similar to mine, it will probably totally piss you off:)

V-8 is another drink in question, as it is advertised as a great way to get your daily servings of vegetables. Unfortunately, this is pretty far from a truth.  

First of all, it's highly processed. Juice is best to drink when it is still 'alive'- meaning freshly squeezed, via a cold-pressed process. Think Juiceland/Daily Juice/ Whole Foods/Juice Bar style. 

It's reconstituted, meaning the juice is removed by a juicing machine and then the water is extracted from that juice using high heat. This condenses it to a concentrate which makes it easy and cheaper to ship and then water is added back in when they produce the V-8.   

The problem with reconstituted juice is that the heating process destroys the enzymes which are needed to metabolize the juice. Vitamin C is also depleted, and then artificially added back in, which brings us to the next ingredient- citric acid. I already mentioned citric acid above- not the best ingredients.  

V-8 also has 'natural flavors' which , as I also mentioned above, could be anything and are usually highly processed.

If you are going to drink juice, make sure it is cold-pressed and as fresh as possible. I also recommend that you pair it with a protein and/or fat since juice in general can be a less than ideal choice for those with blood sugar issues. Juice is made by extracting all of sugar out of the veggie/fruit and taking out the fiber. Fiber is what regulates the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, so when you drink juice the sugar is going to hit your system full force possibly causing peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels.

The best source for hydration is good old H2O.  If you struggle with the flavor (or lack of) try infusing with lemon, berries, mint or cucumbers. You can find some recipes here.

Special Delivery

If you had told me 2 years ago I would be jumping for joy over today's special delivery of 3 lbs of chicken feet I would have laughed out loud. You see, I was a vegetarian, on-again-off-again vegan, for almost 25 years, and loved every minute of it. Mentally at least. Physically, vegetarianism failed me, and it took me a very long time to admit it. Digestive issues, leaky gut, mineral and vitamin deficiency, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism all plagued me starting in my late 20's and although my stress levels and lifestyle had parts to play, my diet had a starring role. 

I was never one of those vegetarians that didn't eat vegetables. In fact I was, and still am, in love with them. I love the way they taste, the way they smell, the way they look. But I often neglected to take into account that you need a lot more to your diet than just veggies and I didn't consistently take the time to properly follow the vegetarian way of eating. 

My nuts and legumes were not always soaked. I often forgot to take supplements. I barely ate any fat. I ate soy. I would not eat any animal products at all for months. I think that it is possible to be pretty healthy as a vegetarian (although I think most, if not all, people do better with meat in their diets) as long as you make sure you are avoiding soy, supplementing regularly, eating eggs and possibly raw dairy, making sure you are getting all of the necessary amino acids by combining foods and preparing your food properly. Most people don't have the time, or want to put the time, into doing this. I was one of those people.

So eventually my body just started to break down. I wish I could say that I made changes as soon as I started feeling crappy...but I didn't.  I had to hit rock bottom. If you have ever been a vegetarian or vegan you'll understand just how hard it is to break away from that life. You become your diet. I WAS vegetarian. And I genuinely cared about the animals I was avoiding eating.  It took a lot of soul searching for me to recognize that the truth was, I was not VEGETARIAN, I was ME and I had to eat what MY body needed. And that was animal products. 

Spiritually, I miss being a vegetarian but physically I am so much stronger and healthier than I have been in years. I've come to accept that I was given this one body and it is my duty to respect it and give it what it needs.  I make sure to take time to visualize the source of everything I eat and give thanks to the animal who gave its life up for me. I always buy from farms where animals were treated with respect and love. And I constantly appreciate the strength and health I have gained from adding animal products into my diet. On that note, I am going to take my special delivery and use them to create some delicious, nourishing, gut-healing bone broth feeling grateful throughout the whole process for the nourishment and health it will be giving me.

Shifting the "Shoulds"

The "Shoulds"  are something I've always struggled with. I Should be working in Corporate America because everyone else I know is (even though it made my soul hurt). I Should be dating this successful guy (even though he was a total ass).  I Should be satisfied with my life (even though I was craving so much more). 

But who created these Shoulds? Surely it wasn't me- because they brought me no joy,  no satisfaction, only misery,  guilt,  and a craving for something else. And life should be about doing things that bring you joy and fulfillment

As I've grown older, I've started focusing on shifting my  Shoulds so that they are based on MY needs. I Should do things that make my soul sing. I Should follow my passions. I Should challenge myself with things that will make me a better person.

Shoulds are necessary. They get you motivated. They initiate change. But they have to be YOUR Shoulds.

This morning as I was getting ready to go to a bootcamp class I realized that I was actually dreading it.  The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and I realized that what I really wanted to do was be outside. So, I ignored that mental dialogue telling me "I Should go to that class" and used the time that would have been spent sitting in rush hour traffic and working out in a windowless room to enjoy a glorious, sun light drenched, oxygen rich 5 mile brisk walk around a glistening lake. And realized that THAT was what I Shouid be doing.

Do you struggle with the Shoulds? What is one Should shift that you've made? How did it affect your day/life?

Eating Fat & Why It Matters

I'm not going to lie- growing up I definitely had a fear of eating fat and it took me a really long time to get past the misconception that eating fat will make you fat and that is was extremely unhealthy.  A child of the 80's and 90's, I grew up during a time when low fat was all the rage. I would have my fill of Snackwells (and by 'my fill' I mean the whole box- because, hey, they're fat free!!!), margarine, and fat-free potato chips which were cooked with Olestra, an ingredient that had a very unappealing effect onthe body- if you've had it, you know what I mean. Back then I would rather die than touch a fat filled avocado or butter or red meat.  But here's the thing.  Fat is good for us. Like really, really good for us and our country's fear of fat has led many people to deny their bodies of one of the most essential nutrients for their health. 

All of our body's functions and our brain health are dependent on the health of our cell membranes and it so happens that these membranes are mostly composed of FAT---75% phospholipids, 20% cholesterol and 5% glycoplipids to be exact. Healthy fats keep our cell membranes strong, flexible and in communication with their surrounding environments. When our membranes are weak or rigid, we are susceptible to disease and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease, heart disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy, premature aging...the list goes on and on.  

It's important to get a bit of an understanding of the role fats play in the makeup of the cell membrane in order to understand just how vital they are. Phospholipids, the largest component of the cell membrane, have a head and two tails---one straight, one crooked. The straight tail is made up of saturated fats, which are fats that are solid at room temperature and can be found in meat, dairy and certain plant products including palm oil, coconut oil and cacao butter.  These fats provide the cell membrane with stability and do not interact much with their environment.

The crooked tail is made up of unsaturated fats which are fats that are liquid at room temperature and can be found naturally in avocados, nuts and vegetable oils. These fats are not as strong as the saturated fat tails, but they interact with the cell's environment and allow the membrane to be flexible.

The phospholipids line up in such a way that a semi-permeable wall is formed which controls which substances are allowed to enter or leave the cell. So you can see how crucial it is to have these phospholipids working optimally, they are pretty much the cell's gate-keepers.

Problems arise when we are not eating enough fat or when we are eating the wrong kinds of fats. When processed fats (mainly hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats and unsaturated fats that have become rancid) are eaten they displace the healthy saturated and unsaturated fats in the phospholipids tails.  The permeability is affected and the membrane becomes rigid, trapping waste in the cell and not letting in healthy materials.

Cholesterol is another word that brings fear to many people's minds. However, it is a major component in the health of the cell membrane and is responsible for maintaining the structure of the membrane walls. Cholesterol molecules are located between membrane phospholipids. They prevent the phospholipids from packing too close together which would result in the membrane lacking permeability, meaning nutrients could not get in and waste could not get out. It is important to make sure you are eating enough cholesterol-rich foods like eggs, liver, butter and red meat to ensure sufficient permeability.

Glycolipids help with communication and cell recognition. These are found in milk, ideally raw milk. Unfortunately the commercial milk that most people drink has been heavily processed so the fat obtained from it has been altered and is pretty unhealthy.

It's important to recognize that cells are the building blocks for our bodies. They provide structure, take in nutrients,  create energy and carry out functions essential for life.  If the cell membrane is compromised our cells won't function properly, our tissues and organs will begin to deteriorate, and our health will decline.

So what are the best ways to keep your cell membrane healthy and functioning at an optimal level?

-eat healthy saturated fats from organic meat, dairy, palm oil, and coconut oil

-eat healthy, natural unsaturated fats from avocados, nuts and olive oil

-drink raw milk

-eat cholesterol rich foods like eggs, liver, butter and red meat

-avoid processed and hydrogenated fats

-avoid unsaturated fats that have not been consistently stored in a cool location, kept out of the light or stored in dark colored bottles

 

 

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

rosemary scrub.jpg

I spent today whipping up a batch of sugar-salt scrubs and they honestly smell good enough to eat! Actually, they are completely edible and if they're good enough to eat they're good enough to put on my skin. Remember that our skin is our largest organ and is completely porous so anything you put on it is instantly absorbed directly into your body. What we put ONTO our body is just as important as what we put INTO our body. Try to buy skincare products made from natural ingredients or better yet, have fun making your own and customizing them with your favorite scents.

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