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.

Reduce Inflammation With These Key Foods

Inflammation. It’s not just for health headlines.  It’s a fact.  Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health; this is especially true when it’s chronic (i.e. lasts a long time).  Inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, just to name a few.

But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it’s measured, and where it comes from; why don’t I focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it?  Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:

Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, and Cherries

Why save the best for last? Perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favorite of yours?  Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fiber, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).

Oh, and did I forget to mention their phytochemicals (phyto=plant)? Yes, many antioxidants such as “anthocyanins” and “resveratrol”  are found in these small and delicious fruits.  In fact, berries, grapes, and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds.  I keep Costco bags of frozen berries on hand.  They’re nice to blend in a smoothie but eating them frozen for a sweet treat is also pretty awesome.  If you want to make sure you always have organic berries on hand for a delicious beverage, you can also try Bio Fruit (use code: CoachMarisol for your discount) for when you don’t have the fresh guys around!

Anti-inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant “sulforaphane.” This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.  I pack this super-healthy vegetable together with sources of Omega 3s in this week’s recipe (see below).

Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin.  Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colors.  Peppers that are any other color are not fully ripe and won’t have the same anti-inflammatory effect.

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)

Fat can be terribly inflammatory (hello: “trans” fats), neutral (hello: saturated fats), or anti-inflammatory (hello: “omega-3s), this is why choosing the right fats is so important for your health.  The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, including omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Opt for fresh avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel), and wild fish (e.g. salmon). Oh and don’t forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.  Looking for a delicious chocolatey way to get your fats?  Try this!  (use code Coach Marisol for your discount) It is nutrient dense, packed with protein and loaded with marine omega fatty acids.   Sooo good.

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea

Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.  EGCG is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.  Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It’s thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea.  Matcha is a powder.  You can make it hot or cold.  It’s pretty yummy blended with some almond milk and half of a frozen banana.

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #5 – Turmeric

Would a list of anti-inflammatory foods be complete without the amazing spice turmeric?   Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin.  This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.  I’ve added it to the broccoli and pepper recipe below for a 1-2-3 punch, to kick that inflammation.

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate

Ok, ok. This *may* be slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.  Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely “flavonols”). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy. They’ve even been shown to prevent “neuro-inflammation” (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.

***Make sure you avoid the sugary “candy bars.” You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory!

 

Conclusion

There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose. They range from colourful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.  You have so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of “anti-inflammation.”

 

Recipe (Broccoli, Coconut Milk, Turmeric): Anti-inflammatory Detox Soup

Ingredients

  • I head of broccoli or one bag of broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp oil (coconut, olive, sesame or avocado)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Lots of garlic – minced (I probably use half a head…)
  • 1 -2 Carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 Ribs Celery, chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • dash black pepper
  • Dried or fresh herbs of your choice (optional)
  • Any other veggies hanging out in the fridge that need to be used asap
  • 1 can coconut milk (organic, full fat)
  • 1 liter stock or bone broth (your choice)

In a stock pot, sautee all veggies, garlic & onion with oil , spices and herbs if using.  After a few minutes, add your stock and simmer until veggies are tender.  Should take 5-10 minutes.  Once they are tender, turn off the stove and add can of coconut milk.  Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.

Serve & enjoy!  Tip: Add some cayenne pepper or chilies for an extra spicy kick.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/13-anti-inflammatory-foods/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4717884/

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea/

https://authoritynutrition.com/matcha-green-tea/

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/brain-food-essentials-cacao

http://leesaklich.com/foods-vs-supps/foods-vs-supplements-the-turmeric-edition/

Vitamin K: The Amazing Nutrient You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Vitamin what? K?  Yup!  Why’d they skip vitamins F, G, H, I & J?  Great question!

That’s because the “K” stands for “koagulation” which is the Danish spelling for “coagulation.” Vitamin K is the vitamin that helps the blood to clot or coagulate. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what this amazing, underappreciated vitamin does for our bodies.

It’s one of the four fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E & K.  Let me tell you about all those functions this little powerhouse does for us. Then I’ll list out some vitamin-K rich foods.  Once you read this post, you can consider yourself officially in the know about this little-known vitamin.

Vitamin K’s amazing functions

As I mentioned earlier, the “K” stands for the vitamin’s ability to help clot our blood. And this is a critical life-saving measure to prevent blood loss from cuts and scrapes.

Vitamin K also works hand-in-hand with calcium in the blood. It helps to shuttle the calcium to our bones and teeth where we need it. This reduces our risk of fractures and cavities. Having too much calcium in our blood can lead to kidney stones and hardened arteries (atherosclerosis), so vitamin K helps to reduce our risks of those too.  It also helps with insulin. Not only is vitamin K critical for making insulin, but also to keep your cells sensitive to it. This means that vitamin K can help you better regulate your blood sugar levels.

Vitamin K has a few other functions too. It can help to regulate your sex hormones. In men, it helps to maintain good levels of testosterone. In women with PCOS, it helps to reduce certain hormones.  Finally, vitamin K can help protect against cancer by switching off cancer genes.  It’s a pretty amazing and versatile vitamin.

What to eat to get vitamin K

There are two main types of vitamin K: K1 and K2.

The type depends on which foods you eat. Vitamin K1 is found in plants; while vitamin K2 is found in animal foods and fermented plants.

Vitamin K1 supports blood clotting (remember “koagulation?”). Vitamin K1 is found mostly in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts), dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, collard greens, parsley, and Swiss chard), as well as asparagus.

Vitamin K2 also supports blood clotting and has additional health benefits.   Bone mineralization and effects on cancer genes and sex hormones are primarily from the K2 version. Vitamin K2 is found in egg yolk, cheese, butter, meat, and fermented foods like sauerkraut. Two of the best sources of vitamin K2 are natto (fermented soy) and goose liver.

Since vitamin K is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, it’s best to eat it with a bit of fat. This helps to increase absorption from the food into your body.  If you do want to supplement, make sure you follow the label directions. Some of the cautions include the fact that Vitamin K can interact with several types of medications, so make sure it’s right for you before taking it.

Conclusion

Vitamins K1 and K2 are essential fat-soluble vitamins. They help our blood to clot, our bones to get strong, and regulate our sex hormones, just to name a few.

Vitamin K1 is found in green veggies, like cruciferous and leaves. K2 is found in egg yolks, meat, cheeses, and fermented foods.

I hope you now feel like you’re in the know about this amazing (but not-so-well-known) vitamin. Did you learn something new? Did you want to add something I missed?

Let me know in the comments below.

PS:  Need your greens but don’t have time to shop, cook and all the rest?  You can try More Greens with a $50 discount from yours truly!  Just click here to shop and use code: CoachMarisol at checkout.  You’re welcome!

Recipe (Vitamin K1 & K2-rich): Walnut Pesto

Ingredients:
Raw Garlic – 3 cloves, minced (9 grams)
Pink Salt – 1/2 tsp (3 grams)
Raw Parsley – 2 cups (120 grams)
Extra Virgin Olive oil – 1/2 cup (108 grams)
Raw Walnuts Nuts- 1 cup, chopped (117 grams)
Parmesan cheese – 1/2 cup, grated (50 grams)
Directions:
1. Put shelled walnuts, parlsey, cheese, garlic and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse again.  Drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running just long enough to incorporate the oil, about 20-30 seconds.
2. Use immediatley or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Will last several days chilled.
To serve:
Toss with zoodles or your favorite pasta (I like Banza chickpea noodles), use as a dip or as a spread for grilled fish, chicken or veggies.

https://www.eatthismuch.com/recipe/view/walnut-parsley-pesto,57050/

https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2016/12/09/the-ultimate-vitamin-k2-resource/

https://chriskresser.com/vitamin-k2-the-missing-nutrient/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/wiki/vitamin-k/

How Do I Know if I Have a Leaky Gut?

 

“Leaky gut” is a popular topic in the health and wellness spheres these days. It’s been blamed for many symptoms and conditions that seem to be all-too-common. Allergies, intolerances, joint pain, even autoimmune diseases can all be linked back to leaky gut.  But what exactly is leaky gut? What causes it? What kinds of issues are related to it? And most of all, what can you eat for leaky gut?

What is a leaky gut?

Simply put, your “gut” (a.k.a. “intestinal tract”) is a tube that makes up part of your digestive system. It’s not as simple as a hose or pipe; it’s an amazing tube made of live cells tightly bound together. Your gut helps your body absorb fluids and nutrients, digests your food, and houses billions of friendly gut microbes.

It’s also selective to what it allows past its barrier. Your intestinal tract purposefully keeps some things from being absorbed, so they pass right on through to the other end to be eliminated as waste. You don’t want to absorb many harmful microbes or toxins into your body, right?

FUN FACT: About 70-80% of our immune system is housed around our gut, so it’s ready for foreign invaders.

Absorption of fluids and nutrients happens when they’re allowed through this cellular tube into the circulation. And this is great! As long as what’s being absorbed are fluids and nutrients. The blood and lymph then carry the nutrients to your liver, and then around to the rest of your body; this is so that all your cells, all the way to your toenails, get the nutrition they need to be healthy and grow.

How does a gut become “leaky?”

The gut can become leaky if the cells get damaged, or if the bonds that hold the cells together get damaged. Leaky gut can be caused or worsened by a number of diet and lifestyle factors. Dietary factors like too much sugar or alcohol or even eating things that you’re intolerant to can all contribute to leaky gut.   Unfortunately, becasue we are now bombarded with pesticide infused fruit, veggies, grains and meat alongside genetically modified organisms in our food supply, we may unknowingly be eating foods that we are intolerant to.

Lifestyle factors like stress, lack of sleep, infections, and some medications can also be culprits in this area. Sometimes, if the balance of gut microbes inside the gut (microbiome) is thrown off, this can also contribute to a leaky gut.

Any contributing factors that alter the balance in your gut may cause our gut to become “permeable” or leak. At this point incompletely digested nutrients, microbes (infectious or friendly), toxins, or waste products can more easily get into our bodies.  Scientifically speaking, a “leaky gut” is known as “intestinal permeability.” This means that our intestines are permeable and allow things through that they normally would keep out. They “leak.”  As you can imagine, this is not a good thing.

What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?

Because so much of your immune system is around your gut, the immune cells quickly recognize a “foreign invader” and start their response. This is normal and good if the gut is working properly and not allowing too many things to “leak” in.  But when that happens too much, and the immune system starts responding, the notorious inflammation starts.  Once the immune system starts responding it can look like allergies, food intolerances, and even autoimmune diseases.

Because the first place affected is the gut, there are a number of symptoms right there. Things such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Not to mention that if foods, even healthy foods, aren’t properly digested, their nutrients aren’t properly absorbed. Poor absorption can lead to lack of essential vitamins and minerals for the optimal health of every cell in your body.

What happens in the gut doesn’t just stay in the gut.  Some of the symptoms can also occur on the skin.  Acne, dry skin, itchiness, rashes, eczema, and hives can all be symptoms related to leaky gut. Even rosacea and psoriasis can be linked here due to their autoimmune component.

Even some neurological symptoms are linked with leaky gut. For example, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, migraines, inability to sleep, and general moodiness can also be related.

Finally, a number of chronic inflammatory diseases are thought to be linked with a leaky gut. Things like Crohn’s, colitis, celiac disease, IBS, and MS. Even things like heart disease and stroke are possibilities.

 

What to eat for leaky gut

The general recommendation is to stop eating inflammatory foods and eat more gut-soothing foods.  Incorporating a gut-soothing diet means cutting out grains, legumes, and dairy. Add to that list, food additives, alcohol, and refined sugars.  In their place, add in more green leafy and cruciferous veggies. These are full of nutrients and contain fiber to help feed your friendly gut microbes. You also want to add more sources of vitamin D which can come from fish and egg yolks, and also from the sun. Include probiotics and at more probiotic foods like sauerkraut, dairy-free yogurt, and kombucha (fermented tea). Make sure you’re getting enough essential omega-3 fats found in seafood and seaweed.  Finally, make sure you’re getting some coconut oil and bone broth. Coconut oil has special fats called MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), and bone broth has essential amino acids.

Need a simple routine to sooth your gut, calm your symptoms and improve digestion?  Check out our Gut Health Pack.  Loaded with organic superfoods for the bio-available nutrients you immediately need, aloe to calm and support your digestion and a revolutionary probiotic blend that helps remove GMOs from your gut!  My readers get a generous $50 discount on their first order so Enter code: CoachMarisol for yours!

Conclusion

Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability” can happen when your gut gets damaged due to too much sugar and alcohol, or eating foods you’re intolerant to. It can also be from stress, lack of sleep, or imbalance in your friendly gut microbes. The symptoms of leaky gut are vast – spanning from digestive woes to skin conditions, even to autoimmune conditions.

It’s important to cut out problem foods and drinks and add in more gut-soothing things like green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, probiotic foods, and pure, organic, non GMO superfoods and supplements. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting enough omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and amino acids.

Recipe (gut soothing): Slow-Cooked Chicken Broth

Serves 6-8

  • 1 whole chicken, cooked, bones with or without meat
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery, chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Herbs and spices as desired (salt, pepper, paprika, parsley, bay leaf)
  • 2 handfuls spinach

Instructions:

  1. Place chicken bones, and meat if using, into a slow cooker.
  2. Add chopped vegetables, vinegar, and herbs/spices.
  3. Cover with hot water (about 2 litres/8 cups).
  4. Cook 8 h on medium or overnight on low.
  5. Add spinach 30 minutes before serving.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can strain it before serving, or serve it with the cooked vegetables as soup.

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-is-leaky-gut-and-how-can-it-cause/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut/

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

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-leaky-gut-real#section3

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

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/837168

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/531603

Protein – How Much is Enough?

Protein is not just for great skin, hair, and nails; it’s critical for health. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to repair damage, digest food, fight infections, build muscle and bone, create hormones, and even think and have good moods. Higher protein diets can help fight high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Not to mention protein’s great benefits for metabolism boosting, satiety (feeling full after a meal), and weight management.

Protein is important, and this is a given.  There are a few factors to consider when calculating how much protein we need. I go through those calculations with you and also list the amount of protein in some common foods.

How much protein is enough?

There isn’t a real rule that applies equally to everyone. There are a few factors to consider when figuring out how much protein you need.

Start with the minimum recommendation of 0.36 grams per pound per day.  So, for a 150 lb healthy non-athlete adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.  Mind you, this is a minimum to prevent protein deficiency. It’s not optimal for good repair, digestion, immune function, muscle/bone building, hormones, thinking and great moods. It’s not enough for athletes, seniors or those recovering from an injury, either. If you fall into one of these camps, you may need to increase the minimum protein intake. Aim closer to 0.6 g/lb per day.

Athletes need more protein for their energy and muscle mass. Seniors need more to help ward off muscle and bone loss that’s common in old age. And injured people need more for recovery and healing.

How much protein is too much?

As with fat and carbohydrates, eating too much protein can cause weight gain. Extra protein can be converted into sugar or fat in the body. The interesting thing about protein is that it isn’t as easily or quickly converted as carbohydrates or fat; this is because of its “thermic effect.” The thermic effect is the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport and store a nutrient. To digest protein, your body needs to spend energy (i.e., burn calories).  More calories than when metabolizing fats or carbohydrates.

 If you’re concerned that high protein intake harms healthy kidneys, don’t be. If your kidneys are healthy, they are more than capable of filtering out excess amino acids from the blood. The problem only occurs in people who already have kidney issues.

FUN FACT: Plant proteins are especially safe for kidney health.  If you prefer plant protein, please note that you will have to add supplements your diet for maximum bio-availability, proper levels of iron & amino acids.  Interested in a vegan option that allows you to ditch the multivitamins and offers your daily requirement of  macronutrients along with organic superfoods that support health cholesterol, blood glucose levels and digestion?

Use my code: CaochMarisol for your $50 discount and Shop Here.

How much protein is in food?

  • A 3.5 oz chicken breast has 31 g
  • A 3.5 oz can of salmon has 20 g
  • ½ cup cooked beans contain 6-9 g
  • A large egg contains 6 g
  • ¼ cup nuts contains 4-7 g
  • 1 medium baked potato contains 3 g
  • 1oz Chia Seeds contains 4-6 g
  • 1 cup Quinoa contains 8 g

Conclusion

Protein is an essential nutrient we should all get enough of. “Enough” is about 0.36 – 0.6 g/lb per day. If you’re a healthy non-athlete adult, you can aim for the lower level. If you’re an athlete, senior, or injured person, aim for the higher level.  Too much protein can cause weight gain, so it’s best to have just enough.

I’d love to know: Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Let me know in the comments.

Recipe with Meat AND Plant Protein:

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken with 5 Ingredient Peanut Sauce

Click the photo for Robyn’s Super easy crock pot recipe – it’s genius!

Want more easy high protein, low carb  dinner ideas?  Check this out:

https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/recipes/7-low-carb-high-protein-dinner-can-try-home/

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-protein

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/do-you-eat-enough-protein

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-protein-per-day/

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Okay, so let’s start here: There’s a reason that every diet you try works at first…then completely backfires and you gain more weight.  That reason is what we are going to focus on in this post and it’s a total game changer.

That reason ISN’T that your body is somehow different, or that you don’t have enough willpower to stay away from the chips at 9pm every night.  It’s that you aren’t eating the right foods.

You aren’t eating the foods that support the hormonal state of fat loss.  It’s that simple (simple….not necessarily easy).  I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.  Learning how food works and how to use that to hit your goals is a HUGE game changer, and so that’s exactly what you’re going to learn about today.

So let’s figure out if you’re in the right place.  If this method is going to work for you the way it did for me and does for my clients.

My method, my way of eating is not going to be for everyone.  It’s for a very specific group of people who have tried EVERYTHING.  People who have spent the time, logged the hours and also spent a small fortune on dieting and supplements and all of the things out there, but have never been able to make it work for real life.  So let’s spend a bit of time and figure out if your’e in the right place.

#1.  NOTHING is working.  You’re still gaining or maintaining no matter how little you eat.

So if you’re making the same mistake I was, then you’re definitely in the right place.  I thought that the less I ate and the more I exercised the skinnier I would get.  I thought it was as simple as calories in minus calories out.  As long as the calories out were bigger I’d lose weight.  I was soooooo wrong.

I learned that calories were a very small part to a very big picture.  You see it’s not JUST about calories.  Whether you burn or store fat is determined by hormones NOT by energy in vs energy out.  Yes that plays a small roll, but the TYPE of energy in is WAY more important because the food you are eating and the particular way it digests is completely integral to setting the stage for the right hormones to be in control.

I learned that starvation mode is a real thing.  Your metabolism literally downregulates when you don’t eat enough.  If you add exercise into that equation you can actually start to GAIN weight since your stress hormones spike (‘cause your body is in TROUBLE).

Think about that.  Are you getting this?  This is IMPORTANT.

#2.  You are in the right place if you are eating healthy, following all the diet rules and STILL not losing weight

Big mistake #2 for me was thinking that healthy food automatically meant weight loss.  This was probably MY biggest mistake, and the most frustrating because I felt like I was doing everything RIGHT.  I was eating ridiculously ‘healthy’ foods and still stuck feeling fat, exhausted and like I was missing out on all the things I loved like wine & chocolate.  It was seriously frustrating!  We’re going to spend some time on this, because it’s a HUGE gap in the industry and in any other ‘diet’ you’ve tried.

#3 You are in the right place if you crave carbs every single day and your willpower is just not enough.  If at the end of the day you’ve got nothing left to avoid those chips or popcorn or whatever your guilty pleasure is. 

This is one of the biggest diet fails for everyone I’ve worked with.  The belief that it’s NORMAL to have to avoid certain foods using willpower, and success depends on the strength of our willpower.  When I learned that cravings actually had a physiological basis. That I craved carbs because my blood sugar was unbalanced and my body was desperately trying to achieve balance, my mind was blown.  I still didn’t really believe it.   Now I KNOW that it’s true, because the carb cravings really do disappear when your blood sugar becomes balanced.  I see it happen time and time again and honestly I’m always a little blown away.

Now isn’t that mind-blowing?  All of this time spent thinking that these cravings were all about your mood and your likes/dislikes, when there is something so basic and easily controlled driving them?  Can you imagine how good it feels to finally be in control of cravings?

Finally….you are in the right place if you are so sick and tired of the B.S. out there.

You don’t ACTUALLY even believe that anything will work anymore but you haven’t completely given up yet.  That’s why you’re reading this.  No matter how sick and tired of it all you are – you still want to lose weight and there is no shame in that.

So if after reading about my big mistakes you’re still here and ready to learn, that means that  you know you’re in the right place.  I’d love to hear from you-which one resonated the most?  I told you that for me it was believing that healthy foods were also great for weight loss….ummmmmmmm nope.  Comment on this post and let me know!

Now I want to say something that I consider to be a major truth. It was DEFINITELY the truth in my case, and it is for most of my clients.  What you ‘know’ about dieting is totally wrong…

Your cravings and impulses for junk food are NOT emotional…they’re physiological.  Until we understand what’s going on in our bodies when we eat specific foods, we are setting ourselves up to fail over and over again.  Now I don’t know about you, but I find that really really frustrating.  It feels like everything you’ve done has been so wasted, and yet the truth of it is so much easier than the restrictions or the supplements that are constantly thrown at us.

The secret to how food works, is making sense of macronutrients (Fat/Protein/Carbs) and how they work in our bodies.   In my program The Faster Fat Burn Method, you will learn how certain foods affect your hunger and fat loss.  Let’s move on to the three steps, or the 3 secrets to faster fat loss without giving up wine or chocolate:

Step 1: You need to completely eradicate the whole willpower myth and you need to understand that it’s not willpower.  It’s the underlying blood sugar and inflammation issues.  Willpower will never ever win against inflammation & unbalanced blood sugar.  That means traditional dieting is setting yourself up to fail.  In order to balance blood sugar we need to pay attention to the three real food groups (macros) and keep them in balance.

Get rid of inflammation.  I was making a critical mistake every other time I attempted to lose weight, and that’s BEFORE I even picked the diet to try.  You see, I was ignoring the fact that I was inflamed and that’s a weight loss killer.  Actually if I’m honest, I wasn’t IGNORING it per se, I didn’t even know inflammation was a thing.  You probably don’t either….or of you do you don’t realize how interconnected inflammation is with fat storage.  It’s pretty crazy so I’m going to start by explaining it.
So what exactly is inflammation?  Inflammation is when your body is reactive & irritated and attempting to flush fluids and resources to an area as a reaction.  Acute inflammation is normal and it’s a process that helps restore balance and healing after an injury or illness.  Chronic inflammation is bad news and is caused very often by the foods we are eating and don’t even realize are irritating to us.  So what does inflammation do?  Well it causes us to be puffy and retain excess fluid which makes us feel (and look) fatter to begin with.  Brutal.  Secondly, it worsens your insulin resistance meaning your body needs to make extra.  Insulin is your fat storage hormone (as you’ll learn in the next step) so this is NOT good.  More insulin = more fat storage.  Inflammation also causes something called leptin to be less effective.  Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full, so when you are inflamed your hunger can be out of control and you never quite feel satisfied.  This of course makes you eat more and since there is so much insulin available to store fat, guess what happens.

If you can get rid of inflammation big things happen.  Bloating goes way down so you feel thinner right away.  Your jeans do up so much easier.  You aren’t puffy.  Being inflamed saps your energy so your energy goes way up!  This is huge for managing those afternoon sugar cravings.  Also-you sleep better and your skin is clearer.  Basically, cleaning up inflammation is a HUGE deal and without doing that you can’t make much progress in lasting fat loss.  Makes sense, right?  So how do we do that?  What’s the trick to losing fat without willpower?  We get blood sugar & inflammation caused by our diets under control BEFORE we start a fat loss program.  Boom, inflammation managed.  So that’s step 1.  Deal with the blood sugar & inflammation FIRST so you start out with big wins like inches down, bloat gone and energy up and THEN start the fat loss.

Step 2 is to flip the switch over to fat burning mode by changing up the hormones in charge.  Fat is being stored or released according to hormones.  There are so many hormones and factors that work together with fat storage or release, but we’re just going to focus on the two main hormonal players to keep it simple.

Let’s first talk a little bit about how fat actually works.  Fat evolved as a way for us to survive periods of famine, right?Basically, when we evolved we were generally in a situation where food was available all the time OR we were in a situation where no food was available.  Because our bodies are smart and adaptive, they figured out a way to take the energy from food when it was readily available, and store it away for when it wasn’t.  The solution was fat cells.  Your body uses fat cells as storage lockers to put away extra energy.

So in order to store energy, your body relies on hormones calling the shots.  Insulin is a power hormone.  It’s released from the pancreas in response to sugar entering the blood & moves the sugar (glucose) from the blood to the cells to use for energy.  Insulin tells the liver to store excess sugar as glycogen.  When glycogen stores max out, it tells the liver to convert excess sugar to fat so the body can store it for use later.

Glucagon is the other power player.  Glucagon acts directly opposite to insulin & is responsible for breaking down stored fat & carbohydrates and using them for energy.  Glucagon and insulin are counterparts, which means when insulin is high, glucagon is low and vice versa

This is huge.  The type of foods you eat directly impacts whether insulin or glucagon is high.  The TYPE of food you eat is directly responsible for either building up those storage lockers OR for helping to empty them.

This is BIG, right?  Like calories are NOT the be all and end all.  Calories have no impact on these hormones.  Isn’t this great information?  Don’t you find this just mind blowing after all of those years of counting calories, and only reading the calorie component of the label?  I know I sure did and I honestly still do.

So things should be making a little more sense now, they should be coming together and you should be able to start to see that healthy foods, quote unquote, may not be healthy for every goal.

Let’s use a few examples.  This first one is unrelated to fat loss, but it’s a really good illustration of this point.  So kale is healthy, right?  It’s a superfood, right?  I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.  What about for someone who has severe IBS?  For that person, kale is actually extremely UNHEALTHY because it’s so rough. It actually irritates the intestine and causes a flare up in a ton of people.  So yes, kale is healthy.  It has all these vitamins and minerals and fiber BUT it’s not healthy for Joanna who has severe IBS or IBD.  Make sense?

Okay this one really hits home.  Oatmeal is healthy, right?  Steel cut oats?  Lots of B vitamins, fiber?  Sure.  But is oatmeal great for fat loss?  Mainly carbs, no fat leading to blood sugar instability and even potentially inflammation (grains can be super irritating).  In this case, I’d say no.  So…healthy food but NOT ideal for the current goal.

You need to use this lens to look at all of the ‘healthy’ foods that you’ve been eating, thinking they support fat loss.  You also need to look through this lens at the quote unquote unhealthy foods you’ve been avoiding.  Make sense?

We now have inflammation managed so we can start to see actual fat loss.  After that we moved on to hormonal fat burning and using the right foods to make sure that happens.  Step 3 is to stop sabotaging ourselves by falling for the latest or even oldest fad diets.  I’m going to tell you something-weight loss on these diets is almost always due to calorie restriction.  Calorie restriction is dangerous because your body can’t keep it up forever, so eventually it has to end.  Also, when you restrict your calories, your metabolism falls suit and declines over time.  When you start eating a regular amount of food again, it doesn’t just come back up.  This is what the rebound weight gain effect is so huge.

Now we’ve been through a LOT of information here, so I want to quickly recap the 3 steps to faster fat loss for you, so it’s not all muddled.

  1.  Reduce inflammation and start to balance blood sugar to get rid of cravings and start fat loss.
  2. Flip the metabolic switch to fat burning mode by using the right macros.  Create balanced meals so blood sugar is stable and the fat burning hormones are in the driver’s seat.
  3. Avoid the biggest problem most people have: calorie restriction.  Make sure you’re eating enough.

So what I’ve done is I’ve put all of that information that I just shared with you, into an online program.  Its called  The Faster Fat Burn Method, and what The Faster Fat Burn Method is, is a way for us to work together, a way for you to implement everything you’ve just learned in this post over the next 12 weeks and beyond.  Click Here to learn more!

5 Natural Ways to Deal with Bloating

Do you ever feel a bit “overextended” in the belly after a meal? Perhaps “gassy?” Have you ever carried a “food baby?”  Well, bloating is common. Up to 25-30% of people experience it regularly. It happens when you have trouble digesting. The symptoms come from excess gas, reactions to foods, or food not moving through you as well as it could.  There are many reasons you might experience these symptoms. Maybe because of a serious condition (disease), or a food allergy or intolerance (what you eat). It can also result from how you eat.

If you have a serious digestive issue like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), then make sure you eat accordingly. Same goes if you know certain foods give you gas. Simply avoid them.  If you’re already doing those things, and still experience bloating, here are some great tips for dealing with it naturally.

1 – Don’t overeat

If you overeat at a meal, then you’ll feel bigger around the mid-section. You’ll feel more pressure in your abdomen. Plus, you’re giving your digestive system a hard time. It’s better to eat until you feel almost full and not overindulge. Grab an extra snack or small meal throughout the day if you have to. Just don’t over-stuff yourself in one sitting.

2 – Avoid sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners made from sugars. In an ingredients list, they end in “-ol,” and include things like sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol. They’re found in some chewing gums and sugar-free foods. Some people experience bloating after eating foods with these. So, try avoiding them and see if that helps you.

3 – Avoid swallowing air

Sometimes the gas that causes pressure in your digestive system is from swallowing air. Things like carbonated drinks are the biggest culprit here. You can also swallow air when you chew gum or drink through a straw, so try ditching these.  You can also swallow air when eating too quickly or while talking. Which leads me to…

4 – Eat slower, more mindfully, and less stressed

Eating too fast isn’t doing your digestive system any favors. You can help the food move along by chewing it thoroughly and slowing down your eating habits. Be mindful and enjoy the time you are spending eating your meals. Savor them.

The feeling of stress can also cause increased bloating. Stress-reducing techniques can help improve your digestion. Try meditating or deep breathing (but not while you’re eating). 🙂  You can (and should), however, take three deep breaths BEFORE starting to eat your meal.  It helps to center you, reduce stress and is the starting point of mindful eating.  It gives you a moment to look at your food and feel grateful or excited to eat it.  Additionally, if you start your meal with three deep breaths, you are more likely to eat more slowly allowing you to eat less.  If eating less causes anxiety (it did for me), just save what you don’t eat.  You can have it in an hour or two.  I promise, it will be ok.

5 – Try Biome Medic

If your bloating is accompanied by poor digestion, brain fog, headaches, joint pain, weight gain etc. it may be linked to poor gut health.  We all know that most of our food is sprayed with pesticides and almost all corn, soy and wheat products in the US are genetically modified.  Biome Medic is the first and only organic, non-GMO product that

1. REMOVES the toxic chemical glyphosate from your microbiome
2. SUPPORTS the “good” bacteria to boost your immunity
3. REBUILDS the gut villi for better nutrient absorption, digestion and weight loss

My family and I love this product.  My readers can use code: CoachMarisol for a $50 discount on their first order.  Do yourself a favor and get on it!

6 – Try peppermint

Peppermint oil has been shown to improve bloating. It’s thought to increase transit time by relaxing the stomach muscles and increasing the flow of bile. Try steeping fresh peppermint leaves, or a peppermint tea bag, and drinking it slowly. See if that helps reduce your symptoms.

 

Conclusion

There are a bunch of natural ways to deal with bloating.  First, avoid it by not eating things that give you gas or aggravate a digestive issue. Try not to overeat, consume sugar alcohols, or swallow air. Also, eating more mindfully and reducing stress can help too. Finally, if you are experiencing bloating along with other symptoms like exhaustion, skin breakouts, and/or joint pain, try the newest superfood product to hit the market: Biome Medic.  Here’s a quick 4 minute video packed with information to help you care for you and your family’s health.

If you do all of these, and still experience bloating, then you may have a food intolerance; this could be from an allergy or intolerance. If you have a major concern, then please see your doctor. Your doctor can help to rule out a serious and/or chronic condition.

 

Recipe (peppermint): Peppermint Mocha Creamer

1 can coconut milk

½ cup almond milk, unsweetened

2 tbsp cacao powder, unsweetened

½ tsp peppermint extract or essential oil (food-grade and safe for internal use)

3 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)

 

Instructions:  Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined.  Store in a sealed container in your fridge.  Serve & enjoy!

Tip: While the non-peppermint ingredients in this creamer may or may not be “de-bloating” for you, try these ideas too:

  • Grow peppermint yourself;
  • Chew on the fresh leaves; and/or
  • Steep them for tea.

 

References:

https://www.jenreviews.com/bloating/

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/how-to-get-rid-of-bloating/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/fix-gut-fix-health

The True Health Benefits of Exercise

Exercise. It can improve your health on all levels. We’re not just talking about being fitter and stronger. We’re talking about overall health and longevity.  Regular exercise improves your heart health, brain health, muscle and bone health, diabetes, and arthritis. Beyond those, it also reduces stress, boosts moods, increases your energy, and can improve your sleep. And exercise prevents death from any cause (“all cause mortality”).

Convinced yet?  The benefits of exercise come from improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation and blood sugar levels. They come from moving your muscles (including your heart muscle) and pulling on your bones.  You don’t need to go overboard on exercise to get these amazing health results. As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days/week is enough.  And you don’t have to do a particular kind of exercise. All four types of exercise have health benefits. They are:

  • Endurance (brisk walking, jogging, yard work, dancing, aerobics, cycling, swimming)
  • Strength (climbing stairs, carrying groceries, lifting weights, using a resistance band or your body weight, Pilates)
  • Balance (standing on one foot, Tai Chi)
  • Flexibility (stretching, yoga)

Don’t forget, all exercise counts, even if you’re not doing a sport or in a gym. Weekend hikes, walking to the store and doing household chores also count towards your weekly exercise goal.  Let me take a minute to prove to you how healthy exercise really is. Here are a few key points.

Exercise for heart health

Exercise reduced cardiac mortality by 31% in middle aged men who previously had a heart attack.  Regular exercise reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure).

Exercise for brain health

Exercise can improve physical function and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease. It also reduces changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise improved mental functions by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is involved in learning and memory. It also increases the size of the part of the brain for memory and learning (the “hippocampus”); this was shown mostly with aerobic exercise.

Exercise for muscle and bone health

Regular physical activity can help maintain strong muscles and bones; this is particularly true for strength exercises. As we age, we naturally start to lose muscle mass and bone density. So, to prevent osteoporosis, exercise regularly.  PRO TIP: And don’t forget that balance exercises and Tai Chi can help prevent falls.

Exercise for diabetes

People with diabetes who exercise have better insulin sensitivity and HbA1C values (the marker of glycemic control).  Exercise does this because by contracting your muscles, you’re fueling them with sugar in your blood. This helps to manage blood sugar levels better than without exercise.

Conclusion

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health benefits of exercise.  By doing just 30 minutes 5 days/week, you can vastly improve your health. Since there are different benefits for different types, try mixing up what you do throughout the week. You don’t even need an “official” workout. Walking to the grocery store or doing household chores can count too.

If you’re just starting, then pick something you enjoy, get some accountability (exercise tracker or a buddy), and start.  What’s your favorite exercise and how often do you do it?

Recipe (exercise recovery): Coconut Water Refresher

Serves 2

1 cup coconut water

2 cups watermelon

½ tsp lime juice

1 dash salt

1 cup ice

2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Instructions: Blend the first four ingredients until well mixed. Add ice and pulse until ice is crushed.  Pour into glasses or water bottle and add chia seeds. Shake/stir before drinking.  Serve & enjoy!  Tip: The chia seeds add extra fiber, protein, and omega-3s.

 

References:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFBBjynBpSw&t=3s

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-benefits-of-exercise/

https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Fracture/prevent_falls_ff.asp

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/exercise-is-good-for-diabetes

https://authoritynutrition.com/15-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/healthy-movement

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-physical-activity

How Much Sugar is Too Much?

It’s official! Organizations and governments are (finally) declaring a maximum amount of daily sugar intake.  While this is a step forward, there are still a few problems. One – they don’t all agree with each other. And, two, I don’t necessarily agree with them either.

We all know sugar is NOT a health food. It isn’t full of nutrition, and excess consumption is not associated with great health.

The problem is that sugar is everywhere. It’s naturally occurring. It’s also added to just about every processed food there is. And this “added sugar” is a factor in many chronic diseases we see today. Sugar is inflammatory. Too much is associated with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cavities. Too much sugar is a huge health risk, no matter how you look at it.  So let’s talk about how much sugar is “too much.”

Added sugar vs. naturally occurring sugar. What do some of the officials say?

Before we talk about the “official” numbers (and why I don’t agree with them), you need to know the difference between “added” sugar and “naturally occurring” sugar.

Fruit and other healthy whole foods contain sugar. They also contain water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals. They are good for you. Eating fruits and vegetables is a well-proven way to reduce your risks of many chronic diseases.

“Added sugars,” on the other hand, are concerning. In 2013, the American Heart Association calculated that about 25,000 deaths per year were due to sweetened beverages. “Added sugars” are also in baked goods, candies, soups, sauces and other processed foods. You can find sugar on the ingredient list as many names, often ending in “-ose.” These include glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc.

So, “Total sugars” = “Naturally occurring sugars” + “Added sugars.”

The “official” change is the new Nutrition Facts tables. You may remember that in Canada and the USA, they declare the amount of sugar, but don’t give it a %DV (% daily value); this means, they’ve never had a “benchmark” maximum daily value to use. They haven’t declared how much is too much. Now, both countries are implementing a %DV for sugar.

In Canada, the %DV is based on 100 g/day of total sugar. Unfortunately, this number is large because it includes both naturally occurring and added sugars. The %DV is in-line with the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation’s recommendations of no more than 90 g of total sugars per day.

In 2008, the average daily total sugar intake in the USA was 76.7 grams per day; this is less than these two benchmarks. Yet, it doesn’t seem that people are getting healthier.  I’d argue that 100 g per day total sugar is still too high.

In the USA, the labels are changing too. They are not declaring “total” sugars but will differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars. They have decided on a maximum of 50 g of “added” sugars each day. Unfortunately, this is still more than the American Heart Association’s recommended maximum of 24 g/day added sugar for women, and 36 g/day added sugar for men.

What is a better daily sugar goal?

While these official numbers are a step in the right direction, they’re not what I would recommend.  For one thing, I’d ditch as many processed food as possible, regardless of their sugar content. There are a ton of studies that show that processed foods are bad for your health. Period. I wouldn’t recommend eating your “daily value” of sugar from sweetened processed foods. I don’t recommend even 50 g of “added” sugar per day. Get your sugar from whole, unprocessed fruits first.                                                                                                                                    Second, you don’t even need to max out your daily sugar intake. I promise! Try to reduce your sugar intake below these “official” amounts for an even better goal.

Tips to reduce your sugar intake

Here are some of my most popular recommendations to reduce your sugar intake, so you don’t get too much:

  • Reduce (or eliminate) sugar-sweetened beverages; this includes soda pop, sweetened coffee/tea, sports drinks, etc. Instead, have fruit-infused water. Or try drinking your coffee/tea “black” or with a touch of cinnamon or vanilla instead.
  • Reduce (or eliminate) your desserts and baked goods and bake your own instead. You can easily reduce the sugar in a recipe by half. Or try my delicious (no added sugar) dessert recipe below.
  • Instead of a granola bar (or other sugary snack), try fruit, a handful of nuts, or veggies with hummus. These are easy grab-and-go snacks if you prepare them in a “to-go” container the night before.

Let me know in the comments your favorite tips to reduce your sugar intake!

If you are suffering from fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, weight gain, sleeplessness, break outs and/or fat around your belly that’s impossible to hide – too much sugar in your diet may be to blame.  It’s not your fault.  Food companies design food to be highly palatable & hide sugar in it’s various forms in all the processed foods we eat.  You have to be a label detective to understand it sometimes.  Are you over it?  Are you angry?  Do you want to break free from sugar addiction?  Do you want to stop dieting, live a healthy lifestyle and eat delicious food that helps you burn fat?  If so, you can check out my 12 week program here.  It’s a whole foods based approach with lot’s of yummy & easy recipes, tools, and support.  Now for our tasty treat.  See recipe below!

 

Recipe (No added sugar): Frosty

Serves 1

¾ cup almond milk (unsweetened)

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)

½ banana, frozen

Ice cubes

Instructions: Add everything into a blender except ice. Blend.  Add a handful of ice cubes and pulse until thick and ice is blended.  Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Feel free to add  a handful of spinach for added nutrients – don’t worry, you won’t see or taste it!  Frosty not sweet enough?  A squirt of stevia should do the trick!

References:

https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/diet-nutrition/ultimate-guide-deal-sugar-withdrawal/

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-labelling-changes.html?_ga=2.256456139.1337838755.1500915116-364691916.1498677123

https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm#images

http://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/healthy-eating/reduce-sugar

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added-Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp#.WXYtbYjys2w

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-sugar-per-day/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/truth-about-sugar

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-break-the-sugar-habit-and-help-your-health-in-the-process

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-spot-and-avoid-added-sugar

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-too-much-added-sugar-increases-the-risk-of-dying-with-heart-disease-201402067021

 

 

Can’t Meditate? Here are 9 Other Ways to Break Free From Stress

I know! Meditation is the secret sauce to take your wellness up to the status of the elite gurus. It’s the “be all, end all” for the health of your entire mind-body-spirit. It’s the absolute must-do that is the only path to beating the infamous health-buster called “stress.”

Don’t get me wrong; practicing meditation is an excellent approach to optimizing your health and overall well-being. Meditation is great for relieving and dealing with stress, and all of the issues that come along with it. But it’s not the only way to get there.  The whole purpose of meditating is to calm the mind and emotions and relax our physical body too. And there is always more than one way to get there.  Let’s talk about some of the other things to try if meditation is not exactly your thing.

Journaling

Spending some time every day writing out your thoughts can help to relieve stress. You can use journaling to list the things you’re grateful for, this is known as gratitude journaling. You can use it as a “brain dump” to get all of your thoughts and ideas out of your head to soothe your mind. You can use “ever since” journaling to describe your life after you reach your goals.  I like to keep pen and paper next to my bed.  When I start thinking about stuff

Reading

It’s one thing to read to learn something that you have to learn, or to advance your knowledge.  You can also read for pure pleasure. To get caught up in a story and just relax is one of my favorite forms of self care!

Coloring

Adult coloring books are all the rage! Not *that* kind of adult, but coloring pages with lots of detail and tiny areas to color in. My favorite ones are the irreverent swear word coloring books – I know they’re not for everyone but sometimes you just have to swear! They’re so funny and satisfying and they can take hours. You can always opt for something simple, like kids coloring pages too. The idea is the same. Repeated movements and focusing on the art you’re creating can help to clear your mind.

Knitting or crocheting (or other crafts)

Knitting, crocheting or other yarn activities are a great way to de-stress; this is a skill that comes in all levels from beginner to advanced. You can choose a quick little rectangular scarf to make, or a detailed sweater. You can choose the pattern, size, and yarn. Once you get into the flow of these skills, they’re great to do when you’re feeling stressed. Not only can they relax your mind to focus on your work, but you can end up warming yourself or others with the products you create.

Gentle exercise

Gently moving your body is another great way to de-stress. Activities that are slower and less intensive are ideal. Things like walking, yoga, stretching, or tai chi can all be great ways to relax your mind and improve your strength and balance at the same time.

Sleep in or take a nap

A common cause of increased stress hormones is lack of sleep. Too little sleep and too much stress go hand-in-hand. So, getting enough good quality sleep is important to help you break free from stress without having to meditate.  Try diffusing calming essential oils to create a relaxing environment for a nap.  One of my tricks to falling asleep is to read something that’s mentally challenging or boring.  It tires my brain out and I fall asleep pretty quickly.

Pamper yourself

Maybe you love getting massages or mani/pedi’s? Maybe you love a long bath or lighting candles? Perhaps you can add your favorite relaxing music to the mix for a pampering evening? Spending some time to pamper yourself regularly is great for your mind, body, and spirit.

Spend time in nature

This is my all time favorite way to de-stress.  You don’t have to head away for vacation to relax in nature. While a calm beautiful beach or cabin in the woods may be amazing, you don’t have to go that far. Even spending time on the grass at your local park or playground, or walking on a wooded trail in your neighborhood can do the trick.  Luckily I’m in Los Angeles where hiking trails and beaches are abundant.

Make time for people and pets you love

It’s so important to spend time with family, friends, and pets whom you love. New research is coming out about the health issues related to loneliness. Reach out and plan to hang out with your besties, or even offer to take your neighbor’s dog for a walk in the park (I’ve done this).

Try a Natural and effective Product to Aid You

Feel like you need a natural organic, non-GMO superfood product to help calm your nerves and really relax?  From Chill Sprays to Leafy Greens Powders to Calming Enzymes, we’ve got plenty of pure, premium options to fit your needs.  Click Here for additional tips and effective products to try.  Use code CoachMarisol for a $50 discount on your first order! Woohoo!

Conclusion

Stress reduction is the goal. How you do it, be it meditation, supplements or otherwise, is not that important. What’s important is that you find what works for you.  Try journaling, reading, gentle exercise, sleep, premium supplements, spending time in nature, and making time for people and pets you love.

Have other great ideas? Let me know what helps you de-stress in the comments below.

 

Recipe (calming): Lavender Essential Oil

Instructions to inhale directly: Add up to 6 drops of undiluted essential oil to a handkerchief/tissue and inhale occasionally. Use up to 3 times per day.

Instruction for steam inhalation: Add 3 – 12 drops of undiluted essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Inhale slowly and deeply for 5 – 10 minutes. Use up to 3 times per day.

Tip: Lavender isn’t the only calming essential oil. You can also use angelica, balsam, benzoin, bitter orange, cedarwood, celery, chamomile, cornmint, cumin, curry, frankincense, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, labdanum, laurel, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, palmarosa, parsley, patchouli, peppermint, rose, rosewood, sage, sandalwood, scotch pine, spearmint, star anise, sweet basil, sweet orange, thyme, or ylang ylang.

 

References:

https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/pain-relief/one-guide-natural-stress-relievers/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/getting-control-stress

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-power-and-prevalence-of-loneliness-2017011310977

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress/relaxation.htm

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/do-essential-oils-work/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=aromatherap&lang=eng

Need a Mood Boost? Eat This.

No question that what you eat can affect how you feel, right?  Combine that with the emotional ties we have to the holidays and we can either sore through them with energy and happiness or we can get stressed out and feel down in the dumps.

Mental health and brain health are complex. So are the foods we eat, and the ways our bodies interact with those foods.  While, we don’t know the exact mechanisms how food and nutrition help, we know a few ways food impacts our moods.

First, what we eat becomes the raw materials for our neurotransmitters. “Neurotransmitters” are biochemical messengers that allow our nerve cells to communicate (ever heard of serotonin?). They are important not just for thinking and memory, but also for mental health.

Second, what we eat affects our blood sugar. And having unstable blood sugar levels can contribute to mood swings. Let’s talk about mood-boosting and mood-busting foods.

Mood-boosting foods

Some nutrient deficiencies look like mental health problems; this includes deficiencies in B-vitamins, vitamin D, and the mineral selenium. So, getting enough vitamins, minerals, (and other things like antioxidants) are key. These nutrients not only reduce inflammation but also fuel the biochemical reactions in our bodies. Including those that create neurotransmitters. So make sure you’re eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are the happiest.

Also pay special attention to vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), as it’s not naturally occurring in too many foods. Selenium is an essential mineral found in Brazil nuts, walnuts, cod, and poultry. Try to add some of those to your weekly diet.

Second, make sure you get enough protein. Protein is your body’s main supply of amino acids. Amino acids are very important for mood issues because they are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Protein also helps to regulate blood sugar. I recommend eating protein with every meal; this includes dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, poultry, and meat.  If you’re on the go, a clean protein shake can help.  Here’s my favorite.

Third, complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and quinoa are great too. They allow better absorption of key amino acids like tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by your body to make serotonin (your “happy hormone”) and melatonin (your “sleepy” hormone). So, if you want to relax, try these in the evening.

Fourth, fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and algae) are also mood-boosting. Omega-3s are definitely “brain food” and may help to ease some symptoms.

FUN FACT: One study showed that giving one multi-vitamin and one omega-3  fish oil tablet per day to prison inmates reduced the incidence of violent behavior by 50%!

Last but not least, make sure you’re hydrated. Mild dehydration can cause mood issues as well.

Mood-busting foods

You won’t be surprised to hear me say processed foods are mood-busters, right? One study suggests that eating a lot of processed foods devoid of nutrients can increase your chances of becoming depressed by as much as 60 percent! This is on top of the research that shows nutrient deficiencies can look like mental health problems.

“But it makes me feel good!”

Yes, some of these mood busters can make you feel better temporarily. Some big food companies study how to maximize the “pleasure” centers with the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat. Not to mention the color, texture, and taste; they can light up our taste buds and make us feel good… for now.  A few other things to avoid are:

  • Alcohol (nervous system depressant)
  • Caffeine (may worsen anxious feelings and ability to sleep)
  • Sugar (messes with your blood sugar and can worsen inflammation).

 

Conclusion

Bad moods can lead to bad eating habits; and, bad eating habits can lead to bad moods. If you need a mood boost, stick to minimally processed nutrient-dense whole foods. Things like fresh fruit and vegetables (including leafy greens), nuts and seeds, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. Avoid common mood-busting foods like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.

And remember, sometimes “feel good” junk foods, only make you feel good temporarily. So, try my recipe for fruit salad, below.

Recipe (mood boosting): Fruit Salad

Serves 6-8

1-2 cups pineapple

1-2 cups cantaloupe, cubed

1-2 cups blueberries, fresh

1-2 cups blackberries, fresh

1-2 cups green or red grapes, sliced in half

fresh chopped mint (optional)

Instructions: Place all fruit in a large bowl and gently toss.

Serve & enjoy!  Tip: Substitute or add any ready-to-eat fruit, like chopped peaches,  raspberries, apples etc.

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-and-mood

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/how-to-fight-depression-naturally-with-nutrition

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/foods-increase-happiness/

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