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Swap your salt for better health

Not all salt is created equal.

 

Salt has earned a bad wrap in the media, and for good reason. Mainstream table salt is horrendous for your health – but not all salt is bad! Contrary to popular belief, you actually NEED salt in your diet to survive. Salt is essential to our human bodies –problems only occur because of the TYPE of salt in our diets.

 

Table salt started out innocently enough, but over time manufacturers found faster, cheaper, and easier ways to manufacture it causing the once natural salt to not even slightly resemble its original state.

 

Let’s look at why table salt is bad today:

1. It causes hypertension and heart disease

The more table salt you eat, the more water your body retains. This causes elevated blood pressure. Hypertension is prolonged elevated blood pressure which in turn leads to heart disease. When you have elevated blood pressure your heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. When a muscle is constantly under pressure it becomes thicker and larger, which over time actually makes the heart much less efficient at pumping your blood. This is what eventually leads to heart failure!

2. It causes strokes

A stroke is caused when blood flow to the brain is cut off. This often happened when you have high blood pressure which narrows the blood vessels and the blood cannot reach the brain. Numerous studies have shown that increased sodium intake is linked to increased chance of stroke.

3. Table salt is bleached

No, natural salt is not the pristine white granules that pour out of the Morton Salt tub you have. In order to create a consistent product, manufacturers decided to bleach the salt. Traces of this bleach remain on each granule of salt, so every time you sprinkle that lovely table salt on your food you’re also sprinkling on bleach. If that’s not alarming, I don’t know what is!

4.  Table salt is completely devoid of vitamins and minerals

Naturally occurring salts provide trace minerals that benefit a healthy diet. Table salt has been so processed and stripped of its natural state that the only thing it contains is salt and iodine. Some table salts even strip out the iodine and then add it back in after it has been processed. The problem is that this form of iodine is not as natural and therefore not processed by the body. Therefore, table salt has virtually zero value to your health.

 

So, not to scare you off, but that’s some pretty serious stuff. The good news is you don’t have to give up salt! I actually LOVE salt, just not table salt.

 

The key is to find naturally occurring salts.

 

My two favorites are Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and Celtic Sea Salt.

Pink Himalayan sea salt is pink just like it sounds. Don’t be alarmed by the color – its all those minerals you are missing in your table salt! Pink Himalayan sea salt is actually already dried by nature and just dug up from the earth. The solids that aren’t edible are separated, and the remainder is the pink sea salt – how’s that for minimal processing? For that reason, pink Himalayan sea salt is one of the healthiest, most natural salts you can eat.

 
 

 

Oh, and by the way, you don’t need to go to some exotic store to get this stuff either. Check out this big tub I got from Costco. I just fill up my salt shaker with this and guests never know the difference!

 

Celtic Sea Salt is another great option. Celtic sea salt is completely unprocessed and unrefined. This sea salt actually is gray most of the time, and they grayer the better, because that means that more minerals are in the salt! It may look odd to you at first if you are used to pristine white table salt, but I promise that this stuff is even more delicious than you can imagine.

 
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Any unrefined, unprocessed and naturally occurring sea salt will do. You can find this stuff in a variety of stores, and will almost always be surprised with a new color combination.

 

Eliminate sprinkling table salt on your food, but also watch out for food items that already have salt added. There are ways around this, and you can add your own healthy salt to almost anything.

 

The first thing I started doing was buying unsalted, unrefined peanut butter. I really love salt in my peanut butter, so the natural stuff just wasn’t cutting it. I now mix in my own sea salt and it is absolutely divine!

 

Any time you can skip the table salt and add your own delicious, healthy salt – DO IT! Not only will your taste buds thank you, but your heart and brain will as well!

 

Tell me - Have you tried sea salt? Do you like it, or did it take some getting used to? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

An Easy, One-minute Habit to Brighten Your Morning.

Because we are all busy enough! 

If you read my blog post last week, you learned all about the benefits of tongue scraping. If you missed it, go read about the benefits of this simple habit here.

 

I promised I would be discussing simple strategies you can do to improve your health each week. Habits that take less than a few minutes to implement and are hopefully so easy that you barely even have to put in any effort to achieve them. This week, we are going to continue with another simple habit that you can add to your morning routine right after tongue scraping.

 

Today we are talking all about oil pulling. I have to admit, when I first heard of this I thought it was a bit odd. BUT, after trying it out for months I can honestly say I notice a difference.

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Oil pulling involves putting a small amount of oil into your mouth and swishing it around like a mouthwash. While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence showing the benefits of oil pulling, there has been little research actually done on this topic. I can say from personal experience though, that I have experienced some of its benefits, and a quick google search will bring up thousands of people that feel the same.

 

Oil pulling is mainly done for oral health benefits – it has been shown to prevent gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath. How? Many of these organisms consist of a cell that is covered with a fatty membrane – when these cells come in contact with an oil (fat), they naturally adhere to each other.

 

Oil pulling has also been shown to naturally whiten teeth, likely due to the bacteria it removes and the plaque that it prevents. I have found coconut oil to be the most enjoyable, and also the most effective at whitening teeth.

 

HOW TO OIL PULL

1.      Use 2-3 teaspoons of an organic vegetable oil (coconut, sesame, or olive) and swish around in your mouth for a few minutes. The goal is to ultimately build up the time to 15-20 minutes, but you will experience results even from a quick 1-2-minute swish.

2.      The oil will thicken a little and get milkier as you swish – keep going! It’s working.

3.      Spit the oil out onto on napkin, toilet paper, or in the trash can. DO NOT spit directly into the sink. The oil can clog your pipes over time.

4.      Rinse well with warm water

5.      Brush it out!

 

Ideally, oil pulling is done first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything. I think it’s the perfect routine to add right after tongue scraping. Both of these habits have helped my mouth feel super clean, and my dentist always comments on how great my teeth look!

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Try it and let me know what you think!

One Of The Easiest Things You Can Do To Improve Your Health

Often time when we decide we want to be “healthier” we dive into a new exercise routine, overhaul our diet, and restrict ourselves. This leads to failure almost every time because it is simply not sustainable. The best way to improve your health is by incrementally changing habits or behaviors a little bit at a time.

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Do you typically have a Starbucks latte and a blueberry muffin for breakfast? Instead of skipping your Starbucks habit all at once, start making incremental changes. Instead of a latte, try a non-fat latte. After you get used to that, maybe swap your blueberry muffin for an egg sandwich. Sooner or later, you may be ready to ditch the heavy drink in favor of a regular coffee with a splash of cream and sugar, and maybe you start making your own sandwich at home.

The best way to improve your health is by incrementally changing habits or behaviors a little bit at a time.

The same principles apply to improving your overall health. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be providing simple, almost effortless ways that you can incrementally improve your health. Start by trying one, and hopefully, you’ll be ready for the next one the following week.

Today we’re talking about tongue scraping. Don’t roll your eyes just yet! It's not as gross as it sounds, its SUPER easy, and can provide a ton of benefits in less than a minute a day – SERIOUSLY.

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Tongue scraping is exactly what it sounds like – you scrape your tongue off. This is best done first thing in the morning before you brush your teeth. You can get a fancy tongue scraper like this, or some toothbrushes have little scrapers on the back that you can use. You know when you wake up and your mouth just feels gross? Ever wonder why?

While you sleep, your digestive system is still churning away. Because of this, a lot of toxins are removed while you sleep and end up deposited on your tongue. By scraping these away in the morning, you prevent these toxins from being reabsorbed into your body, allowing your body to focus on other things!

Tongue scraping rituals are linked to old Indian practices in Ayurveda. Ayurveda focuses on a much more holistic approach to medicine than most of the Western world does, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from some of its practices. Here are just a few of the great benefits of tongue scraping:

1.      Removes toxins and bacteria from your body allowing your digestive system to function better

 

2.      Cleanses your tongue so you can better taste and enjoy your food.

 

3.      Increased Immunity – your tongue is your body’s first line of defense for your immune system. By cleansing your tongue every day, you eliminate some risk of getting sick. Your tongue is also a great indicator of what else is going on in your body, so pay attention to any irregularities.

 

4.      Improve your oral health. Studies have shown that plaque build-up on your teeth is linked to plaque build up in your arteries. Keep your mouth clean to keep your heart and arteries clean!

 

I encourage you to start practicing this every day before you brush your teeth in the morning. Typically, it takes between 7 and 14 strokes to remove all of the gunk. Then just brush your teeth as normal. This little 1-minute routine can have a lot of lasting benefits.

Tell me in the comments once you have tried it. Do you notice a difference? Do you enjoy it? Let me know what you think?

Just Start. The Remarkable Value in the First Step.

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I love this quote, but for YEARS I let doubt run my life. I would take one step forward, and then convince myself I wasn't good enough, couldn't do it, didn't deserve it, wasn't ready, insert whatever you say to yourself that makes you stop dead in your tracks.

This blog for example - I finally got up the guts to create it - Bought the domain and hosting, took photos, spent hours figuring out how to make it look right, and finally published the shiny new product. Then when it came time to actually start blogging (kind of the whole point of this website, right?), I got stopped dead in my tracks. 

Why?

Self-Doubt.

It's truly amazing how our minds can talk us out of something before even starting it. It's also amazing how hearing one little thing can turn things around. You know that feeling, the one time you read something or see a quote that truly speaks to your soul? Something that just gets you up and moving again?

That happened to me recently when listening to Lewis Howes' podcast "The School of Greatness". He does these great Five Minute Friday episodes on his Podcast and the most recent one with Mel Robbins really hit home for me. She talked about the 5-second rule -

"If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea."

Seriously, how many times have you had the gut-feeling to do something, only to wait and talk yourself out of it. I love the idea of this 5-second rule to kickstart any idea you have. 

dont think these thoughts girl

I've also been using what I like to call the doomsday method - I think of the worst-case scenario of what could happen, and then decide what I would do if that happened. Often times, the worst thing you can think of turns out not to be so bad after all.

For example, I ask myself: "What is the worst thing that could happen if I don't do anything with this blog?"

My voice never gets heard, I never get my message out, I never make any money, or this blog could never possibly become my full-time job.

Not all that bad, right? Seriously, if that's the worst that could happen, I might as well get started. Which is exactly what I'm doing. 

Now, there are other instances where the doomsday scenario produces more grim results. 

For example, my husband and I have been toying around with a business idea that would require him to quit his job. In this case, the doomsday scenario looks more like this:

We put our families financial situation in jeopardy, we could lose all of our savings, we could lose our house...

Definitely scarier results, right? But then we ask ourselves what we would do if that actually happened.

So we lose all of our savings: we learn to live on less for a while, we scrimp and save and make it work. Do we lose our house? Well, luckily we have a loving family that would probably let us shack up for a bit until we figured out what we were going to do. Surely we wouldn't be homeless, and although it's not an ideal situation, we wouldn't be out on the street. 

Then we ask ourselves, what good can come from this? Well, we could be doing something we really care about, we could be giving back to the community, we could make all sorts of new friendships and relationships, we could be truly happy doing what we are doing.

It's still not an easy decision to make. The risks are still high, and it's still scary, but once you get those "worst-case" scenarios out there and realize that you won't actually die or starve to death, maybe the pay-offs are really worth the risk. 

Now, don't let analysis be a crutch. I am SOOOO guilty of analysis paralysis. Seriously analyzing every situation before acting. This is a big no-no, and another reason why I didn't get this blog started before I should have. 

I would start a blog post, then start researching to the ends of the earth to make it perfect. Then I would analyze my headline, rewrite it a gazillion times, try to find scholarly articles to link to, blah, blah, blah, the list never ended. Before I knew it, I had about 100 blog posts in draft format ready to be published, but never released to the world because they weren't "ready".

News flash: No one is every "ready"

The most successful people in this world start before they are ready. I think the most powerful example of this is Sir Richard Branson. He has started over 300 companies - I seriously doubt he felt "ready" to start every single one of those. What makes him different is he just acts.

Do you know how Virgin airlines was created? He was supposed to be flying to the Virgin Islands and was meeting a very pretty girl there, so of course, he didn't want to be late. His flight was canceled, and it happened to be the last flight out for the night. Not satisfied with that, he decided to charter a plane (which he couldn't afford) to take him to the Virgin Islands. After setting up the charter, he walked back out to the airport with a sign that said "Virgin Airlines $29" and proceeded to get everyone else who missed their flight pay him and join him on the charter. 

Now doesn't that just scream "ACTION"? 

If you're constantly waiting for the "perfect moment" or the "right time", I'm here to tell you it's never going to come. You need to learn that getting uncomfortable is the first step in starting anything. 

I love the mantra:

"Movement in your body creates movement in your life" 

So the next time you are scared, doubtful, leery, or unsure of something that you know deep down in your gut you want to do, do something immediately to act on it.

Do you want to lose weight? Look up a healthy recipe to cook for dinner. Clean out your cupboards and throw away all the crap. Go for a walk. Schedule a workout class. 

Do you want to start a business? Download a free business plan template. Research funding opportunities. Write down everything you need to do to make it happen.

But don't let the research and analysis step get you stuck in a rut. Often times it can feel overwhelming and we get stopped because we don't know what to do next. I'm here to tell you, do ANYTHING. There is no set method for success, and what works for someone, may not work for you. So the next time you feel stuck, find ONE Thing and do it immediately. 

My favorite way to pick what to do is to write everything out on a big sheet of paper. Keep things spaced apart a bit, kind of like a big white board of ideas. Then, close your eyes, turn the paper upside down and all around, and then land your finger on the paper. Whatever you land on - DO THAT. 

Remember, taking one step forward is worth your weight in gold compared to living in your head. Results come from action - so get moving! 

XO,

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New Study Links Cancer to Gut Microbiome

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For those of you that don’t know, the microbiome is all the talk in the health world right now. The microbiome is all of the microbes and genes that live inside our body and mostly reside in our gut. If you have been hearing lots of talk about a “healthy guy” or “probiotics” recently it is because new studies have emerged showing just how powerful our gut is.

 

For example, we once thought that our genes (human genome) were the most important factor in determining our fate. If you mom had cancer, you are more likely to get cancer. If your dad had heart disease, you’re more likely to have a heart attack. BUT, what research is showing is that our genes are just a small part of this crazy puzzle.

 

The gut microbiome actually contains 100x more genes than our human genome – can you see how this could affect your health more than just your hereditary genes?

 

This research is all very new and exciting, and I’m glad to see large corporations like the Cleveland Clinic taking steps to better understand our bodies as a whole.

 

In October, the Cleveland Clinic released the findings of a new breast cancer study where they found that patients with breast cancer had much more pro-cancer bacteria in their gut, within their breast tissue, and could even be traced in their urine. These types of bacteria were not found in patients without cancer, indicating that the gut microbiome could possibly become a good indicator on whether someone will get cancer (or other diseases).

 

In other studies, the gut microbiome has been linked to other issues like autoimmune diseases, gluten intolerance, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and even allergies. Some people even are referring to the gut microbiome as the second brain – it’s really that important!

 

With all that being said, lets talk about how to get and maintain a healthy gut microbiome!

1.      Greens, Greens, Greens

Acidic bodies are breeding grounds for bacteria. Nothing balances out acidity in our bodies like some green leafy vegetables. I know you’ve heard it a million times, but getting more greens is always on the top of my list.

2.      Eliminate sugar and processed foods

I know you are busy, and I know processed foods are easy, but seriously, so yourself a favor and learn how to cook. I get it, its intimidating at first, but you have your whole life to continue learning! Check out my recipes for some healthy ideas.

3.      Get dirty

Our obsession with sanitation is making us sick. Unless you work in a hospital or in close contact with sick people on a daily basis you do not need to carry around a bottle of Purel. Its actually beneficial to our microbiome to be exposed to bacteria and germs. Did you know that children with dogs have a lower risk of developing asthma and allergies? Not because they are exposed to a dog’s dander, but because dogs introduce a wider array of bacteria into their environment.

4.      Eat Fermented foods

Kimchee, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha tea, yogurt and kefir (unsweetened please).  There are tons of great options in the supermarket now, so no excuses!

kefir fermented food

5.      Stress Less

When you are stressed your body naturally discharges steroids and adrenaline which makes your immune system release inflammatory cytokines. The microbiome helps keep our immune system in check, so when you’re stressed, your immune system is stressed, causing your gut to be stressed, which weakens the bacteria in our gut. So stop getting stressed and frazzled about everything! Easier said than done, but there are some great strategies to cope: meditation (my fave – try the Headspace or Breathe App), deep breathing, reading a book, taking a bath, going for a walk sans phone – whatever you do to relax, do that on a regular basis. If you’re chronically stressed at your job, consider why you are so stressed and if a move may be in your best (health) interest.

6.      SLEEP

and be consistent with it. I put myself to bed like a baby – right on schedule every night. No iffs, ands, or butts. Start getting into a consistent nightly routine to wind down and help you relax before bed – and try to wake up at the same time everyday (yes, even the weekends). Our circadian rhythms have an immense effect on our gut health.

7.      Sweat it out

If you know me, you know I love sweating for a number of reasons, but scientists have found that sweating actually makes our gut bugs happier. Physiological changes that result from exercise like influencing metabolism and altering immune function are known to affect the microbiota.

8.      Consider more Plant-based meals

Consuming less red meat and animal products can be beneficial to your gut. These foods are highly acidic in the body and can cause inflammation and intestinal diseases. Studies have even shown that the microbiota of meat-eaters versus vegetarians and vegans produces more of a chemical that is associated with heart disease.

Food for thought…

2017 Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

Twenty of my favorite things that are sure to please the health addict on your list. 

I've tried to include things that go beyond the holiday season - less "things" and more experiences or gifts that will impact someone's life beyond December.

Know that gifting doesn't have to be expensive - often times the most thoughtful gifts can cost nothing at all. Make an "I Love You Jar" for your sweetie filled with little heart papers on reasons why you love them. That will surely brighten their day far beyond the Christmas season.

Everyone in our family decided to cut it back this year. Fewer gifts, more quality time. Less money, more fun. My mother-in-law had a beautiful idea: Pick one gift for yourself, one gift as a couple (but more of an experience, trip, activity to do together), and then one family trip together. No sweat about money, just enjoy the holiday's and everyone's company. I love that. <3

Without further adieu, here are my top healthy picks:

1.      Jade Roller – Tighten and de-puff your face with this magic wand. This roller improves circulation, improved skin elasticity, and gets all the blood flowing in the face to make you glow girl, glow.

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2.      Essential Oil Diffuser – Breathe in those essential oils, exhale relief…. Ahhhhhhh

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3.      Spiralizer – Trust me – get a sturdy one. Zoodles for days.

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4.      Matcha - Use code “simplyrealhealth” from my girl Sarah Adler. This stuff is more expensive than others you can find in stores, but trust me, you get what you pay for.

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5.      Whisk –  If you’re looking for the perfect gift combo, matcha with a whisk (and maybe a cute mug too) is heaven on earth for your health-conscious friend.

 
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6.      Protein? - Maybe not the sexiest gift, bt I guarantee your health-concious friend will love it (Caution – you may get jealous of her glowy skin so you might want to buy two and keep one for yourself 😉)

 
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7.      Headspace subscription – https://www.headspace.com/login This one is on my list this year. If you have never tried meditation and want to get into it, this is my favorite way to recommend getting into it. Guided meditation is such a great entry point for those who are new to meditation. No sitting in silence trying to figure out if you’re doing it right – simply pick a track, put on some headphones, relax and follow the guide. It is seriously life changing.

 
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8.      Cookbooks – Some of my favorites I’m crushing on this year:

a.      Simply Real Health Cookbook – a no-fuss guide to eating simple, clean food

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b.      Nutrition stripped Cookbook – Whole food cookbook – vegan (but you’d never know it)

 
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c.      Body Love – Great for those who have struggled with food drama in the past

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d.      Slow Beauty – Self-care and slowing down in a busy world (a must for our generation)

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9.      A beautiful Art Print from my super talented girlfriend Natasha - She doesn’t boast, but she’s a pretty incredible artist. On top of that, she’s eco-conscious – all of her packaging materials are recycled, she gives back (donates a certain portion of her sales at different points during the year), and is just an awesome human. Go check her stuff out – it’s breathtaking.

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10.   Shoes – Can’t go wrong with shoed. Throwback New Balance? Yes, please. Slick new Adidas? Yep. Gym to street-style? Sign.me.up

 

11.   Classic Sweatshirt –guaranteed to never go out of style

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12.   Foam Roller - I personally love this one because of the varying sizes on the roller. Great for all areas of the body, and perfect to do while watching your favorite show.

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13.   Honest Co. Moisturizer - My fave pick of the season. #Glowgirl

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14.   Mortar and pestle – It has to be cute if its sitting on your counter, right?

15.   Solve for Happy – Written by a former Google Exec, Mo Gawdt breaks down the science of happiness from an engineering perspective. His fresh take on the subject is a must read, and is truly inspiring after you hear his full story.

16.   Dry Brush - I’ve started this ritual this year and have noticed such a difference in my skin. Its relaxing and perfect to add to your bedtime ritual.

17.   Sakara Life Tea Collection or if you’re feeling a splurge – The Sakara 5-day organic meal delivery service. I love this company, love their mission, and love, love, love their products.

 

18.   Thrive Market Membership – Seriously, their prices are unbeatable. Sorry, but #byewholefoods. For the same price as a Costco Membership you can get discounts all year round on organic, pure ingredients that cost way more in stores.

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19.   Spice Set – Great for the new grad or bachelor on your list. This spice set is the perfect starter kit or refresh for someone’s kitchen.

 
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20.   Honey in the cutest packaging - But also because we need to support the bees! We need bees in this world people! They are seriously endangered, so help the bee farmers out! You can eat the whole honeycomb so don’t be afraid to dig in!

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8 Simple Ways to have a Healthier Thanksgiving

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Ahhhhh, the holidays.

Family, friends, and food. Lots of food. With a little forethought, you can go from feeling like an overstuffed turkey to inspiring your friends and family to be healthier (without a bunch of eye rolls.)

Here are my best tips for staying healthy at Thanksgiving:

 

1.      Move your body

Most Thanksgiving meals don’t start until late afternoon, so wake up and get moving! Running a Turkey trot 5K, 10K or even half marathon (you go girl) is such a great way to set yourself up for success for the day. The air is always crisp, the leaves are beautiful, and you’ll be surrounded by others who want to stay fit. If that isn’t an option in your town, grab a friend/spouse/dog and take a long walk in a park, or even around your neighborhood. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get movin’!

2.      Drink lots of water

Start the day with some lemon water, and keep sipping it throughout the day. Staying hydrated is key to avoid overeating and bloating. Lemon water will also help cleanse your system a bit in preparation for the big meal!

3.      Plan

Decide in advance what you’re most looking forward to eating. Pie? Stuffing? Potatoes? Pick one (or two things) that you really want to eat, and go lighter on the other options. Decide in advance how you picture your plate to look. This will help keep you from overdoing it.

4.      Focus on things other than food

One of my favorite traditions at my husband’s family’s house is we all stand in a big circle before we eat. Each person says something they are thankful for and then we pray before eating. It’s such a great tradition and it's always funny to hear what the little ones are thankful for.

Remember, while food is often the focus at most holiday parties, the real reason we are together is for family, love, and thanksgiving. Focus on what you are Thankful for this year (besides the abundance of food)

5.      Eat breakfast

Don’t starve yourself all day waiting for the big meal. Keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day will help keep you from gorging at meal time. Oh, and don’t forget to slow down when you’re eating. If you finish your plate in under 10 minutes, you’re eating way too fast honey.

6.      Easy on the apps

You don’t need 1 lb. of cheese and crackers before the meal. Pick a few things and enjoy them while visiting with family and friends

7.      Contribute

Offer to bring a dish (or two). Not only will you be super helpful, but you can then control the ingredients. This year I’m bringing a gluten free, healthy-ish pumpkin pie. It’s delicious, and I guarantee no one will be the wiser.

8.      LIVE

Don’t’ forget to enjoy yourself. Its ok to splurge on the holidays. Just be sure to get back into your healthy routine the next day (not the next week.) If you do go overboard, forgive yourself and move on. Really, it’s one day, don’t sweat it.

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Label Reading Secrets You NEED to Know

I have to admit - this post is semi-embarrassing for me. I'm supposed to know better than this. I realized though, that if I can be duped this easily, then so many others who are even less educated about what is in our food supply are being duped as well. 

I love grocery shopping - seriously, my husband jokes it's my favorite hobby (he might be right). I love just getting lost, finding something on sale, deciding what I'm going to do with it... yadda yadda. Until I have a really busy week and I just want to get in and get out as fast as I can. 

Last week, I knew I wanted to make some yummy soup since the weather was cooling down. I needed some crunchy bread or crackers to complete the meal. I didn't like the options in the bakery, so I headed for the crackers. If you've ever been in the cracker aisle, you know its a sh*t show, right? I was in a rush, the box was pretty, everything else said wheat or multigrain, or just looked gross, but theeesseeee - these were made with REAL chickpeas! They're even called Good Thins! Great - popped them in the cart without a second thought. 

good thins read labels

Monday night I heated some soup up, threw some of these bad boys on the table and sat down to a lovely dinner with the hubs. One bite and I knew I had been duped. These were way too good to be made with chickpeas. I'm all about being healthy, but c'mon, you know when you taste something that is too good to be true.

Sure enough, one look at the ingredients and I felt like an idiot. 

Not only are they not really made with chickpeas, these are just chock full of nasty ingredients I choose to almost always stay away from. 

Now, I'm going to tell you something most health bloggers won't:

I ATE THEM ANYWAYS.

YUP. I paid $3 bucks for these dumb crackers and I'm not just throwing them in the trash. I think its ridiculous when health bloggers make you feel like an idiot for eating something like this. I fully understand most everyone is on a budget. We aren't all millionaires and our entire pay checks cannot be devoted solely to groceries. AND THATS OK.

Will I buy these again? Nope. Am I going to beat myself up for fall prety to false advertising? NOPE, and neither should you. 

I'm here to tell you, we're human, and that's OK. Health bloggers make mistakes (they usually just don't tell you about them).

 

Here are my top tips for not being duped by big food companies:

 

1. Quick scan the ingredients list

if you see more than 5 ish ingredients (and a bunch of stuff in parenthesis) PUT IT BACK. 

 

2. Could you make this at home?

If not, put it back. I'm all for convenience, so if paying a little more for chopped veggies fits your schedule this week - have at it. Is there a sauce you know how to make but just don't feel like it - grab that baby! I highly doubt you know how to, or could replicate Cheetos in your kitchen, so put that back.

**I'm not saying you can never have Cheetos, but trust me, once you start eating healthy, your body won't even want those Cheetos**

 

3. Don't be fooled by gimicky words.

Did you know that "All Natural" actually means nothing.? Its not a regulated term, so its plastered all over everything. Same goes for "Natural" and "whole grain". Learn that labels that matter. (I'll be sure to write an extensive blog post on this later). 

Look for "non-GMO project verified" 

Certified Organic

Glyphosate Residue Free 

 

I'm super pumped about this last one. As some of you may or may not know, glyphosate is a chemical which is sprayed on the majority of crops in this county. Its the main ingredient in Roundup Weed killer and is widely used in farming. Unfortunately, the USDA and FDA do not test food for glyphosate nor do they regulate its use. In numerous peer-reviewed studies, Glyphosate has been linked to cancer, autoimmune diseases, reproductive problems, liver and kidney damage, antibiotic-resistance, and much more. This topic is one for another blog post, but I urge you to investigate this harmful chemical and try to stay away from it at all costs.

 

To sum it up, you must be your own food detective.

I dream of the day that everything is clearly labeled, honest and fair, but until that day, you must do your own research and take your health into your own hands. 

 

Secrets no one tells you about running a marathon

First year out of college, overly ambitious, obnoxious Type-A Amanda decides that a full time job (working 12 hour days 5 days a week - i might add), just wasn't enough. Nope, I also needed to be super fit and have the best body, which required me to lose about 15 pounds. After working out consistently in the gym for a while and not losing as much weight as I wanted (because my body is not designed to be 110 lbs and therefore was rejecting my efforts) I decided to sign up for a 15K race with a friend. 

I am not a runner. I was the last kid around the football field when we had to run the mile in gym class. Actually, I was the kid that was so slow that people lapped me, so I intentionally tried to stay back so it looked like I was on lap 4, when I was actually only on lap 3. Yea, that bad.

To be fair, I have since realized that school's do a TERRIBLE job of teaching kids how to actually run. Setting them off once a year to sprint a mile is not (in my humble opinion) a great way to get anyone to love running. I would imagine that if you were on the track team, the coach probably did a much better job explaining running, and how you aren't supposed to sprint long distances, and that it can actually be enjoyable. But, that's not what happened to me, so we're back at me sucking at running.

I think I signed up for a 5K in college because some people I knew were doing it. I suffered through, but I in no way enjoyed it. So signing up for this 15K was a really great idea for non-runner me.

This time, I actually decided to get on the internet and search for how to train. I got some tips, printed out a training plan, and followed it to a tee. To my surprise, running started to get easier.

Dare I say, I actually started to enjoy it?

The day of the 15K race was great. Running with a friend was super helpful, and she even commented that I was a great running partner. (ME??) We finished the race with a time we were both super proud of. I couldn't believe I did it! I ran the furthest I had ever run, with tons of people watching, didn't stop, and ACTUALLY ENJOYED IT!

This was a huge win in my book. I felt so accomplished. I wanted more.  Naturally I decided to normal progression from a 15K was a full marathon. Half marathon? Ain't nobody got time for that.

Hyped up on endorphin's and beginners brain - i started training for the marathon. I lived in Chicago and decided I would run there since it was known for being a good race. I start marathon training, which wasn't bad since I was already relatively fit from training for the 15K. 

Only problem was I still had the "diet" mindset. Deep down, my ultimate driver for running the marathon wasn't to feel accomplished. It wasn't to get fit, or beat a certain time. If I truly examined what my motive was, it was purely to get skinny. There, I said it. As awful as that is, I was sick of being the "muscular" girl. I wasn't fat, but I wasn't rail thin - and I wanted to be rail thin dammit! 

Anyone who knows anything about running knows that training for a marathon and dieting are two opposing philosophies. When training for a marathon, you need to fuel your body properly, and eat quite a bit more than you are used to. When dieting, you don't try to run 18 miles while cutting carbs, its just dumb. But that's exactly what I did. Training for a marathon and trying to get as skinny as possible was a recipe for disaster. 

I made it through half of the training before my body started yelling at me. I was STARVING. ALL THE TIME. I couldn't stop thinking about food, but i kept depriving myself. Finally, 4 weeks before the race I said F**K it, and started shoveling donuts, burgers and fries into my starved body. I couldn't stand being so hungry any more. I gained about 8 lbs right before the race, and it slowed me down significantly.  

I finished the race, and was proud of myself, but realized that I had no fricken' clue what I was doing, and probably should have gotten a coach, or at least trained with someone who knew what they were doing.

As some of you may know, I have also suffered from depression for most of my adult life. Running made me so happy. It released endorphins, made me feel accomplished, and kept me so busy that it was hard to be depressed. Little did I know that even normal people without depression can get the blues after completing a marathon. 

After the race, I figured I'd take a week off - let my body rest, enjoy some food, and not worry about training. I got bonked over the head with HEAVY depression and feel into a downward spiral. A week turned into a month, the month turned into two, then winter rolled around and there was no way I was running outside in the snow. The treadmill? Kill me before making me run on that death trap. Winter turned to Spring, and I vowed to start running again. I tried, I really tried, but my body was just telling me no. I would run maybe 500 feet and just HAVE TO STOP.

Looking back, it was a combination of things:

First, my body was completely rebounding. I had never really run before that 15K. I went from being a non-runner, to running a full marathon in under 8 months. That my friends, is not very smart.

Second, and I've said this so many times before, your MIND has to be in the right place. I kept telling myself I was a failure, I hated running, I would never be good at it. I just ran a freaking marathon and this is what I was telling myself?! This is how depression works. It makes untrue things seem so real that you believe them. It SUCKS.

A whole year went by, and I hadn't run more than .25 miles in a single jaunt. I kept telling myself I hated running - and guess what? I truly started hated running. Without even doing it! It's really amazing how much control your mind has over your body.

I finally decided to start working out again, slowly. I would do anything but run - bike, swim, lift weights, etc. After easing myself back into working out, my mindset started to shift a bit. I didn't need to LOVE running, but I didn't need to HATE it either. The more you tell yourself you don't like something, the more you will actually not like it. I've learned that about a lot of things in life. If you just open up your mind to the possibility of something, you might actually surprise yourself. You don't have to LOVE everything, and you don'd have to HATE everything either. Some things just are what they are. LET IT BE. 

I just wanted to share my struggles, because surely some of you have faced similar situations. It doesn't always have to be all or nothing. 

P.S. I'm back on the running train and can honestly say I kind of enjoy it. I've realized that I don't love running itself, but I love all of the aspects about running - I love how it makes me feel, I love being outside, I love getting lost in my music or a podcast, I love seeing new sights on foot and exploring new neighborhoods, I love running with my dog. When you re-frame a situation you view as "bad" into something you can perceive as "good", your whole world will shift. 

Tell me below: How do you feel about running? What's something in your life that you don't like doing that you could reframe as something positive? I'd love to hear your thoughts and struggles. 

 

Health, happiness, and maybe some running,

Amanda

 

What this manifestation stuff is all about and how to do it.

Image via Sakara.com

Image via Sakara.com

With the explosion of Gabby Bernstein's book The Universe Had Your Back, Oprah's The Secret and so much talk about manifesting in the mainstream media these days, you're probably wondering: WTF is manifesting? 

Don't worry, I was right there with ya, and I'm here to provide a more down-to-earth version of what seems to be a wild, in the clouds idea.

You've probably heard things like: "What you think, you are", "If you think you can't, you wont", or "I know that everything I want is coming". You've probably thought to yourself, hmmm, sounds a little flaky....

Mee too, girl! BUT I recently had a little revelation when I read that 40-50% of our daily lives are run by habits. That is, things we do automatically without thinking about them. Thinks like, drinking a glass of water right when you wake up, brushing your teeth, the way you shower, etc. So, given that my mind tends to run on more of a science-backed path than a feelings-backed path, I decided to look into this a little further.

I found that what people are REALLY talking about when they are talking about manifesting their dreams, is really how to control your subconscious mind. The human brain is so very complex, and we are still learning about all of the intricacies, but we do know this:  The subconscious mind is responsible for controlling all of our intricate bodily functions throughout the day. The subconscious mind controls our reactions and emotions to different situations, and stores and organizes our memories. 

Have you ever had a "crazy experience" where everything you wanted and needed just seemed to magically fall into place? I experience this all the time, and I'm here to tell you that its not just luck. Sometimes, its God in his infinite wisdom entering into our lives to show us the way. But other times, it is you yourself that can make these "crazy experiences" happen. 

How? You ask. Because what you think about day in and day out, has a profound effect on your life.

  • Are you constantly telling yourself you are fat and will never lose weight? Then find yourself stuck and in a diet loop?
  • Do you tell yourself you aren't pretty enough to find a date? Then find yourself sitting alone on your couch on Friday night?
  • Do you constantly think about how you don't have enough money even though you know you could change a few spending habits? Then find yourself at the end of the month, broke. Again. 

Ladies, what you think about is seriously what you become. So I urge you, start thinking more positively about yourself and others. It really can change your life. 

How this looks, #OnTheReg:

Practice Gratitude

  • start a gratitude journal or say out loud 3 things you are grateful for each evening. Bonus points if you share with a friend/partner.

Be Positive

  • Your subconscious mind can literally not process negatives. For instance, if you say: "I hate working out!" You brain here's "Don't workout!". Instead, focus on the positive: "Working out makes me feel happy/acomplished/sexy afterwards" or "Working out is part of my day" 

Meditate

  • I find that sitting in silence is still VERY hard. What I do instead: @headspace and @breathe are two GREAT apps that provide guided meditation. Many have themes, so you can choose ones that lead you to think positive thoughts instead of negative ones. Guided meditation is a total game changer and one way you can drastically improve your life in a short amount of time. 

Practice Goal Setting

  • If you feel like you are just drifting through life, you need some concrete goals my friend! Whether it is running a race, going for the next promotion at work, or getting in shape once and for all - goal setting is a must! I personally think setting overarching long term goals, followed by a 6-8 week mini-burst is a sure fire way to get  things done. When you have time to set aside, grab your notebook or laptop and just brainstorm everything you want in life. Don't hold back. Write it all down. Then pick one or two to accomplish in the next month. Write out the steps to achieve that, and get working.

Vision Boards

  • These are a little woo-woo, but its a fun little exercise. Grab a bunch of magazines, or use google to find pics of things you want your life to look like. Your dream house, car, vacation spot, clothing. Anything that captures the essence of what you'd like your life to look like. Make a collage, and pin it up where you will see it everyday. New Desktop background anyone? 

I hope you see that manifesting is not just for the ultra spiritual crowd. You too can start manifesting things you want in your life by slowly changing how your subconscious mind works. the more you practice, the better it will get, so stay positive, and know that you are in control of your life and your future.

Resources that I find helpful:

Gabby Bernstein

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Passion Planner

The Secret