Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Mango....yes please!

Mango wasn't a fruit on my radar until recently. In fact, I didn't really like it. It was a bit "fuzzy" in it's texture for me. But then, all of a sudden, my sister offered me a disgusting looking piece of dried orange-ish-brown fruit...and because I was super-duper hungry, I took it. My. Mind. Was. Blown. No joke, My head snapped up  "What is THIS!" I asked (overly excitedly). "Oh," said my sister. "It's just unsweetened, unsulfured, dried mango." I was SOLD. Fresh mango, dried mango, freeze dried mango, frozen mango, any kind...I'm in.

With no added sugar, mango has become my go-to sweet treat. Check out its impressive nutrition profile.

Mango is awesome because:
  • Contains over a dozen kinds of antioxidants...yep...those guys that fight against free radical damage that can lead to cancer, diabetes and other illnesses.
  • Boosts immunity with lots of vitamins A, C, E and B
  • Helps with digestive health with lots of fiber and digestive enzymes
  • It's super duper yummy
I did have to do a bit of research on how to tell when/if a mango is ripe, so let me break it down for you in case you don't know either: just like a avocado and peaches, it should have a little softness to it. And it might smell fruity at the stem...that's it!This video is super helpful when cutting up fresh mango. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The missing piece to your health: ZZZZZZzzzzz

For many, it is common sense that to stay healthy and fit you need to have balance and nutritious eating habits as well as an active lifestyle. I think what many of us forget though, is that even if we are the most healthy eaters ever and exercise every day, we can be ruining our hard work and putting our bodies at risk if we don’t get enough sleep.

We need sleep to survive…much like food and water. Sleep expert and President and Medical Director of somniTech, Inc., Dr. Steven Hull, says every person is different in their sleep needs, but the average person should get between 7 and 8 hours at their best. The benefits of sleep are vast and necessary for survival. 

Benefits of Sleep: 
  • Sleep repairs the body 
  • Improves our memory 
  • Keeps your heart healthy 
  • Reduces stress 
  • Helps with your weight loss goals
When we do not get enough sleep (at the very minimum, 6 hours a night) can be tragic to our health. 

Consequences of not sleeping enough:
· Loss of memory
· Decreased alertness
· Increased cholesterol 
· Raised blood pressure
· Increased risk of getting sick due to a weakened immune system
· Decrease of important of leptin (the hormone that tells us we are full) and an increase of ghrelin (the hormone that tells us we are hungry)

According to several studies  sleep (or lack of sleep) has a correlation to obesity and weight gain. 

So what can a person do if they have problems falling asleep or staying asleep like some 50 to 70 million Americans do? Incorporating a few simple changes into your life (especially around bed time) can make a big difference in how easily you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Sleeping Don’ts:

#1 Say good night to caffeine
  • Even if you don’t think that caffeine is effecting your sleep, if you have sleeping problems, try to limit your caffeine to morning times only and Dr. Hull says it is a good rule for everyone to stop any kind of caffeine intake at 2 p.m.
#2 Skip the nightcap
  • Though alcoholic beverages might make us sleepy and some people may doze off after a glass of wine, alcohol interferes with our natural sleep cycle and cause disturbances. So abstain from drinking to for a better night’s sleep.
#3 Don’t exercise to wear yourself out
  • Exercise is a fantastic way to be more energetic and alert not so much to put us to bed. When we exercise is done too close to our bedtime, our bodies will not be ready to slow down, we’ve revved them up and we’ll be up for a few more hours. A great rule of thumb is to make sure that you have at least 4-5 hours before you plan on going to bed.
#4 Turn off the TV and Computers
  • Falling asleep in front of the TV or heading to bed after updating your Facebook page or finishing a presentation for the next day can deter any real attempt at good quality sleep. The lights from computers signal our brains to become alert and late night television is anything but relaxing (think sobering news programs or sit-coms).
#5 Quit midnight snacking
  • Not only does midnight snacking pack on the pounds, but eating refined carbs (bread, cake, cookies, cereal, etc.) or sugary foods put your body into a hormonal rollercoaster keeping you from sleeping through the night. If you have to eat before you go to bed, focus on protein (a few slices of turkey, a small handful of almonds, etc.)
Sleeping Do’s

#1 Relax
  • Relax both physically and mentally. Stress can be one of the major causes of insomnia and disordered sleeping. Try for just a few minutes before you go to be to do some easy breathing exercises or light yoga and stretching.
#2 Make your bedroom a sleep-haven
  • The only two activities that you should do in the bed room are sleep and sex. This will promote a sleeping environment instead of a room that is used for work, TV watching, doing crafts, etc. Being in your bedroom will signal your body that it is time to rest.
#3 Lights out!
  • Making your bedroom dark when you sleep is important. Our bodies are made to sleep when it is dark outside. So if you have a spouse that likes to read late into the night with the light on, or if you work the night shift and have to sleep during the daylight, get yourself a sleep mask to cover the eyes.
#4 Have a bed-time routine
  • Just like you might have a morning routine where you get up, brush your teeth, go to the gym, eat breakfast, take a shower, etc., have a bed-time schedule as well. Maybe have a cup of herbal tea (it’s caffeine free) while reading a book for a few minutes, then brush your teeth, do some light stretching and turn off the lights and close your eyes. All of those things, when you do them every day, will signal your body that it’s time for sleep.
#5 Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • That’s right, every day. Yep, even the weekends. Having a set schedule for when you go to sleep and when you wake up will get your body and mind into a routine so that your internal clock knows when it’s time to go to bed and more importantly, when it is time to wake up (instead of waking up randomly in the middle of the night.

Follow these tips and get a better night’s sleep…your body will thank you!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Just Breathe: the power of the 4-7-8 breathing exercise

Hey you ever feel stressed or anxious? neither...haha...HUGE lie. Years ago, I ran across an article by Dr. Andrew Weil that was all about breathing exercises. The one that stuck out most to me was what he termed "a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system." A tranquilizer sounds pretty darn good to me when feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed. Especially, one that doesn't have any side effects and that I can "take" anywhere, anytime....because, you know, it's just breathing :)

This relaxation breathing has three simple steps:

  1. Inhale for 4 counts
  2. Hold the breath for 7 counts
  3. Exhale for 8 counts
It's soooo simple, but it really packs a stress, that is!

Next time you feel triggered, stressed, anxious, or your mind is too busy to sleep, try a few rounds of this...let me know how it goes!

For more information on relaxation breathing techniques, checkout Dr. Weil's fantastic video!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Blender Brownies (no added sugar!)

My sweet friend, Karlie, asked me yesterday about a brownie recipe for the Wellness Challenge I'm leading right now. I was sooooo interested, so I doctored it up a bit, and I'm a fan. These are paleo and Whole30 compliant (just leave out the vanilla) and are dynamite after letting them sit for a few hours or even over night.

What you need:

*2-3 very or over ripe bananas
*1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
*2/3 cup salted almond butter (crunchy or creamy)
*1/2 tsp vanilla (leave out if on Whole30)

What you do: 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a blender, mash up the bananas and then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until silky smooth
  3. Pour into a silicone pan (or grease a pan with coconut oil)
  4. Back for 15 minutes
  5. Wait for a few hours...I know it's hard, but you will thank me
  6. Enjoy!

If you wanted to make these fluffier, you could totally whip some egg whites and fold those suckers in as well. I think these would be even yummier with banana "ice cream." Enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Spring Break Shape Up 2019: February 18-March 10

Oh gosh...did you know it's already well into February? Okay, you probably totally knew that, but I'm telling you that, for me, this year is flying by and Spring Break is right around the corner-yasssss....and eeeekkkk...that means shorts, dresses, tank tops and swim suits are right around the corner. Currently, that feels like it will never be warm enough for spring (especially since I just bit it on ice on the driveway and I haven't felt warm in 3 months). But time goes on, folks, and that warm weather is coming-YAY! are you feeling these days about your health?

Maybe your new years resolution to eat better and exercise took a dive two weeks into January.

Maybe you're overwhelmed with how to reach your health goals because of all the "health noise" on the internet and so you haven't done anything.

Maybe you have been surviving the cold and all the snow days under a blanket with lots and lots of  popcorn, chocolate and a nice glass of wine while binge watching Netflix (that's my you have a deal too?).

Maybe you're feeling down or lethargic or have tummy problems or aren't fitting into your clothes in a comfy way.

If any of those feel like you right now and you would like to change them with movement, good sleep, hydration and nutrient dense food, then join me and a small group of others with the same goals and game plan to get right back on track. You can do anything for 21 days...promise. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it and I'll be right there with you the entire way.

The Spring Break Shape Up Challenge begins Monday, February 18 and ends Sunday, March 10. This Challenge is all about getting more energy, kicking sugar cravings, sleeping better and shedding a bit of fat in the process.

Here's what you can expect when you sign up:
  • Membership to a private Facebook group with daily encouragement and tips
  • Suggested food guide and recipes
  • Grocery lists
  • Weekly workout schedule
  • A private online forum (via FB page) where you can post questions, celebrate your successes (and challenges) as well as get encouragement from a group of people doing the same work.
  • Access to an ACE certified personal trainer and wellness coach with over 10 years of experience
  • NO supplements or gimmicks...just food...the kind you eat out, cook at home or pick up on the go.
  • All for $29 payable via PayPal*

Are you in? Ready to choose to feel better? Ya know...when you feel better you look what's there to lose?

Click here to e-mail me that you are IN and ready to take control of your health.

*as soon as the PayPal invoice is paid, you will be added to the private Facebook group! :)

Roasted Potatoes with Onions and Peppers

On Christmas morning my mom made roasted potatoes with peppers and onions as part of brunch...and even just thinking about them right now, my mouth is watering. Ever since then, I've been making a big batch each week for, well, whenever I want them. I use them as sides for salmon or hamburgers or under eggs in the morning. I can't tell you how yummy and satisfying they are AND simple to make.

What you need: 
  • Several pounds of white potatoes (my favs are smaller red and gold OR even better, the tiny bite sized kind so you don't have to cut them up)
  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes 
  • 1-2 large yellow onions
  • 4 bell peppers (I like using orange and yellow peppers for this)
  • Avocado oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
What you do:
  • Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees
  • Cut up white potatoes in to medium chunks (or don't if they are the little guys)
  • Peel and cut up sweet potatoes into chunks similar to the other potatoes
  • Cut onions and peppers into chunks (remember they will shrink a bit so you can make them pretty large-time saver!)
  • Toss all potatoes and veggies in enough oil to coat them all slightly
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Spread it all out on a baking sheet
  • Cook those suckers for 20 minutes, then stir, repeat until they are baked to your preference
I like the onions and peppers to be slightly burnt, so I cook mine for a while and then just turn the oven off and let them cool in there. 


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

"Creamy" Hamburger's sooooo delicious

So I don't have a photo of this soup....well...I do....but it doesn't look super appetizing...UPDATE:I just made this for the 10th time and took an okay photo... This thick and satisfying soup is loaded with veggies and protein and is just plain good...just ask my kids :)

What you need:
  • 1 pound ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 8 medium sized red potatoes, diced
  • 1 bag (or about 4 cups) riced cauliflower
  • Salt and pepper to taste
What you do:
  • Brown the meat for about 5 minutes
  • Add the onion, ghee, garlic, carrots and celery and saute with the meat until the onions begin to soften
  • Throw it all in the crockpot and stir in the chicken broth and red potatoes
  • Right before you are ready to serve, cook the cauliflower rice in the microwave for 3 minutes
  • Pour the cooked cauliflower and about 1 cup of the broth from the soup into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy (add more broth if necessary)
  • Stir the cauliflower into the soup
  • Serve!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

5 Reasons to Drink Warm Lemon Water in the Morning

As soon as I get up, I always chug a big glass of gets me that much closer to drinking half my body weight in oz of water a day. But lately, it's been so cold, I've started to drink the water warm and then as the coffee is brewing, I do a mug with some lemon juice. I've see all the stuff before about lemon water and it's benefits, but I kinda forgot about it until our next door neighbor shared his morning routine with me. I thought, "heck...if Jeff is doing this, I can do that!"

I did a little research because, let's be honest, how many of us have even 30 more seconds in our mornings to cut open a lemon and squeeze it into some warm water...not me, my friends. UNLESS it really does something good for my body.

Let me share what I found out about warm lemon water in the mornings:
  • Helps hydrate the body after sleeping (which dehydrates the body)
  • Warm water is more quickly absorbed into the system
  • Warm water wakes up the digestion system (helps you pee and poop)
  • Adding lemon is great because it gives us a boost of Vitamin C...who couldn't use more of that during cold and flu season? 
  • Lemon also helps our liver with detoxification...get that bad stuff out of our system
 And now let me share what I have noticed from drinking warm lemon water personally:
  • It totally aids in digestion
  • I feel a bit more awake (probably because I'm hydrating myself)
  • I have yet to get sick (now I probably will because I just wrote that)
  • My kids do NOT like the taste, so they leave my mug alone-bonus! ⬇️
Worth it? Totally

Also...there are some interesting health rituals around drinking warm water first thing in the morning. Check out this interesting article for more info on drinking warm water.

Friday, February 8, 2019

The thoughts and experience

This January I some people in a class I teach decided to do the Whole30 ..and being super competitive, I took that as a challenge to do it myself. If you aren’t familiar with what “Whole30” is all about, let me break it down for you. 

Basically, you eat:
  • meat (preferably organic)
  • eggs
  • fats like olive oil, coconut oil and avocados
  • nuts
  • fruits
  • veggies
The things off limits:
  • sugars
  • grains (including corn, quinoa, rice, wheat, etc)
  • vegetable oil
  • beans 
  • legumes (including peanuts)
  • alcohol
  • soy
  • dairy
Many people gasp and back away from this “diet” because it’s so restrictive. Totally fine, it’s not for everyone. However, it’s only meant to be for 30 days and it essentially eliminates things that people are sensitive to so that when you begin eating those things you can tell if they do a body good. For all the info, definitely check out Whole30’s website

Now, I have to admit to 2 things.

#1. I have done the Whole30 before and it was fine...but it was also a long time ago before I was dairy and gluten free and it was HARD!

#2. I should say that in January, I did the Whole-ish30. I kept to the food rules like my life depended on it, but I did have some red wine and vodka on the weekends. Judge me if you wish. 

Anyway, I have to say, I feel GREAT! 
  • My sugar cravings are not beasts like they used to apple or some unsweetened dried mango will do the trick. Plus, as an avid chocolate lover and consumer, I’m just not really into anymore...what?!? 
  • I feel like I can really hear my hunger cues. I know when I’m actually hungry and should eat and when I’m just bored or stressed or whatever.
  • I don’t get the mid afternoon blood sugar dip...yay!
  • I don’t have the mid-afternoon bloat...ever! 
So, I feel like I won January in the energy and feeling we’ll department (even if I did have some drinks along the way.) 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Iced-in workout!

It’s so icy and cold that the gyms are closed...what?! How will you get a workout in? Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. This do-anywhere workout will warm you up as well as burn tons o’calories! And huge bonus: if you slipped on the ice like I did yesterday, this workout targets stabilizing muscles to keep you upright! 

Let me know how you like it! 

100 jumping jacks
90 bicycle crunches
80 hip bridges
70 squats
60 (second) plank
50 walking lunges
40 bird dogs
                                                   30 jump squats
                                                   20 push ups
                                                       10 walking planks 

The whole thing took me less than 20 minutes...have fun! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Dry Brushing: worth it?

Ever heard of dry skin brushing, or dry brushing for short?

If not, you might think that the idea of rubbing completely dry skin with a natural bristle brush sounds super strange and a big ol' waste of time. I was totally with you....until this guy Joe who is helping me relieve some pain through Myofascial (torture) massage suggested I start (more on my experience with Joe later).

If you have heard of dry brushing, you may be aware of the vast amounts of claims that people make in support of the practice: reduces cellulite, rids the body of toxins, helps lymphatic flow, reduces stress, improves digestion, promotes circulation and exfoliates the skin. Now, if it truly did all of that, everyone with a hint of bumpy skin on their booty would be doing it. In fact, Dr. Andrew Weil has a fantastic article on dry brushing and is super up front about what it can't do (i.e. cure cellulite and detox the body). However, I have found since dry brushing my super dry winter skin that the exfoliation is the best way to cure my flaky, parched skin all over my body. Also, since you move in a specific way with the brush, it can help with circulation and promote lymph flow and drainage (basically the system that gets junk out of your body through various bodily functions). Plus, it feels good and I swear I have more energy after a session with my brush.

So is it worth it?

Totally. It takes about 2-5 minutes depending on how quickly you move. Here's a little "how to"

How to dry brush to get ride of dry skin, increase circulation and promote lymphatic flow:

  1. Purchase a brush with natural bristles such as boar hair bristles (this is the one I got
  2. Get naked and make sure you are completely dry
  3. Begin with the feet and with the same motion that you would brush long hair (use your imagination if you need to), brush the skin in the direction of your heart. For example, you will brush your feet and legs upward and your chest and upper back downward...make sense? If this seems super confusing, google "how to dry brush" on youtube and go from there.
  4. Shower
  5. Moisturize with a natural moisturizer...coconut oil is my fav but I also use EveryOne Lotion.
  6. Repeat a few times a week.
What's your experience with dry brushing??

Monday, February 4, 2019

Another on-the-go bar that is squeaky clean!

Oh my...have you tried these? Epic is that company that came out with all those “meat bars” made of chickens, cows and buffalos...kinda like a fancy and cleaner jerky. But now, they have jumped on the super-simple-bar-with-added-protein band wagon. Super similar to the beloved RX bars, these have egg white protein and I have to say, is the tastiest bar to date. I love me some lemon bars with the gooey lemon part on top of the flaky and buttery crust, and these are a pretty good sub. I get mine at Sprouts and eat them for breakfast if I’m gone all morning or for a post instense workout snack. Yummy!!

Clean as a whistle Curry Chicken

Recently, I've developed a love of curry dishes. They are so warm and satisfying and are super easy to make nice and clean (even Whole30 compliant). This particular chicken curry dish was what my son asked me to make on his day to choose our dinner...score! I serve this over rice...or in my case...cauliflower is DELICIOUS!

Clean Curry Chicken
(serves 4ish)

What you need:

  • 1 TBSP avocado oil
  • 1.5 lbs cubed chicken breast
  • 1 yellow or white onion
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • 3 TBSP curry powder
  • 1 tsp coconut aminos
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bag (or 4 cups cauliflower rice)
What you do:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet
  2. Brown chicken for about 5 minutes or so
  3. Add onion and garlic to chicken and continue sauteeing
  4. Stir in curry powder and mix well
  5. Pour the coconut milk into the skillet and bring mixture to a boil
  6. Simmer mixture for 20 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through
  7. Add coconut aminos and salt and pepper to taste
  8. Serve over riced cauliflower