Welcome to Coach Marisol’s Blog!

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Thank you so much for visiting!  I am so excited to share healthy lifestyle tips with my family, friends and clients.  You can look forward to reaping the rewards of my research, experiments with products and recipes as well my life experiences.

I am often asked why I’ve decided to redirect my life’s work to health and wellness – specifically weight loss and maintenance.

No stranger to the yo-yo cycles of weight loss & gain, confidence & insecurity, I was constantly searching for the newest information and training to help me live the best life.  The type of life that included pleasurable healthy food, a fit body I could be proud of and a sense of comfort in my own skin.  It’s a tall order but it’s a work in progress of course!

After many years of “dieting”, I gradually moved towards a Holistic approach to wellness through online research. I experimented with many forms of eating and exercise in search of a healthy lifestyle. During this time, I have run many high end restaurants that featured local, sustainable ingredients. A few years ago, I moved towards fast casual concept restaurants that featured more affordable menu options that did not match the wholesomeness of the foods I was used to serving. One day, I decided I could not sell another order of cheese fries – I felt like a fraud preaching healthy eating while selling commercial fried foods. That was my turning point. There were too many regular customers that really had no idea how they were hurting themselves. I want to help people get educated and develop healthy habits to make better choices that will keep them happy.

After researching different options for health coaching and nutrition programs, I enrolled in the Institute of Integrated Nutrition in 2015.  I was certified as a Health Coach in 2016.  I have since worked with a handful of clients of varying backgrounds and needs.  My experiences throughout this time have confirmed that the decision to dedicate my life to this field was the right choice for me.  Participating in the transformation of others, although challenging, is exciting, healing and inspiring.  It feels good to wake up and be excited to go to work.  To know that you are making a difference and to be content by living life on your own terms.

Check out more about myself here, my kick ass programs, and my clients’ testimonials

Find me on:

Twitter: @CoachMarisol
Facebook: @YouEmpowered.Life

Email: SolCoach@MarisolBallaro.com

I look forward to hearing from you!

-Coach M.

How To Beat Negative Self-Talk and Limiting Beliefs

A little self-criticism is a normal shared human mental pattern, and can even be healthy for the most part. But, we can also just as easily open the door to that overly vocal “Negative Nelly” voice in our head.  However, if your negative voice is preventing you from doing what you want or need to do in your life, then it has to get booted out the door. This kind of mental chatter has no right to set up shop in your mind.

Deeply held negative beliefs, especially when they’re firmly rooted in your unconscious, stress you out, damage relationships and can greatly limit your potential for health and happiness.  If you’re sick of having the same old pessimistic conversation with yourself, then be sure to try some of the ideas I’ve outlined in this article on how you can shift away from this damaging mindset, and finally release yourself of these limiting beliefs.

What are limiting beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are the little, but persistent voices that convince you that you can’t be or do or have something due to a perceived inadequacy in some area of your life or personality.

Your negative self talk usually goes something like this:

I won’t ever be [this]…

I can’t do [that]…

I don’t have [this]…

I don’t deserve to be/have [this]…

And, one really common one that comes up for many people…

 I am not good enough.

Let’s change up the narrative you may have been having with yourself for a very long time!

Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing limiting beliefs

Your limiting decisions have shaped everything you do, and they have likely prevented you from seeing opportunities and maybe even discouraged you from trying some things at all.  The good news is that it’s totally possible to permanently change a long-held belief — even the ones that are lifelong.

You only perceive what you believe, so your beliefs shape the very world you live in.

 But, when your limiting beliefs come into question, your whole world can experience a shift for the better.

Here are a few ideas to help you silence your inner critic for good!

When you find yourself feeling “stuck”, or repeatedly spinning your wheels on the same speed bumps that life might be throwing your way, it’s always a great idea to seek out the help and guidance of a life coach, counselor or therapist.  I am a big proponent of going to see a therapist. It’s definitely scary at first, but therapy is not just for “other” people.

Some of the most emotionally and mentally healthy people I know have been to counseling. And yes, I have gone to counseling too.  You can find a great online therapist here or do a search for providers in your area.  Too overwhelming right now?  That’s OK.  Call up a trusted friend and let them know what’s going on. When other people know what you are struggling with, it makes your burden a little lighter. This also gives your loved ones the opportunity to speak truth into your life – sometimes, we need to hear it out loud from others.  Accept what the people you trust have to say.  You’re not just looking for praise or affection.  You’re being vulnerable and opening yourself up to help.  This is a step in healing and connecting with the people who matter.  In addition to that, there are several things you can do on your own, in your own time and space…

→ The first step to releasing limiting beliefs is to shift your thinking into AWARENESS

Time to bring those dis-empowering thoughts out of hiding! Once you do that, know that you have choice.  However, just simply being aware or having knowledge of them is not enough, it’s only the first step. You must understand and truly believe that you have a choice about how to react to stressful situations.

→ Possible thinking, not just positive thinking

Positive thinking is one of the most popular strategies out there but sometimes it just doesn’t work.  However, your mind is a powerful thing, and when you fill it with thoughts of what’s possible (not just positive), your mindset will start to shift.  When you believe something IS possible, you will notice options and opportunities coming up for you that would simply not have been noticed if you did not believe it was possible.

With repetition, your positive feelings will intensify, the new neural connections will strengthen, and you’ll start to notice just how awesome this new “win” really feels!  Reminding yourself often of these little wins can further shift your mindset and help you embrace the bright side of your perceived “failures” or shortcomings. It also helps to simply accept that you are perfectly imperfect, just the way you are.

→ If you wouldn’t say it to your friend, don’t say it to yourself

 Your limiting beliefs are assumptions you make about reality that often aren’t true.  Pinpoint the lies.  Ask yourself questions to figure out the root of the negativity. When do you experience these negative thoughts the most? What emotions are tied to your negative thoughts?

Once you have some understanding regarding the root of your negative thoughts, it can be easier to pinpoint the lies that you are believing.

They aren’t helpful, and they certainly don’t serve you or the goals you want to achieve.  Ask yourself: would I say these negative, hurtful and unsupportive words to a friend?

→ Adopt empowering beliefs such as:

 “It is not my job to please everyone else.”

 “Just be me. There will never be anyone else like me.”

 To swap out your limiting belief with a more empowering one, you’ll need to play a little mind game: Convince yourself that the value you thought you were getting from the former limiting belief isn’t worthwhile, and that your new empowering belief can serve to fill this void.

→ Take some time and space that’s all yours

Ensure that you are creating space in your life for these new empowering beliefs. Take action and get into the habit of using your new beliefs as often as possible until they begin to feel comfortable, familiar and routine to you.  Just remember – you have the ability to harness the power of the possible! Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing yourself of limiting beliefs takes commitment, introspection and a good dose of self-confidence to make the necessary changes stick.  For example, If your limiting belief is that you’ll never be able to lose weight and get fit, your new empowering believe can be “I’m making progress everyday”.  Hold this thought and create time to make it real.  It can be a quick flight of stairs at work, a 10 minute walk, committing to a bike ride with a friend or even hiring a health coach.

There’s the old saying that we view ourselves through a much harsher lens than the rest of world does. So, let’s try to bring our own lens back into focus.

 

Recipe: Positively Paleo Pie (comfort food without the guilt!)

Preheat oven to 350°F

Savory bottom layer:

  • 1.25 lbs ground meat (free range preferable)
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded (not peeled)
  • 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 1½ tsp Himalayan pink salt or Celtic grey sea salt
  • 1 tsp chilii powder
  • ½ tsp cumin

Mashed cauliflower topping:

  • 2 small (or 1 large) cauliflower heads
  • 5-6 large roasted garlic cloves*
  • ½ – 1 tsp salt

Optional top layer:

  • ½ cup shredded or crumbled organic, whole milk cheese (your choice!)

How to prepare bottom layer:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and sauté onion + garlic until tender. Add the carrot + zucchini, cook until they start to soften.
  2. Add the ground meat, salt, and spices. Cook until the meat is browned, and very little moisture remains.

How to prepare cauliflower:

  1. Chop the cauliflower heads into small chunks, and steam until they soften – when a fork can easily pierce.Add the steamed cauliflower, roasted garlic and salt to a food processor. On low setting, puree until smooth. It may be necessary to use the tamper if you have one.

Assemble the pie:

  1. To assemble your Positively Paleo Pie, distribute the meat mixture evenly in the bottom of an 8-inch baking dish. Spread cauliflower mixture over the top, and bake for 25 minutes.If you’re adding the optional cheese top layer, sprinkle the cheese on top after you bake it, and then broil it until the cheese turns slightly brown (~3 minutes more in the oven).

*Roasted garlic cloves – done ahead of time.

Using a sharp knife, cut ¼ inch from the top of of a whole garlic bulb to expose the individual cloves. Place bulb (unpeeled) on top of a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top of the bulb, just to moisten. Wrap the bulb with foil and bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Once cooled, the whole cloves should push out easily when pressed from the bottom.

Extra roasted garlic can be used on its own as a spread on bread, crackers, sandwiches, crispbread or veggies (and yes, roasting the garlic really does make a difference in the flavor – magic!).

 

References

https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20683082,00.html

https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/13062-what-are-limiting-beliefs-and-what-causes-them

https://blog.iqmatrix.com/limiting-beliefs

https://theyounghopeful.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/positive-self-talk/

Boost Your Brain Power!

Did you know that food can help you boost your productivity? If you’re missing deadlines, dragging yourself to meetings and can’t focus, your diet may be to blame.  If you want to win the work day, then eating well is one of the best things you can do. A healthy diet can be your secret super power!

It takes awareness, a desire to change, discipline and diligence to to get started on a healthy lifestyle change and keep going – but once you create healthy habits that become a part of your everyday life, everything changes.  The key is to start small.  If all you do is add a green vegetable to your daily diet, you’re making progress.  It’s not that hard.  Add spinach to your morning shake, pack broccoli to dip in your afternoon hummus snack, order a salad for lunch or toss a bunch of chopped greens and veggies in the crock pot soup (at the end).

When you eat healthy, drink water throughout the day, and get good sleep, you are more productive, you get more done in a short amount of time; you feel more satisfied with your work, you handle stress more easily and you can even switch between tasks with ease.   Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to give up happy hour or pizza night, A balanced lifestyle means you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.  Instead, you make choices that you want to make.  If pizza night is when you connect with family and release the stress of cooking, cleaning and planning, then enjoy it!  If happy hour allows you to decompress and share your work week highlights with your team, then keep that penciled in.  If, however, you’re feeling sluggish, irritated, and consumed with negativity, then excessive drinking and unhealthy meals may be a contributing factor.  It’s all about how you incorporate and experience food.  It is meant to nourish your body AND soul.  It’s not just about how it chemically reacts in your body.  Food can be the great connector.  It’s at the center of many special events and life moments.  Acknowledge that and allow this to lead you in the right direction.  Enjoy the splurges but keep your daily habits on point.

Needless to say, an unhealthy diet consisting of chemically laden, sugar filled, processed foods and beverages is detrimental in the short AND long term.  It has been shown by a number of studies to have a negative impact on brain function and cognitive abilities. So if you’re hoping to get the most out of your day, ditch the junk reach for some healthy options.

Here are some ways to eat for health and boost your brainpower:

  • Antioxidants –  boost memory and concentration for up to five hours with antioxidants that help stimulate the blood and oxygen that flows to the brain – blueberries in particular are a delicious way to amp up your breakfast.  Try adding them to your smoothie, making a parfait or just snacking on them fresh or frozen.
  • Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids – wild salmon and other cold water fatty fish are excellent sources.  Don’t do fish?  Go for seeds!  Try Chia, Flax or Hemp.  Add them to your smoothies, cereal, salads.. you get the idea.
  • Protein – A protein rich breakfast wakes up your brain and provides the nutrition your body needs to stay alert and productive until your lunch break.  Boil a dozen eggs on Sunday so you can grab a couple on your way out the door in the mornings.  Need a fast a tasty plant based option?  Try my favorite Super L.O.V. Meal.  Not only is it made with live, raw, organic ingredients, you get 20 grams of pure plant protein to get you through the morning with energy to spare – without distracting thoughts of snacks an hour or two later ($50 discount at checkout).
  • B Vitamins – Get your greens on! Dark leafy greens, particularly spinach, are rich in B vitamins and folate, which feed mental health. And because leafy greens are easy to digest, they don’t divert energy and blood flow away from your brain when you’re trying to work.  You know what to do – blend away!  You can keep a big container of spinach in the freezer.  It won’t go bad and you just toss a handful in your smoothie or even saute from frozen!  Most of you don’t have time to cook or even make smoothies.  I get it.  Here’s a solution: Power Shake.  All your organic, non-GMO greens in a shaker bottle.  Just add water, shake it up and go (yes – the discount will be there at checkout)!
  • Water – So simple yet missing in most of our daily lives.  Drink water!  You don’t have to be thirsty to drink it.  In fact, if you’re thirsty, you’ve already gone too long without it.  Drinking water keeps you hydrated, increases your energy, improves elimination and helps you SLEEP!  Get a cool water bottle, download a water drinking app and make sure you have water available all day.  H2O in the car, at your desk, on the nightstand and in the fridge.  Make it your go-to beverage.  You’ll feel the difference.  I promise!

Conclusion

A healthy, balanced diet will boost your brainpower and help you excel at work and in life.  If the list of good-for-you foods above is foreign or overwhelming, start small. Just one habit per week until you have it down, then move on to the next.  Need a little extra support?  check out my 7 Day Healthy Habits Challenge.  It’s a free DIY way to get started with a little extra support from yours truly.  So which foods will you be incorporating this week?  I’d love to hear it!

 

References:

https://www.medicaldaily.com/dumb-and-dumber-7-foods-negatively-impact-your-brain-health-291764

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/6168870/Blueberry-is-food-for-thought.html

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-plant-sources-of-omega-3s#section5

https://blog.puriumcorp.com/2016/05/27/how-foods-affect-your-mood/

https://www.upskilled.edu.au/skillstalk/archive/10-brain-foods-to-help-you-boost-your-productivity.aspx

https://www.monster.ca/career-advice/article/brain-boosting-foods-to-excel-at-work

What Makes Broccoli and Kale Superfoods?

It’s that time again.  With back-to-school and holidays around the corner, we’re getting back into routines.  You may have joined a gym, started a new eating plan, signed up for coaching or joined a weight loss program.  I love this!  I think of the Fall season as a kick start for revving up my healthy routine.  I especially love enjoying healthy and hearty soups, roasts and baked goods.

You may have heard me talk about superfoods in the past.  I’ll admit, they are one of my passions, and when we’re talking about getting back into routines, they should definitely be a part of yours.  There are so many available to us that range from common to unusual.  Today we’re featuring our old stand-by’s – Broccoli and Kale!  These guys are often touted to be “superfoods.”  Superfoods have unique qualities.  They are:

  • Especially high in dense nutrients
  • Adaptogens
  • Polyphenols
  • Have higher than average levels of antioxidants
  • They posses medicinal values often higher than regular foods

These green bad boys really are amazingly healthy for you.  If you’re wondering what exactly is in these (common) powerhouses that makes them so “super,” I’ve dived into the research to give you some nerdy reasons to make these a staple in your diet.

To start, they’re both considered cruciferous vegetables related to each other in the Brassica family. This family of super plants also includes cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts.  These superfoods have a ton of nutrition, and other health-promoting compounds, they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to cook too.  Talk about bang for your buck!

Super Nutrition

Broccoli and kale are full of nutrition: vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc. They’re both considered to be nutrient dense which is a measure of nutrients per calorie – and these both have a lot!

100 grams of broccoli (about 1 cup, chopped) contains:

  • 34 calories
  • 8 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 6.6 g carbohydrates, and 2.6 g fiber.
  • Good source of B vitamins (when eaten raw)
  • >100% of your daily vitamin C
  • Almost 100% of your vitamin K
  • Good source of manganese
  • Traces of all the other vitamins and minerals

One cup of loosely packed kale contains:

  • 8 calories
  • 7 g protein, 0.2 g fat (including omega-3), 1.4 g carbohydrates, and 0.6 g fiber.
  • Contains pre-vitamin A (beta-carotene).
  • Several B vitamins, including B1, B3, B5, B6, and folate (B9)
  • Rich in vitamins C and K
  • Lots of minerals including manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, sulfur, copper, phosphorus, and calcium

As you can see, these two foods contain a lot of nutrients.  NOTE: Too much vitamin K may interact with certain blood-thinning medications. If you’re taking one of these medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before incorporating too much of these superfoods into your diet.

Super Health-Promoting Compounds

Broccoli and kale also contain other health-promoting compounds.  They tend to taste a bit bitter – but that bitterness equals healthfulness!  This bitter flavor is from some of the health-promoting compounds in these super plant foods. Things like glucosinolates (e.g., sulforaphane and isothiocyanates) and polyphenol flavonols.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are a few different types of kale – curly kale, dinosaur kale, red/purple kale etc. The different colors result from slight differences in the amounts of the compounds these plants contain.

One of the main active ingredients in cruciferous vegetables are glucosinolates. These antioxidant compounds are very useful to help detoxify and protect against cancer.

FUN FACT: It’s the precursors to glucosinolates that are in cruciferous vegetables, not the compounds themselves. When fresh broccoli and kale are eaten (or even chopped/blended) raw the active compounds are produced. *This fact is incorporated into a trick I use in this week’s recipe*

NOTE: Glucosinolates may affect iodine absorption and thyroid health, particularly in people prone to thyroid disease. In this case, you may not have to ditch these superfoods altogether – just cook them first.

These superfoods also contain flavonols like kaempferol and quercetin. Flavonols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and they decrease your risk of cancer.

Kale also contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are known for promoting eye health and are protective against many cancers.  When cooked, kale contains another anti-cancer compound called indole.

Conclusion

We should be taking advantage of our ability to incorporate cruciferous superfoods – broccoli and kale into our daily routine. They are packed with nutrition and have a whole array of health-promoting compounds.  Almost everyone should be eating these regularly. Just be cautious – if you’re taking blood-thinning medications; and, if you have thyroid issues, cook them first.

PS:  If you need to cook them:

  • Simply toss some broccoli with olive oil and your favorite seasoning and roast for an easy and delicious side dish or snack.
  • Steam broccoli and portion out in baggies.  Keep in fridge.  Take to work with your favorite healthy dressing or dip and enjoy as a mid-morning or afternoon snack
  • Chop up kale and/or broccoli and add to your saute’s, soups, crock pot recipes, stir frys (you get the idea)

Incorporating these mighty greens daily will help improve digestion, detoxification, and whole body nourishment.

Do you, or anyone you know, absolutely love (or hate) these superfoods? Do you have a favorite recipe to share? Let me know in the comments below!

Broccoli & Kale Super-Soup (Serves 4)

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-3 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 2 large handfuls kale
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 stalks broccoli chopped
  • 8 cups broth
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Instructions: Saute garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot. At the same time, do the following steps:

  • Add half of the raw kale, celery, and broccoli to your high-speed blender (in that order). Cover with up to 4 cups of broth and blend.
  • Pour soup into the pot with the sauteed garlic. Do the same for the other half of the veggies and broth.
  • Heat soup and simmer for up to 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Add tahini and sea salt. Stir well.

Serve & enjoy!

Tips:

  • If you want the soup to be extra creamy, you can re-blend after it’s heated.
  • Season to taste.  Add chilies, spices or even coconut milk to boost flavor and nutrition.
  • Make a double batch and freeze single serving containers so you have lunch on the run when you’re just too busy to prep.

 

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/wiki/broccoli/

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2871?manu=&fgcd=&ds=

https://www.thepaleomom.com/wiki/kale/

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/kale

https://www.thepaleomom.com/kale-superfood-and-delicious-too/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-broccoli-receptor-our-first-line-of-defense-2/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/second-strategy-to-cooking-broccoli/

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/crucifeous-vegetables#1

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/broccoli#section1

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-kale

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_phytochemicals_in_food#Polyphenols

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotenoid#Properties

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucosinolate#Humans_and_other_mammals

4 Easy Ways to Beat Fatigue… Naturally!

Although summer weather is still in full force (in California anyway), for many, this balmy season has come to an end.  Students have done their back to school shopping, calendars are already jam-packed, and all those fun and lazy summer days have been documented and tucked away on Instagram.

For many, fall is an exciting time.  The air starts to get crisp, the leaves turn beautiful shades of fiery orange and all those delicious (and healthy) pumpkin recipes start to fill the house with smells of cinnamony goodness.  Don’t worry, I’ll be posting recipes soon!  The downside of this time of year is that a staggering number of people get overwhelmed with the responsibilities that autumn and the following holiday season bring.  We’re back to school, work projects and deadlines start to accumulate, the stress of the upcoming holidays start to nag at you and we are constantly on the go.  A steady state “busyness” is the norm, and we’re always running from one responsibility to the next – literally! So, it’s no wonder that physical fatigue is such a common complaint.  The good news is that there are some really simple (and natural) ways to increase your energy so you can keep up with your busy life.

Get off the blood sugar roller coaster

One of the simplest ways we can boost our energy is to stabilize blood sugar. When we don’t eat enough food throughout the day or when we eat foods that are higher in sugar, our energy levels bottom out.

You can balance your blood sugar, and boost your energy naturally by:

  • Eating every 3-4 hours gives your body the nutrients and fuel it needs to keep your blood sugar – and energy levels steady.  Dedicate one day per week to shop and prep healthy snack bags and lunches.  You can easily prep for the whole week in a few hours.  Promise! Hint: Pull out the slow cooker and make a crock pot recipe while you simultaneously bake/roast stuff in the oven and prep veggies/create dressings etc. on the counter.  Bonus – the rest of your week flows and you have healthy food on hand when you’re tired and cranky (and more likely to make a poor nutritional choice).  Need a little help?  Pinterest is a great tool for looking up meal prep and healthy recipes.  No time for research?  CLICK HERE for my condensed guide to Healthy Meals & Snacks (no email required).  The recipes are simple and the guide includes a Pantry Stocking list.  If this is still too much work, I recommend a sugar-free, healthy, organic, non-GMO nutritional shake for when you’re running out the door or just need a pick me up in the middle of the day.  THIS ONE has clean protein for the prefect meal replacement (never skip breakfast again!).  This one is my favorite GREEN DRINK for an energy boost and nourishment.
  • Consuming foods that are low on the glycemic index (think fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy fats) instead of the higher sugar white breads, pastas and prepackaged snacks.
  • Eating protein with every meal to slow down the release of carbohydrates into your bloodstream. Protein is broken down and released slower so you’re less likely to have a blood sugar spike and subsequent crash.  This is my absolute favorite protein supplement that keeps me full (and tones muscle) throughout the day.  You can take it between meals to keep your hunger in check or in addition to a healthy salad, green juice or lighter meal.

You like to move it, move it!

When you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is exercise. However, as hard as it can be to get your butt off the couch, it’s one of the best things you can do to fight fatigue.  And, it turns out that you don’t even have to commit to a long workout!  A California State University study concluded that even a brisk 10-minute walk can increase your energy for up to 2 hours.  So when you feel that afternoon slump coming on, skip the coffee and lace up your walking shoes instead. It feels good to get some of that crisp autumn air in your lungs and you can allow your mind to wander for those few minutes you’re out.  A purposeful walk outdoors has a way of helping to clear the mind and in many cases, solve problems.  I think the change of scenery, quiet time alone and getting the blood pumping all works together to help release stress and make you feel refreshed.  Plus – doesn’t it feel good to just get away from it all even for just 10-15 minutes?

Up your sleep game

It may seem obvious that lack of sleep causes fatigue. However did you know that the quality of your sleep can have an even bigger impact on your daily energy? Even slight disturbances in our sleep can affect how rested we feel the next day.

Here are a couple of tips for a more restful sleep:

  • Avoid tech in the bedroom, or within 1-2 hours of bedtime. Even the small amount of light, especially the blue light emitted from devices, interrupts your body’s circadian rhythm. Your brain still thinks it’s daytime and won’t wind down.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day – or avoid all together if this is a problem for you
  • Try to create a regular sleep/wake schedule to help your body develop a sleep routine = good sleep hygiene.
  • If you have to get up in the middle of the night, don’t turn on the lights
  • Dab a bit of calming lavender essential oil on your temples before bed or put a few drops on your pillow. Breathe in the calm.
  • Need supplemental help?  This healthy, organic, non-GMO Sleep Pack with have you dreaming tonight.  I use and love it but even more impressive, I’ve heard feedback from graveyard shift nurses who swear by it!

Drink up!

Before you reach for that coffee or energy drink to perk you up, consider switching to plain old water. While caffeine is usually the first choice for busting out of an energy slump, it can be dehydrating.  And then there’s dehydration. You know our bodies are mostly water – right?Even mild dehydration impairs our concentration, decreases our mood and zaps our energy.

How do you know if you may be dehydrated?  Check the color of your urine. If it’s the color of straw, you’re good to go. If it’s a darker yellow (or worse – orange) color, it’s time to drink up.  Remember, the quality of our water is important too.  Shoot for spring water when you can and at the very least, make sure your water is filtered.  The water we consume significantly effects  our ability to achieve optimal health on all levels!

If you’re still craving a caffeine hit, try the Energizing Matcha Smoothie recipe below.  Matcha gives a longer lasting energy boost than coffee. It doesn’t hit you hard and then cause you to crash. Plus the recipe really is delicious!  PS: If you use the recommended protein powder, you may not need the frozen banana as the fabulously healthy protein is naturally sweetened with Monk Fruit.

Energizing Vanilla Matcha Smoothie

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (your choice, no added sugar but this one’s the best!)
  • 1-2 tsp matcha green tea powder (start w/less if you’re new to matcha – it packs a kick!  Find a less expensive version on Amazon.com)
  • ½ frozen banana
  • Ice cubes (optional)
  • 1 large handful of spinach or kale (optional, but recommended)

Directions:  Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until desired smoothness is achieved. Sip and enjoy!

Tip: Keep sandwich baggies with chopped banana & spinach in the freezer to prepare this simple latte even faster!  You can also make almond milk ice cubes!

 

PS: If you choose to try any of the products linked in this post, you will not only receive a generous discount of $50 or 25% off (whichever is higher) the entire order, you are helping me support my family and my business.  Thank you so much!

References

https://www.gisymbol.com/about-glycemic-index/

https://web.csulb.edu/misc/inside/archives/vol_58_no_4/1.htm

https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/what-good-quality-sleep

http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/19/bad-mood-low-energy-there-might-be-a-simple-explanation/

Is Work Stress Causing Inflammation in Your Body?

Funny story (well, not really), I was under stress while writing this article.  I had limited time and was multitasking (yes – I was aware of the irony) – answering calls, having breakfast and trying to keep my list of to-dos in mind.  I am also working on healing a back injury (bulged disc) and two important relationships.  The longer I sit, the more uncomfortable I get.  The more emotional labor I put into the relationships, the more tired and achy I get.

As I was learning about the connection between stress and inflammation in the body, I realized that if I continue the way I’m going, what should have been a 4-5 week recovery, will continue to stretch to an indefinite (chronic) process of managing my physical pain.  So this article was written in response to a personal issue that probably resonates with most high functioning, driven individuals.  If you’re reading my blog – that means you.  So, is work or life stress causing inflammation in YOUR body?

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is typically thought of as the body’s primary response to physical injury or infection (the affected area can be tender, painful, swollen, red and/or show other symptoms).  However, there is now substantial evidence that psychological stress can trigger significant increases in inflammatory activity.  I’ve been experiencing this myself.  It’s clear that I will not be able to rehabilitate my inflamed back until I heal the emotional stress I am under.

Sadly, stress has been downplayed for ages now. Psychology is thriving, and people still refuse to realize that stress is dangerous. This is why it’s important to question if your job’s positives are outweighing the negatives.  Workplace stress is psychological and  if you notice you’re suffering from it early, the effects won’t have time to develop into something more serious.

Signs That Your Work is Stressing You Out

  • Bad Mood, Negative Feelings and Depression – when you’re feeling negative, your mind is telling you that you deserve more.  If all you do is respond to tasks without being able to showcase your skills, you create unfulfilled expectations (of being in a normal environment where people can acknowledge you).  Recognize these feelings and talk to someone.  
  • Increased Sensitivity and Aggression – when you’re under a lot of pressure, getting sh*t done is more important than anything else, including being nice to people.  Your mind just doesn’t have the energy to control your emotions.  Even if you are under pressure, you can see yourself being nasty.  Use the power of deep breathing when you catch yourself going off the rails.  Following the golden rule isn’t always easy but it is always worth your while.  Taking 5 deep breaths takes less than a minute and you can do it anywhere.  Who knows, you may even develop a meditation practice because it feels so good!
  • Loss of Motivation – to have a constant flow of motivation, you need to be able to conquer problems.  Thinking on your feet and putting out fires all day is exhausting on it’s own.  Add to that a heavy work load and long hours and you’re sure to lose your motivation.  If you have a mentor, this is a great time to seek guidance from her.  If not, find a person you trust to speak freely with.  Sometimes, getting all the stuff in our head out verbally helps us to think more creatively and find solutions.  Come back to your “why”.  Restart from a place of inspiration to get yourself back on track.
  • Poor Memory – When you’re living under constant stress in your workplace, you tend to overthink more and sleep less.  A good memory is directly related to sleeping well and having a balanced life.  In order to create balance, try writing a list of “To-Dos” at the end of your work day that need your immediate attention when you’re back the next morning.  Practice letting that list live in your office and not in your head.  After all, you can’t do anything about those things until tomorrow anyway.  Drink plenty of water throughout the day.  It energizes you and also helps you sleep better.  Create a sleep routine that helps you unwind so you sleep deep.  It’s amazing what a rested brain can conquer!
  • Bad Eating Habits – I’ll be honest, as healthy and mindfully as I try to eat, this one gets me when I’m super stressed.  I totally get how breaking up the day with some delicious comfort can feel soothing.  By working long hours and dealing with very difficult tasks, your eating will take a hit. Eating fast food, eating too many sweets to regain energy or plain skipping meals are all major problems. If you can’t calm down or regulate your situation at work right away, fight it.  At the beginning of the week, prepare healthy meals and bring them to work each day. Healthy food will bring you energy, and you will be able to do more.  Does that feel too daunting?  One of my favorite fast foods is my nutrient dense shake.  Even when I don’t have time to shop and cook (or even go out to eat), I know I’m getting my organic veggies, protein and carbs to keep me going.  This one’s my favorite.

Conclusion

Large bodies of evidence indicate that stress can activate inflammatory response in the brain as well as in the body.  Americans spend more time in their work environment than any other.  Work related stress is a problem that can be identified and repaired.  Be on the lookout for the warning signs above.  Use the tips I mentioned to focus on your physical, emotional and nutritional needs in order to keep stress at bay.  If you are inflamed, check out this article for simple nutritional tips to minimize your inflammation.

If you are stressed and looking for relief, a supplement that I find very effective is CBD Oil.  There is plenty of scientific evidence that show how CBD can alleviate stress, inflammation and pain (among other symptoms).  When I first starting using it, I noticed that things that used to turn me off just stopped bothering me so much.  I was able to sleep deeply AND I became a much calmer person.  When I got injured, I was so overwhelmed with pain and frustration that I steered away from my healthy habits.  Once I re-centered myself and started to get back to drinking lots of water, incorporating my nutrition shakes, breathing exercises and my CBD oil (among other recommendations from my doctor), I started to feel like my normal self again.  I let go of the negative feelings and thoughts I was holding on to and I was able to relax again.  If you are interested in trying CBD, this one is my favorite and you can order it HERE.

Please seek professional help if your stress is causing severe depression or anxiety.  It may just be time to make a professional change.

 

Referrences

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006295/

http://health.facty.com/ailments/stress/10-signs-of-workplace-stress/?utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=c-search&utm_term=%2Bworkplace%20%2Bstress&utm_campaign=f-h-10-signs-of-workplace-stress&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2-_VgLym3AIVkv5kCh0RQATfEAAYBiAAEgLzK_D_BwE

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5476783/

https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2011.300270

https://healthprep.com/conditions/5-common-symptoms-of-inflammatory-disease/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=270843795&utm_content=1152288321184590&utm_term=what%20is%20inflammation%20in%20the%20body

Can your boss heal your gut?

We would never put our health in the hands of our employers, however, there are ways that our workplaces can contribute to our wellness (positively & negatively).  Last week we talked about leaky gut.  If you missed it, leaky gut is a chronic illness that affects more than just your digestion.  Why you ask?  It’s been proven that there is a gut/brain connection (which is why the gut is also referred to as “the second brain”).  It makes sense though, doesn’t it?  Ever had a “gut feeling” about something?  Your gut health is connected to your stress and anxiety levels, mood, immunity and all the other amazing functions of our wonderful bodies.

Regardless of what you do, work can be a stressful place.  Although most of our gut health is connected to person habits like diet, activity levels and stress management, there is also a correlation between stressors at work that contribute to poor gut health.  Have you ever rushed through lunch to get back to working on your deadline?  Notice how unhappy your belly is when you’re stressed out?  It’s because the process of digestion stops when you are in fight or flight.  Your body can’t digest food and be stressed at the same time.  Diffusing tension and lightening the mood in the workplace can be done with a few simple changes and a committed team.

Since we spend about a third of our day in the workplace, there is a big opportunity for employers and leaders to make an impact on our wellness.  Today, I’d like to talk about some simple ways to positively impact our work environment.  If you’re a boss, this post is for you!  If you’re not, feel free to suggest these ideas yourself – go on, be the hero!  Here are a few simple, actionable steps to implement:

Think Holistically

A positive work experience can impact nearly all aspects of our over all well-being.  When people think of workplace wellness, what comes to mind (most often) is weight loss and physical activity based challenges and maybe some lunch & learns.  While hosting nutrition based learning tools and challenges is a step in the right direction, we need to ensure employee engagement.  Have you ever felt awesome about participating in a work event when the host doesn’t even know who you are or how amazing you are at your job?  Hence, we need more than this – but our needs are basic aren’t they?  This leads me to gratitude.  Human beings have a basic need to be acknowledged.  Saying thank you for a job well done can be impactful.  Show your gratitude!  Whether you’re the boss or not, acknowledge the work that’s being done.  Do it privately and personally.  Do it publicly.  Do it frequently.  Sending a personalized message in person, in a handwritten note or even electronically can change someone’s day.  Recognizing an employee or coworker in a meeting, in company newsletters or other social events enhance the dynamics between employees which elevates the workplace culture.  Be present.  Acknowledge the strengths, passion and commitment of those around you.  I guarantee everyone will be lifted and the workplace can transform from a stressful environment to an equally intense environment fueled by passion, commitment and contentment.

Tap Into the Community

We all have lives outside of work.  Many of us are involved in community activities whether we’re involved in a charity, participate in special events or spend time fostering animals.  There are as many ways to contribute to our society as there are colors in the spectrum.  Many of us on the other hand, do not feel like there is enough time in the day to do even more work when we’re already feeling swamped with everyday life.  Even so, there are bound to be causes that are near and dear to our hearts.  The leadership in your organization can easily tap into community outreach.  Whether it’s a monetary donation, a focus on the awareness of a specific movement in the community or by enlisting participation in events.  Think 5ks to raise money, community clean-ups,  building projects (like a playground).  If your employer offered you a way to do good in the community where you live (on company time), wouldn’t you find your work just a bit more purposeful?  I know I would.  It helps to create a sense of community in the workplace and allowing the employees to choose their charitable causes empowers them to find their purpose (in life AND within the organization).

Have Fun!

Work is and should be serious of course but a little fun never hurt anyone.  As a matter of fact, it’s good for your health!  Having fun at work not only reduces stress, it boosts serotonin and allows for a deeper connection with your coworkers.  Having fun also allows for improved memory, concentration and sleep.  So how do we do it?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Joke of the day – whether you tell it at the beginning of a meeting, during your lunch break with your coworkers or as a company wide email thread, starting off with a giggle lightens the mood and allows people to drop their guard – even if it’s just momentarily.
  • Gather your co-workers for the “Joy of Work” hour (or happy hour).  Everyone must talk about something good at work. Take turns telling stories about the things that make work a joy. Each person should contribute ideas on how to make work more fun.
  • Put fun things and activities in the staff room.  This allows people to take their mind off of the seriousness of work for a short period, so they come back to work with a more positive and balanced perspective.  Try Nerf guns, Wii dance or bowling game or even a karaoke machine!
  • Celebrate Staff Birthdays once per month with a healthy pot luck, silly games and story telling by or about the birthday peeps.
  • Encourage staff to leave work behind at the end of the day.  Employees shouldn’t be so consumed with work that it affects their family life and leisure activities. Find fun ways for employees to “unload” at the end of the day or week. Create a ritual like writing a “to do” list and posting it on the board. By doing this, you commit to not thinking about the things on the list until the next day.

Conclusion

Health and wellness initiatives in the workplace are fantastic if you have them.  Whether you do or don’t, implementing a holistic approach to health, tapping into your community and bringing on the fun can and will not only positively impact your work day and the company culture as a whole, it will impact your health – and possibly start to heal your gut!  I encourage you to find ways to upgrade your day by using some of the suggestions above and coming up with your own.  If you’re lucky enough to work in a positive, fun and collaborative environment, I’d love to hear how it’s done in your neck of the woods.  Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments!

 

Referrences

https://heelthatpain.com/8-health-benefits-of-having-fun/

https://www.agcareers.com/newsletters/creating.htm

https://kellywc.com/employee-well-being-its-more-than-just-kale-and-crossfit/

 

 

 

 

 

What to do About a Leaky Gut

“All disease begins in the gut.”  -Hippocrates

Our microbiome or “the gut” as it’s commonly known is referred to as the “second brain” by scientists.  It’s responsible for 80% of our immune response.  Plus most nutrient absorption and cleansing take place in a healthy microbiome.  This means that everything from energy to weight loss to mental clarity to digestion can be traced back to a healthy microbiome.

Whether you are a professional racing to meet deadlines, a parent running a household, a student managing a class schedule or retired,  Keeping your gut healthy is imperative for cognitive function, mood, digestion and even mental health.

Due to the increasing toxicity of our food supply and the availability and advertising of unhealthy, processed foods wherever we go (I mean do I really need to buy cookies, chips and soda  at Staples?) gut issues have become ubiquitous.  A common ailment in the United states is Leaky Gut.

Leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability. It’s when the cells lining our intestines (gut) separate a bit from each other. They’re supposed to be nice and tightly joined to the cell beside it; this is to allow certain things into our bodies (like nutrients), and keep other things out.

This is healthy villi – keeping toxins out

When the tight junctions between intestinal cells weaken it can cause the gut to be more permeable – leakier – than normal. When this happens, it allows things into our bodies that should not get in; things like large pieces of protein, toxins, or even bacteria and waste.  When substances that shouldn’t be there get into our bloodstream through the “leaks” in our gut, our immune system kicks in. These leaked bits mimic a food allergy, and our body reacts accordingly. It mounts a response to try to attack the invaders, and this causes inflammation.

Leaky gut is associated with a number of issues including food allergies, celiac disease, autoimmune diseases (e.g., Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Hashimoto’s, asthma, type 1 diabetes, acne, eczema), joint pain, and neurological problems (e.g., multiple sclerosis). Some research shows that leaky gut might contribute to or worsen these conditions.

While some of our gut permeability may have a genetic factor, there are lifestyle habits that contribute as well. Too much sugar or alcohol, and not enough fiber can make things worse. Even certain compounds in foods (e.g., gluten, lectins, casein, fructose) and food additives (e.g., MSG) can weaken tight junctions.  A toxic GMO food supply also endangers our gut health.

So, what should we eat, and ditch, for optimal gut health?

Avoid or reduce these

There are certain foods that irritate the gut or can cause those loosened junctions to get even looser.  Some of these include:

  • Foods that you’re allergic to
  • Foods with added sugar
  • Foods containing MSG
  • Foods with sugar alcohols (e.g., sorbitol)
  • Gluten-containing grains (e.g., wheat, rye)
  • High-lectin foods (e.g., grains, legumes)
  • Nightshades (e.g., eggplant, peppers, tomato)
  • Dairy (which contains casein & lactose)
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Processed foods

It’s a good idea to reduce these foods and if leaky gut is a confirmed issue for you, avoid them until the leaky gut has been addressed.

Eat more of these

There are also a bunch of foods that support gut health, including the intestinal cells themselves, as well as our friendly gut microbes. Many of these also reduce inflammation.  Things like:

  • Probiotic-rich fermented foods (e.g., sauerkraut, kimchi)
  • Prebiotic fibre-rich foods which help our gut microbes produce butyrate (e.g., leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds)
  • Glutamine-rich foods (e.g., bone broth, meat)
  • Zinc-rich foods (e.g., shellfish, organ meats, and pumpkin seeds)
  • Quercetin-rich foods (e.g., citrus, apples, onions)
  • Curcumin-rich turmeric
  • Indole-rich foods (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens)

These are all nutritious foods that can help with gut health and overall health.  It’s not just what you eat that can affect your gut. Other lifestyle habits can help too.

Try:

  • Supplementing with a gut healing product like Biome Medic to remove toxic chemicals from your body, boost nutrient absorption and regrow the vili (the cells that separate and leak toxins in your body)
  • Eating slower and chewing better to help break down food better
  • Eating when hungry, and stopping when satisfied
  • Going to the bathroom when you need to (don’t hold it for longer than necessary)
  • Getting more high-quality sleep
  • Better stress management

All of these are great healthy habits to get into, gut problems or not.

Conclusion

To help keep our guts (and our bodies) in optimal condition, there are a lot of foods we should eat (and lots we should reduce).  Sticking with nutrient-dense unprocessed foods is always a good plan, whether you have gut issues, other concerns, or feel completely healthy.  Reducing GMO laded foods will protect you from the toxic chemical glyphosate (if it’s not organic, it’s GMO, round-up crops from Monsanto) which is linked to many illnesses including leaky gut.

And, don’t forget the importance of a healthy lifestyle like good eating habits, sleep, and stress management!

Which of these foods have you added or reduced? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Recipe (Gut supporting): Braised Greens with Turmeric

Serves 4

2 bunches leafy greens (kale, chard, collards), washed and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

½ tsp turmeric

2 dashes salt and pepper

Minced garlic – to your liking (optional)

Chopped Onion – to your liking (optional)

Instructions

Juice the lemon and add spices.  Set aside.  Heat the olive oil onion and garlic (if using) in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the greens and a splash of water.  Sauté until the greens start to wilt.  Add lemon juice & spices and stir.  Remove from heat.  Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Serve this as a side dish (hot or cold), add to soup or a wrap.

 

References:

http://gmorepair.com/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/8-nutrients-for-leaky-gut/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/leaky-gut-syndrome/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/leaky-gut-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you-2017092212451

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health

http://www.navacenter.com/community/article-library/browse/2015/06/01/your-body’s-second-brain—the-importance-of-gut-health

Creating a Mindset for Health

We know that in order to succeed in work, life and everything else, we need to be healthy.  Without the foundation of health, everyday challenges are even more difficult.  So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference?

That thing is mindset.  Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. We have control over our mindset and research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.

I love circling back to mindset when I or my clients fall off track.  Our mindset is cultivated by our goals, intentions and emotional agility.  It’s the answer to the question “Why?”.  Understanding your “Why?” allows you to see possibility, support and purpose.  It’s not only powerful for building general health, but particularly for creating a satisfying professional life.  Whether you’re a part-time team member in an organization or someone with a prominent leadership role,  adjusting your mindset  can be the answer to the work rut you’ve been in.

 

Very interesting health mindset study

Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study.  Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people’s health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers.  What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren’t less active!

How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true?  There are a couple of ideas why. One is that maybe if we feel like we’re less active, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn’t good for our mental or physical health. Second, there may be a bit of a mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes.

Researchers don’t know why, but what matters is that there is a good mindset. So, let me give you a couple of strategies to boost your mindset for health.

 

Health mindset strategy 1 – Aim for good enough

Almost no one eats perfectly seven days a week. It’s inevitable that obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything we eat or drink isn’t necessarily a great mindset to have (I know – I’ve been there).  It can bring on binging, shame, and guilt – none of these are great ways to get healthy. We want to get healthier by making better choices and building better habits. And these are usually best done incrementally – one step at a time.  So, instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, why not try aiming for good enough to empower ourselves to make better choices, instead of perfect choices?

A simple way to do this is to set small actionable goals.  Yes, it would be great if we could all start going to the gym for an hour per day.  If this is your goal, you’re better off trying to get to the gym for 30 minutes 3 days per week.  Or, aim for 10,000 steps per day.  Take the stairs.  You get the idea. If you set smaller goals that you can actually achieve, you are more likely to turn them into habits that get you the results you want …and keep them!

 

Health mindset strategy 2 – Stop making trade-offs

When you try to earn a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you’re making a trade-off. You’re telling yourself that, as long as you’re good most of the week, you can go wild on the weekend.  And that’s not awesome because the mindset is jumping from one extreme to the other.  This is also known as a scarcity mindset (it stems from fear).  You’re controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. Just live as though you’re trying to do well every single day. Your mindset has to match your actions. Otherwise, your brain will be in a never-ending game of tug-of-war with your body.  You’re doing your best, and that’s good enough.

Want to adopt an abundance mindset instead?  First off, you must drop your guard.  Having an abundance mindset stems from confidence and security.  It means that you’re open to trying new things and expect that there will be failure along the way, and this failure is GOOD.  Looking at it this way means that you can appreciate the learning curves and eventually understand what works for you.

 

Conclusion

I don’t care how healthy you eat, how much you work out or how much you weigh. You’re not your healthiest until your mindset is healthy too.  Mindset can be a powerful tool for better physical and emotional health. Nurturing a healthy mindset, however, will take some practice.  It means being kind to yourself.  Accept that you are  flawed human being and use your motivation and goal setting to make incremental changes that lead to a healthy changes.  These adjustments become habits that beget more positive changes.  It’s simple but not necessarily easy.  Especially if you’ve been making decisions out of fear rather than confidence.  Thinking positively, and dropping the black/white and good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals and there’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.

Want to start with small changes that can impact your life in a big way?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Surround yourself with positive, healthy people (if they are not in your immediate circle, it’s time to get out there.  Try Meetup.com, Facebook events etc.)
  • Plan a free day outdoors once per week (plan a beach day, BBQ or a simple neighborhood walk)
  • Prep healthy snacks for the work week – even if you miss a meal or make a bad choice, you’ll have healthy stuff to bring you back to your goals
  • Pull out the crock pot and make a crock pot recipe while you cook tonight’s dinner.  Now you have 2 choices for healthy lunches or dinners for the week!  I love to cook once, eat twice.
  • Replace processed foods/snacks with fruit, veggies, nuts and other whole foods – nothing like an apple with macadamia nuts for a hunger buster at 11am
  • Drink water throughout day
  • Meditate or sit quietly while you breath deeply for 5 minutes per day
  • Read or Listen to self improvement or healthy lifestyle podcasts/books
  • Drink a Green Juice every day!

How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Recipe (Morning Mindset Refresher): Chia Lemon Water

Serves 1

1 tbsp chia seeds

½ lemon, sliced

filtered water

Instructions: Add the chia seeds & lemon to your favorite water bottle. Fill to top with water. Shake before drinking. Enjoy!

 

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mind-over-matter-how-fit-you-think-you-are-versus-actual-fitness-2017081412282

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/making-health-decisions-mindsets-numbers-and-stories-201112123946

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/weekend-overeating

https://workweeklunch.com/healthy-mindset/

Beware of These “Healthy” Foods

It seems everywhere we turn there’s yet another contradiction about what is healthy and what is unhealthy. We know that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” diet that will work for everyone but there are some general guidelines that can help most people to achieve better health. For instance: avoiding processed foods and including more whole foods in your diet is a great place to start! You might have swapped out some of the obvious unhealthy culprits like chips, burgers, and soda from your diet. But what you might not realize is that even some of the healthier alternatives you’re eating might not be so healthy after all.

Here are some “healthy” foods that may actually be bad for your health:

Veggie Burgers

Are you trying to cut back on meat? For those trying to avoid or reduce meat in their diet, veggie burgers might seem like the obvious healthy choice. But beware! Those patties may not have so many vegetables after all. Many are packed with fillers and additives to give them that realistic burger-like texture, leaving little room for real vegetables. Before you buy your next veggie burger, check the ingredients to make sure that vegetables top the list.  There are a few good ones out there but if you can’t pronounce the ingredients list, it’s best to leave it.  Check you local health food store, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Fish

Fish is another food that you may be adding in to your healthy diet. But there is a lot to be aware of when it comes to choosing fish. First, it’s a good idea to avoid farmed fish altogether. Yes, avoid all fish that is farmed. Not only are fish in these farming environments fed genetically modified (GM) corn, soy, fishmeal (and in some cases chicken) which is an abnormal diet for marine life, but they are also loaded with other chemicals, antibiotics, and anti-fungal compounds. To ensure you get the benefits of omega-3 fats from your fish – without all the pollutants – opt for wild caught and look for fish that has been granted the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.  I love Costco for this.  I just got myself a bag of individually wrapped, wild Mahi Mahi filets.  Perfect for  quick and delicious pan seared fish tacos!

Soy

Before jumping on the soy bandwagon, there are a few things you should know. Many studies have linked soy to conditions such as digestive distress, immune system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, infertility, cancer and heart disease. Soy (even organic soy) contains anti-nutrients, compounds that hinder the absorption of nutrients.  Although you can gain many health benefits from fermented soy products like tempeh, miso, and natto, much of the soy produced in the U.S. is unfermented and therefore laden with these health risks.

Protein Drinks

There are numerous options for ready made protein drinks (think Muscle Milk) and protein powders (a quick visit to GNC will blow your mind).  Many people, especially busy professionals, replace a meal with a protein drink when time (and money) is tight.  Ever wonder why a protein drink with 20+ grams of protein still leaves you feeling hungry an our later?  In most cases, the protein is not bio-available.  Your body may only use a small percentage of the listed nutrients in the bottle, but absorb all the sugars, preservatives and chemicals (doing more damage than good) and still leave you frustrated and hungry.  Read your labels and try a whole foods based meal replacement shake instead.  Real food = real nutrition.  Quality shakes are absolutely available on the market today and my friends at Purium are offering my readers a $50 discount to try some of the healthiest food on the planet.  Here’s one of my favorites.

Restaurants

Most of us dine out a few times per week.  Many of us have to do work lunches and meetings in restaurants as well.  Servers are trained in the preparation of dishes and are there to provide the best experience for YOU (I know, I’ve worked int his industry for 20+ years).  Ask questions and request modifications if necessary.  You can (and should) ask if the salmon is farmed or if the veggie burger is made in house.  If the answer doesn’t suite you, the healthier choice may very well be an unexpected surprise.

Keeping your diet healthy and fresh not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, it helps you THRIVE by improving your focus, boosting your energy and nourishing your soul.

I hope these tips are helpful!  Weeding through all the conflicting health and nutrition information can be a tough task for anyone. If you need help developing clarity about healthy foods that you can start to include in your diet, feel free to comment below!

A Guide to Healthy “DESK DINING”

We all recognize the challenges of being at a desk for the majority of the day. The following guidelines will help you to better manage these lifestyle challenges of office eating so that you can sustain your energy levels, work smarter and get more out of your day.

Vending Machines, Cafeterias and Convenience Stands

Most of the foods on offer are high in saturated and total fat, sodium and/or sugar, and virtually devoid of fiber and vitamins.  Eating these foods on a regular basis may result in erratic blood sugar levels, leaving you with low energy, irritability, poor concentration, weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes, heart attacks and stroke, gout, high blood pressure, cancer, and other diseases.

What to do:

  • Before grabbing a snack, consider whether you rather need a break from what you’re doing. Going for a short walk or getting a breath of fresh air may be all you need to feel re-energized.
  • Drink a glass of water as you may simply be dehydrated.  Thirst is commonly mistaken for hunger.  We’re not drinking enough water as it is.  When you drink water throughout the day, you will find yourself more energized, focused and better able to sleep at the end of the day.  Really!  Get that water bottle on your desk!
  • Do not allow yourself to skip meals. Hungry people tend to make unhealthy food choices, particularly if tempting snacks are readily available. Tip: Boil a dozen eggs on Sunday so you can have a gab & go breakfast or snack during the week.
  • Pack your snacks and lunches.  My insulated lunch bag has saved me on many occasions!  You can easily prep fresh veggies & hummus, fruit and nuts for a quick snack at your desk or to take with you as you walk around the building for a change of scenery.  Get the crock pot out and make a hearty roast, chili or even breakfast bake to get you through the week.  Some planning and prep is all it takes to get on track with healthy eating.

 

Caffeine-Rich Drinks

Although tea, coffee and cocoa contain beneficial flavonoids and other antioxidants, the caffeine content limits their benefit. Over-consumption of caffeine often goes hand in hand with over-consumption of sugar and refined unhealthy snacks such as muffins, cookies and snack bars. Excess caffeine intake may cause feelings of anxiety, increased blood pressure, insomnia and headaches. It can also be a digestive system irritant, causing heartburn, cramping or diarrhea in sensitive individuals.

What to do:

  • Before having a cup of tea or coffee, go for a short walk or a breath of fresh air as it may be all you need.
  • Limit yourself to 2-3 cups of java per day. Hot chocolate, soda and energy drinks should not be consumed on a regular basis, but rather as an occasional treat (if you must).
  • Avoid artificial coffee and tea creamers, as they are high in saturated and trans fats, which increase the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart attacks and stroke.  Instead use real, organic cream, almond milk or other dairy substitutes (made from whole foods).
  • Skip the sugar. The total daily sugar intake for an adult should be less than 10% of total energy, which equates to 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for women, and 12 teaspoons for men.  Try stevia or monkfruit for some sweetness.
  • With every cup of coffee or tea, drink a glass of water to quench your thirst.
  • During cold and flu season (or anytime), try hot water with a slice of lemon, orange or fresh ginger in it. Herbal teas also count as water.
  • Try green juice!  This is my favorite way to get a delicious, healthy boost of energy.  Don’t have a juice bar at work?  Most of us don’t.  There are many healthy, organic, dehydrated juices available that you can simply shake with water when you’re ready.  They’re convenient, have a long shelf life and much more affordable than a daily juice from a juice bar.  Here’s my favorite  (25% discount applied at checkout).

 

Meetings

if I had a dollar for every time I heard about the muffins and donuts at meetings… The challenge with meetings is that either unhealthy foods are provided or none at all. Foods on offer during meetings typically are highly refined and high in fat. This can limit productivity and creativity – how sharp do you feel after a muffin with 4 tablespoons of sugar?  How do these foods affect your energy.. and waist line?

What to do:

  • Be proactive and if possible, organize healthy food platters for meetings. Source various catering outlets that provide delicious smart snack platters.
  • Suggested snack platter items to your usual caterer: veggies, hummus, berries, nuts, boiled eggs, grilled chicken strips,  smoked salmon, etc. Yummy and very power suit-friendly!
  • Keep your own healthy snacks on hand to consume during or between back-to-back meetings.
  • Ensure that water is available in all meetings along with the tea and coffee.
  • Have a smart snack before meetings and then a beverage during the meeting.
  • If you have to eat from unhealthy food platters, fill a plate of food once, keeping in mind that half should be vegetables or fruit. This way, you end up eating a fairly balanced meal rather than too many high fat, high carbohydrate snacks if you nibble continuously.
  • If there are four or fewer of you who need to have a meeting, consider going for a walk while addressing the issues at hand. This helps to reduce unhealthy snacking – and, bonus, it spurs creativity and let’s everyone know that workplace wellness it part of the company values.

 

Break Rooms

I’ve had clients send me pictures of their break rooms at work.  So S.A.D. (Standard American Diet)!  It’s especially hard when you are starting a new eating plan or trying to detox from processed foods since cravings are at an all time high.  If you must use a space, then you must change the space.

What to do:

  • Avoid them if possible, otherwise use that tunnel vision,  get your healthy, home made food from the fridge and eat your meal preferably with a healthy coworker to keep you on track
  • Use a food tracker.  Tracking your food gives you pause and forces you to take a moment to choose your food.  there’s no mindless eating when you use a tracker.  My favorite one is: My Fitness Pal.  You’ll see if that muffin is worth it when you enter it into the app…
  • Be proactive and request healthy options be stocked
  • Be proactive and post colorful flyers in the break room with healthy tips and break activities like a walk, stretch session or breathing exercises to do before heading back to your work station.
  • Be proactive and start a healthy break (or lunch) club!  Put a sign up sheet int he break room.  Each person in your group can bring in a healthy snack or lunch once per week.  You can support each other in your healthy living and add in some physical activity during the work day with a step challenge or something similar.

 

Travelling

This is a tricky one. Time zone changes on top of the usual work stresses really make this a tough challenge for my corporate clients. Whether you spend a lot of time in a car or hotels, or fly across time zones, travelling disrupts your usual eating routine and can play havoc with healthier food choices.

What to do:

  • The biggest challenge with meals served on airplanes is the almost complete lack of vegetables and fresh fruit. Make sure you do eat all the salad and vegetables that are served, or ask for the vegetarian option.
  • Should you wish to have a meal before boarding a plane, choose a salad-based meal with a small protein serving.
  • Meal timing is the other challenge when travelling. A main meal should only be consumed four to five hours after the last main meal. Should you be served a meal one to two hours after a large meal, treat this meal as a snack, rather than consuming the whole meal.
  • Fruit juices, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are strictly speaking too energy dense. Make water your beverage of choice. If you must imbibe, match every alcoholic drink with a glass of water.
  • Drinking enough water is very important, as long flights are particularly dehydrating. Have a glass of water every hour or so.

 

Conclusion

No matter if you’re travelling or desk-dining, the power is in your hands.  Arm yourself with the information you need to make healthy choices.  Talk to your coworkers and supervisors about adapting the environment to fit your health needs.  Take responsibility and research some healthy recipes to make in bulk – always cook once, eat twice.  Drink water throughout the day.  If necessary, invest in healthy convenience foods to match your busy lifestyle – this is my favorite bundle (25% discount at check out).  Get some fresh air.

Lastly, get an accountability partner!  More often than not, you will have a coworker who is also in need of support to reset their diet and stay on track.  Working towards your health goals with a buddy – especially one you see 5 days a week will significantly increase the likelihood that you will succeed in your endeavors.  You’ll also form a strong bond and open up more possibilities to spread health and wellness office wide.

 

 

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