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Spring Rejuvenation Through Nutrition, Mindfulness and Movement

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Spring is here and with it comes the desire to cleanse and renew. Through nutrition, movement and mindfulness practices we can flush out the staleness from colder months and find gentle rejuvenation. Read on for tips on welcoming in the spring from 3 health and wellness practitioners.


NUTRITION AND WELLNESS- From the perspective of a Nutritional Therapist (me!)

Spring is a time for cleansing and renewal and by adding a few simple practices into your daily routine you will be on your way to a detoxed, rejuvenated you-no brutal colon cleanses required!

Here are 10 simple ways to detox daily:

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, or use an 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- Cut back on, or cut out, alcohol, sugar and poor quality fats. Give your liver some love with liver supporting foods such as beets, celery, asparagus, grapefruit and avocados; cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage; bitter greens such as kale, dandelion greens and chard; and enhancers including spirulina, chlorella, garlic 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. Filtered water is the best option.

7. IMMERSE YOURSELF IN NATURE- Take advantage of the warmer weather with long walks in nature. The sunlight will help your body produce vitamin D which is usually diminished during the shorter winter days.

8. GET YOUR ZZZ’s- Sleep at least seven hours per night, and get some rest anytime your body tells you to.

9. DECREASE YOUR TOXIC LOAD- Decrease your exposure to harmful chemicals and pesticides by choosing organic and natural bodycare, makeup and cleaning supplies.

10. NOURISH WITH A NUTRIENT DENSE DIET- focus on non-processed foods and good fats like avocado, olive oil, butter, coconut oil, nuts and seeds.

My Spring Group Cleanse Workshop is open for enrollment. Join us for 5-weeks of support, accountability and resetting our bodies with real food. Read more and enroll HERE. 


MINDFULNESS- From the perspective of a Holistic Wellness Practitioner.

As the spring is creating a fresh start and the flowers are blossoming, find some space to be kind and gentle with yourself.  Spring is a great time to shift into positive focus, bringing awareness to body and mind.  Begin your day with intention and deep breathing. Maybe you would like to see improvement, or shifting, in certain areas of your life.  

As you begin to tune in to the positive changes you would like to create, notice where your mind goes. Often, our focus falls on the negative part of our life, the part we see as a problem that needs to be fixed. Many of my clients say: “I feel bad in my body, I need to lose weight.”  “I hate my job, I want to quit and do something different.”

We all think like this at times, unwittingly keeping ourselves buried in negativity.  When we focus on our problems and negativity, that is exactly what we create for ourselves. Kindness and gentleness with ourselves is key to any kind of self improvement.  I would like to challenge you to begin to notice these negative thought patterns and shift them. Instead of “I feel bad in my body, I need to lose weight,” how about “I want to focus on healthy eating and exercise, I want to feel good in my body.”  Pretty easy, right?

As we coordinate this practice, your negative self-talk may surprise you. Through life coaching and hypnosis, I can help you shift this focus to the positive changes you want to bring into your life, and to be grateful for all the amazing things you already have.  

Through this work we can create a positive focus for your week, month or year. In the meantime, take some deep breaths outside with your bare feet on the ground and appreciate the beauty around you and all the amazing possibilities that are available to you!

Katy Troy, katytroy.com, is a holistic wellness practitioner in Austin, TX.


MOVEMENT- From the perspective of a Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist (MAT), Progressive Personal Trainer & Massage Therapist

Spring can be a great time to rejuvenate your workouts. Taking your workouts outside to bask in the warming weather and enjoy the blooms and greenery, just may be the trick to help you out of your stuck-inside-the-gym winter woes.

But before you JUMP on that trail, join that BOOTCAMP by the lake or sign up for that upcoming obstacle course race you might want to do a little “spring cleaning” of your current fitness level:

ADDRESS THAT NAG

It’s time to take care of that ache or pain in your back, knee, shoulder, etc. that has been nagging you over the winter months. When one or more muscles around a joint aren’t working properly, other muscles in that area have to pick up extra work. This muscle compensation can cause excessive soreness in and around the joint structure. Scheduling a MAT session can double-check that all those muscles are TURN-ON and doing their FAIR SHARE. This eliminates uneven muscle development in your training and speeds the recovery process to help diminish your muscle soreness as you turn over a new leaf in the outdoors.

GOT SYMMETRY?

This winter did you notice that some movements are easier on the right side and harder on the left or vice versa? Perhaps your right arm doesn’t go as high as your left? When you challenge the body with strength, balance and flexibility exercises, overtime your body will create muscle imbalances. The problem is that the MORE you work out with these “imbalances”, the MORE you reinforce them – essentially getting stronger in the asymmetry! A MAT session with me can break the cycle of getting stronger on strong side and weaker on the weak side. We’ll work through your joint function to reveal these muscle imbalances and balance out your strength, flexibility and balance in your joint function.

PAIN MEANS NO GAINS

The outdoors can inspire us to try new activities, push a little HARDER or go a little LONGER – even if our current winter fitness level isn’t quite ready for these immediate jumps in our training. It can be easy to get a little “too inspired” smelling the flowers on that beautiful hike and going a mile or two too far. After any hard workout, soreness the next day can be pretty normal, but any soreness or excessive tightness that continues after that is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. I don’t believe in the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. Study after study has demonstrated that pain is an indication that we are getting NO GAINS in our training. In fact, over doing it can set us BACK in our training by LOWERING our current fitness level, as our body shuts down and tightens up in an attempt to shield the body against further injury. A MAT session with me can access your muscle efficiency and joint junction and in a few sessions can likely get you back on track with your spring health and fitness goals.

Shanna Leff (shannaleff.com) is a Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist (MAT), Progressive Personal Trainer & Massage Therapist in Austin, TX who focuses on MUSCLE & JOINT function.

11 Natural Ways To Boost Immunity

11 Natural Ways To Boost Immunity

The holiday season is here and with it comes parties, good food, quality time with friends and family, and plenty of celebrations. Unfortunately, it is also the time when many of find ourselves feeling under the weather. Here are some simple things you can incorporate into your daily routine to help boost your immune powers.

22 Tips For A Good Night's Sleep

22 Tips For A Good Night's Sleep

Shorter days are upon us and the time to hunker down and cuddle up in cooler weather is here. With the onset of early darkness comes the opportunity to focus on getting more satisfying and rejuvenating sleep.

As a recovered insomniac I understand how debilitating it is to miss out on a good night's sleep and I've experienced all of the negative side effects it has on mental and physical health.  The good news is that there are many simple hacks you can do that will allow you to have consistent, rejuvenating, quality sleep.

Gentle Daily Detoxing

Gentle Daily Detoxing

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.

Is It Really Just Willpower?

Is It Really Just Willpower?

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.

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

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

"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 about my choices. I don’t feel deprived. I don’t feel guilty. And I don’t feel the need to punish myself for my holiday season choices.

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

What Living With Chronic Stress Did To Me

What Living With Chronic Stress Did To Me


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.  

Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t Sticking

Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t Sticking

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.

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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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.