Category Archives: Uncategorized

COULD STRESS BE AFFECTING YOUR WEIGHT?

Eurodiet Australia

We’re all familiar with it, whether it’s work, finances, family or something else, stress is an everyday factor in most Australians lives. According to the Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey 2013, Australian’s are getting more stressed every year! And what’s worse is that if what causes you stress is a long term problem, it could definitely be affecting your weight!

How do stress and weight relate?
Experiencing stress on any scale triggers a response you would know as ‘the fight or flight response’. What you might not know about this is that the fight or flight response releases a hormone called Cortisol, which is mostly responsible for any weight gain or a halt in weight loss that you may experience during times of high stress. Cortisol acts on your fat deposits, and stores them around your abdomen; it also gives you a higher preference for addictive behaviours, or returning…

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Health in a Cup

Is there any better breakfast than a nourishing green smoothie? I think not!

Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, they are an excellent way to start your day. They’re detoxifying, energizing yet calming, and revitalizing to the whole body. By drinking a green smoothie first thing in the morning, you’re setting yourself up to make healthy decisions for the rest of the day. You don’t want all your hard work going down the drain, do you?

If drinking vegetables sounds gross to you, keep in mind that the fruit will give it a hint of sweetness, so you won’t taste them as much. Feel free to add more fruit if you’re just getting started on green smoothies and don’t have the palate yet. But don’t worry! Over time your taste buds will adapt and you’ll actually start to crave them!

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

  • 1 medium pear
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 large knob of ginger, grated (use more or less depending on preference)
  • 1 tsp. spirulina
  • 1-2 Tbs. ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup water (add more if needed to blend properly)

Instructions

Place all ingredients in blender, with larger pieces on bottom. Add water last. Blend until smooth and pureed. Sip slowly throughout the morning and feel yourself getting healthier!

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Reflections on a 30-Day Yoga Challenge

Well, I just finished a 30-day yoga challenge and boy am I sore! But man, does it feel good. I’ve been practicing yoga for about 12 years now, but not consistently… and a few of those years saw VERY few sun salutations. Especially while living in Tahoe, where I would much rather shred the freshy gnar gnar then get my stretch on. Adrenaline rushes beat inner peace by a long shot in those days.

Now that I’m living in San Francisco and have greater aspirations for my body and soul, I’ve picked it up again and have been trying to practice at least a couple times a week. Then, about 3 months ago, I finally pushed over my plateau and felt l was finally progressing. This gave me inspiration to attempt a 30-day yoga challenge in order to see how much further progress I could make.

For my yoga challenge, I used You Tube videos (free!) and did a different one daily. I’m not a fan of repeating the same workout over and over, but if that’s more your style, then by all means. That said, I LOVE You Tube videos for exercise purposes. Cardio, HIIT, strength training, yoga, pilates… you name it, I’ll do it. There’s less time wasted because you don’t have to go anywhere AND you can work out in your sports bra and booty shorts. Some of you may feel comfortable doing this at a gym, but certainly not me. I must admit though, sometimes I don’t work as hard because there isn’t anyone watching me. If this sounds like a problem you might have, then this might not be the best plan for you.

I don’t want to make it sound like I was doing intense, hour + long classes every day, because that definitely wasn’t the case. My practice changed daily depending on my immediate circumstances, i.e., energy level, mood, and muscle soreness. Some days I did challenging power/vinyasa classes and other days were spent doing primarily stretches and relaxation poses. However, I always meditated for at least 5 minutes while in shavasana at the end of my practice. This daily meditation seemed to help me cope with life’s stressors a little easier… I really hope to continue with this helpful ritual!

The first week was awesome! I overcame my plateau quickly and felt like I was progressing exponentially. It was a very rewarding feeling and something I didn’t anticipate happening so rapidly. Unfortunately, the 2nd and 3rd week were a little uneventful, but the last week or so saw further improvement, so I can’t complain! I’m not really surprised by this though. My body was tired after exercising daily and needed time to build up endurance and strength, which it did. Yay to strong muscles!

Successes

  • Getting over my yoga plateau.
  • Only missed one day- I made it up the next day, and don’t feel bad about it.
  • Gained strength, flexibility, and endurance. It’s pretty amazing how much stronger and limber I feel after only a month. I can now do chaturanga pose like it’s going out of style and my binds are actually binds now, not just my arms wrapped around my body. Well, I suppose it depends on the bind 🙂 It’s super motivating to see such quick progress… try it for yourself and see if you have the same results!
  • Greater awareness of body position, both during my practice and in day-to-day life.
  • A constant need for movement and a strong desire to explore my body and it’s abilities.
  • Most importantly, I’ve developed a lifelong love for the activity and feel confident I’ll continue practicing regularly from here on out. I honestly couldn’t imagine otherwise.

Challenges

  • Practicing every day got a little monotonous, despite my frequent video switch-ups.
  • My left wrist sustained a mild injury, which I have continued to work through. I know, that’s obviously a really smart move.
  • My body was feeling pretty darn tired by the middle of the month and is likely responsible for my lag during the 2nd and 3rd weeks. Fortunately, I recovered by taking it easy a few days in a row and was able to finish up strong (literally and figuratively).
  • In addition to my daily yoga practice, I was also continuing to run, do HIIT and strength train (not all on the same day), so this extra activity was definitely responsible for my burn out as well. Perhaps I should have strictly focused on yoga, but that would have been too boring. Like I said before, I prefer changing my exercise routine, well, constantly.
  • Weekends! I’ve never been an enthusiastic supporter of weekend exercise (unless it involves snow and/or nature), and that fact has certainly not changed. Man, were some of those days tough! Gotta keep your eye on the prize though. Ugh, I think I just puked in my mouth a little.

What does the future hold, you ask? Well, now that I feel somewhat proficient at basic yoga poses (finally!), I intend to gain a better understanding behind WHY I’m actually practicing yoga. In hind sight, I’m pretty disappointed in myself for not pursuing this sooner… why do yoga if you don’t know why you’re doing it?

Also, trying partner yoga looks like a great way to spend quality time with my boyfriend, or should I say, FIANCE!!! Yes, its true, Greg proposed last Tuesday and we couldn’t be happier… I foresee a wedding blog in my future, which is obviously very original. But I digress. Check out this demonstration and tell me this doesn’t look fun, creative, amorous, athletic, and unifying all at once. I haven’t been this excited about a pop culture fad since I first heard about flash mobs.

Obviously, I want to learn some advanced moves as well. So far I’ve got crow pose down pretty solidly, and my head stands are decent, but I’ve got a loooooooong way to go. The great thing about yoga is that you get a little better each day. It may not seem like it from day to day, but when you do a 30-day challenge, you start to see improvements a bit quicker and it seems somewhat quantifiable.

Oh, and I should probably start going to actual, real life classes. Wearing clothes while practicing yoga is something I’ll have to get used too again.

My “aha” Moments and Thoughts

  •  Daily practice leads to gradual, noticeable improvement.
  • Slowly but surely, grasshopper.
  • Mind over matter. Or at least, that was the intention. My practice was highly dependent on my mood and energy levels. There aspects basically determined how things were going to go; either swimmingly or stinkingly. Yeah, I just made that word up.
  • I now have an uncontrollable urge to do sun salutations, sometimes at inappropriate times.
  • Practice makes perfect. On that note, it looks like I’ve perfected the art of writing obvious cliches. All joking aside, my daily practice helped me gain greater awareness of my body, self-expression, strength, confidence, and flexibility. And this is only the beginning!
  • I truly appreciate the creative expression, energy, and flow that yoga has brought to my life.
  • No matter how inflexible you are… you can become flexible. I know it may seem crazy to think that you could someday do a front bend and lay comfortably over your legs for several minutes, but you can. With daily stretching, your muscles feel as though they’re elongating and you can feel yourself inching towards the ultimate goal.

There’s no doubt about it- regular yoga practice has made me a believer. I simply FEEL BETTER after a yoga session, both physically and psychologically. And it seems as though these feelings are lasting longer and longer after each session. I’m grateful I finally got around to making yoga a part of my life. I’d highly recommend it to all of you.

Reflections on a Cleansing Meal Plan

Spring has arrived! And with it, hopefully, a renewed desired to eat healthy. At least that’s what I was thinking. Though my eating habits never seriously stray into the realm of bad choices, I felt that my boyfriend, Greg, and I were due for a period of conscious clean eating. Nothing too extreme was necessary; this was not a true cleanse- we still ate food! I just wanted to help relieve some problems that were most likely stemming from food choices.

Specifically, Greg has been having some pretty severe gastrointestinal issues lately, which I suspect is a result of his dairy consumption… Actually, he’s had these problems for quite some time, and I am anxious to get to the bottom of it. So, I eliminated dairy to see if this is indeed the culprit. In addition, I basically took out any commonly allergenic foods, such as wheat, soy, and corn, in order to give the digestive system a rest. This is probably pretty obvious, but processed foods, sugars, coffee, and alcohol were also avoided. All animal products, with the exception of fish, were eliminated as well.

Overall, the purpose of this whole foods-based “cleanse” was to provide our bodies with an influx of nutrients through the consumption of organic, unrefined, alkalizing, allergen-free foods that are easily digested and absorbed by the body. Out with the crap and in with the nutrients! SO, I made this 5-day cleansing meal plan to make my goal an empirical, easily obtainable reality. First, let me go over several of the food choices listed on the plan. I want you guys to know there is a method (and reason) to my madness!

  • Smoothies: This is probably a pretty obvious one… These delectable treats are a great source of concentrated nutrients in an easy-to-digest form. Remember, you still have to “eat” your smoothie though! The more you chew your foods, and even liquids, the easier it is to digest them, allowing the body to focus on more important things, like immunity, detoxification, and energy production.
  • Oatmeal: Though this may seem like an unlikely food choice for a whole foods cleanse, I included it for its excellent fiber content and, to be quite honest, its ability to enhance my bowel movements exponentially. TMI. Also, I know some of you are probably anti-agave, so feel free to skip that ingredient and just add cinnamon. Or maple syrup, whatever 🙂 
  • Sardines, Salmon, and Cod: While this meal plan is mostly vegan, I thought adding a little fish into the mix would be good idea because of their high omega-3 content. These fatty acids are a powerful source of anti-inflammatory properties, which are important for me to consume due to my active lifestyle. I want to reduce the incidents of stiff and swollen joints as much as possible! In addition, there are virtually no other significant sources of protein in the diet, except nutritional yeast, and I didn’t want to go hungry (or increase the potential for succumbing to cravings). I don’t necessarily believe in starving oneself during a cleanse. 
  • Beets: These sweet, albeit messy root veggies contain a group of phytonutrients called betalains that have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory, detoxification, and antioxidant support. Detox and cleanse are two words that go hand-in-hand, so I obviously included lots of beets in the plan. And who doesn’t love red poop?! Sorry, there are way too many references to bowel movements in this post. 
  • Dulse: If you don’t know about the wonders of dulse (and sea veggies in general), then listen up! They contain pretty much every trace mineral known to man in super concentrated amounts. You only need a little sprinkle of dulse flakes… so put it on everything!
  • Cilantro: This is another potent detoxifying food. Cilantro can actually chelate (remove) heavy metals from your body so eat this tasty herb often for maximum benefit.
  • Soup/Broth: Liquids are easy for the body to digest and assimilate and soups/broths are mineral rich, warming, calming, and of course, cleansing!
  • Fruit: Though I didn’t want to over-do it with sugars, fruit is a natural source of the sweet stuff so I allowed a little into my plan. Also, fruit is a great snack and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 
  • Various Veggies:The meal plan is predominantly a plant-based diet because these are the foods we need for cleansing/detoxifying the body. The more the merrier!
  • Chocolate: I know what you’re thinking… Chocolate?! Really?! This is definitely not a usual suspect when undertaking a cleanse, but I included it for several reasons. First, like I already said, I don’t believe in depriving or starving oneself when cleaning up the diet. Having a small piece of chocolate at the end of night was a pleasant reward for how hard we were working on eating optimally. Also, dark chocolate contains minerals and antioxidant properties, so the calories are actually quite nutrient-dense. Finally, recent research shows that chocolate is fermented in the gut by our friendly bacteria into usable antioxidants and fiber. Pretty cool, huh?!

Example of Shopping List

Yours doesn’t have to look exactly like this… but try to think lots of fresh. organic, veggies in a variety of different colors and shapes. Don’t just buy broccoli and carrots. Expand your horizons and try a few vegetables you’ve never bought before. Different vegetables have different nutritional profiles, so eating the rainbow is encouraged for maximum nutrient intake.

  • Ginger
  • Green onions
  • Lemons
  • Mushrooms
  • Cilantro
  • Spinach
  • Red pepper
  • Red onion
  • White onion
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Radishes
  • Mixed greens
  • Arugula/bitter greens
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Nori sheets
  • Brown rice
  • Spirulina
  • Flax seeds
  • Canned salmon and sardines with bones (bones=calcium)
  • Miso paste
  • Chickpeas
  • Coconut oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Dulse flakes
  • Cod or other cold water fish
  • Almond milk
  • Hijiki

Strengths of Cleansing Plan

  • Lots of smoothies! I drink them regularly, but not necessarily daily, so it felt great to consume them every morning and notice the extra boost of energy they give me. The alkalizing properties of the veggies offset any excess acidity in the body.
  • Lots of veggies! Actually, that’s pretty much all I ate for the week. There are just way too many reasons why veggies rule to even explain… just eat them. They cleanse, nourish, detoxify, and improve overall health.
  • Lots of bowel movements! Geez, again with the BMs. However, with all the fiber I was consuming, its hardly surprising that this would be the case. If you have any issues with constipation, then this short-term diet is for you! Eating an abundance of vegetables, fruits, and non-glutinous grains is your healthiest and cheapest option in correcting this problem.
  • Some fish! I included three servings of fish for the week because of their lean, easily digestible protein, non-allergenic qualities, and potent anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Just to stress the point: Deprivation wasn’t my intention- eating a variety of the healthiest foods possible and eliminating all the crappy ones sounds more like it.
  • No meat! Though I have a new-found love and appreciation for carnivorous foods, I excluded them from the plan because of their acidic, digestion-challenged nature. I only had five days to really cleanse and detoxify my body, and keeping meat in the equation would hinder these efforts. Giving the digestive tract a little break every now and then is always a good idea. However, small amounts of pastured, organic meats and poultry can be a welcome part of one’s regular diet and is encouraged.
  • No dairy! It’s allergenic, irritating to the GI tract, constipating, acidic, and unnecessary. Not that I don’t eat it… I just consume in moderation and definitely think that complete elimination from the diet is essential during any period of clean eating. Also, Greg is likely lactose intolerant and NEEDS to give his system a break. I suggest that you do the same if you are prone to a dairy allergy or intolerance as well. Sometimes, if you are able to properly and thoroughly repair the gut, then you can eat dairy products on occasion even if they have caused you problems in the past. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed for Greg!
  • My health goals are being realized. I strive to live a positive, energetic, and comfortable life as much as possible and, though I make mistakes and bad decisions just like everyone else, I don’t make it a habit. The point of this cleanse was to inch a little closer to that goal, without killing myself.

Weaknesses of Cleansing Plan

  • The food items should have been more general. For example, there really was no reason to specifically list the vegetables needed for the lentil soup or sauteed veggies in coconut oil. When I was at the grocery store, I took pains to get everything on my list and in the perfect quantity. This was both time consuming and superfluous. Just buy whatever is in season, on sale, and/or tastes good to you, as long as its organic! However, some of the foods are listed for a specific reason, i.e., their detoxifying and antioxidant properties, and should continue to be explicitly stated on the plan.
  • I included way too many liquids. Did I really expect to drink 6+ glasses of water, hot water with lemon in the AM, 3 different types of tea, milk thistle seed extract with water, and apple cider vinegar in water before meals? Oh, and throw in a cup of miso soup or mineral broth and a smoothie while you’re at it. I was literally drinking something all day, every day. And urinating. A LOT. Frankly, it’s just not realistic. In the future I will limit the beverage intake to 1-2 cups of herbal tea/day and allow for less water consumption if broths, soups, and smoothies are on the menu.
  • There was way too much required prep time. Luckily, I had plenty of time at that point to prepare the meals, but someone with a hectic work schedule would definitely find this plan unrealistic to implement. However, making everything for the week on Sunday night is a possibility, as is including leftovers on the next day’s menu.
  • I wouldn’t recommend eating this way for long-term, simply because there is not enough protein. Add in some pastured meat, tempeh, organic chicken, and beans and you’re golden.

Overall, my experience with this cleansing meal plan was generally positive and left me with a greater sense of vitality and energy. There were a few improvements to my health that I noticed:

  • I felt whatever the opposite of bloated means. You know that feeling of “skinniness” you get when you haven’t eaten for awhile? Not that I’m encouraging such behavior, but you know what I mean. Well, that’s how I felt all week, even though I was actually eating quite a lot! This is because I wasn’t consuming allergenic, bloating substances, such as bread and cheese.
  • My energy levels were steady and high all day, every day during the cleanse. I believe this may have been because I wasn’t drinking coffee and, therefore, spiking my cortisol levels. These spikes will lead to an eventual crash and can affect one’s circadian rhythm. Also, eating such healthy foods certainly helped as well.
  • Though the first couple days were kind of rough, things improved each day from there on out. This is a pretty common occurrence when eating such a detoxifying diet because the body is flushing out all the built-up toxins, which is obviously going to feel a little unpleasant. Bear with it and keep in mind the ultimate reward. Sometimes things have to uncomfortable before they’re comfortable.
  • While I experienced gastrointestinal bliss, Greg wasn’t so lucky. I suspect this may have been because of his body’s need to adapt to the new foods he was and wasn’t eating; namely, the increase in veggie intake and elimination of dairy products. Sometimes adding vegetables to the diet in large quantities can initially cause bloating and gas, but this usually subsides after a few days, as it did for Greg. Also, when the body is used to eating an allergenic food, such as cheese, on a regular basis, it builds up a “tolerance” to such foods. When taken out of the diet, the results can initially be uncomfortable, but again, this is usually a short term issue. In addition, after suffering GI damage, it takes the body awhile to repair itself, especially when one is feeding it irritating substances at the same time. Simply eliminating allergenic foods for a few days isn’t necessarily going to fix things immediately. Healing the body may require a long term effort. In Greg’s case, cutting out dairy has been helpful in reducing indigestion symptoms, but hasn’t completely eliminated the issue. This goes to show the complexities of the human body; there isn’t always a simple solution to a problem. Back to the drawing board!

Eating as clean as possible was certainly beneficial and is something I plan on doing every few months now. I’ll just call it… health insurance!

Though I’m back to my normal diet, I still basically try to eat this way… primarily veggies, with small portions of meat and fish 3-4x a week, whole grains, and limited processed foods. The key to living a healthy lifestyle is consistency. I’m not saying you can’t eat the occasional slice of pizza or piece of cake. You just can’t eat it daily. And besides, eating good feels good. Give it a try and see with your own eyes, and healthier body.

Recipes

Coming soon!

When you eat healthy, you can climb mountains, no problem!

When you eat healthy, you can climb mountains, no problem!