4 Ways to Motivate Yourself When All You Want Is To Do Nothing At All

I was inspired to write this post based off how I currently feel on this cold, foggy day.  I’m working from home, and I want nothing more than to cuddle up with my dogs and hibernate.  However, that’s not an option as work has to be done. So, what do I do to motivate myself?  Here are some tips that work for me, so if you can relate to what I’m saying, please try these suggestions out!

 

1. Eat fat. 

Our brains are made up of about 60% fat and need fat to promote clear thinking and focus. Outdated research suggested people stay away from products containing fat, so for me growing up I typically ate fat-free products.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am to now know that healthy fats are actually an essential part of our diet.  Foods like avocado, salmon, coconut oil, organic grass-fed butter and egg yolks are all examples of healthy fats that most people should consume on a daily basis.  I personally don’t eat much dairy, but it makes me sad that I deprived myself of the delicious goodness that is whole milk and 2% Greek yogurt for so many years.  Fat-free products not only taste unsatisfying, but they are typically packed with preservatives and hidden sugars in attempt to improve flavor.  By eating more fat, especially earlier in the day, you can power your brain, enhance learning and memory, and protect yourself again future brain diseases.

To give you an idea of how I fit fats into my diet, here is an example of what I might eat in a day:

Early Morning Meal — My Daily Green Smoothie, which always includes chia seeds and hemp seeds

Breakfast — Two eggs fried in either ghee or coconut oil with vegetables sautéd in either coconut oil or olive oil over rice.

Lunch — Mixed green salad with avocado and a little olive oil with lemon and lime for dressing.

Snack — Apple with almond butter.

Dinner — Baked salmon with steamed broccoli over quinoa.

Fat sources for the day = chia seeds, hemp seeds, egg yolks, ghee, coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, almond butter and salmon.  If you focus on eating whole foods, it’s not so hard to get your daily fat!

 

2. Experiment with Essential Oils

Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years to improve mood, aid with sleep, energize, fight disease, and so much more.  There’s pretty much an essential oil for just about anything you can think of.  For me, after years of taking pharmaceuticals to manage ADHD, essential oils, in addition to diet, have become my all-natural solution for staying focused.  There are different oils you can use, and there are also oils made of a combination of different scents.  My absolute favorite oil is by DoTerra and it’s called InTune.  It’s a combination of several oils, but it’s my go-to scent whenever it’s time to get working.  Other oils that work well, which are mostly found in InTune, are lavender, Roman chamomile, mandarin, ylang ylang (I love this scent!), frankincense (I love this one too!),  vetiver, and patchouli.

 

3. Use Cannabis

This recommendation might sound counterintuitive and also may not be a solution for everyone.  For me, I have found with certain strains of cannabis that I can manage my ADHD-tendencies.  I do live in California where just about anyone can get a medical marijuana card, so apologies to those of you who unfortunately don’t have access to legal medicine.  For those of you who do, certain strains can actually give you clarity, laser-sharp focus, and can get those creative juices flowing.  Of course, it’s always important to consult your doctor or bud tender first, since they will be able to recommend the best strains for your specific needs, but definitely ask if cannabis can be a good solution for you too.

 

4. Set Daily Goals 

There’s something about writing out your daily to-do list that makes it much easier to get work done during the day.  I think it’s because lists hold you accountable and help with time management.  I actually prefer to write my list the night before, so that I can know exactly what needs to be done when I wake up the following day.

The other part of goal setting, especially when you’re feeling unmotivated, is to set what I call “power hour” goals.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be an hour, but what I’ll do is set a timer for typically about 20-30 minutes and during this time I have to stay completely focused on one task, like writing a blog post.  When my timer goes off I then allow myself a five minute break to walk around and stretch. Sometimes on my break I even let myself check Facebook 🙂  The point is that this system forces my lazy brain to work hard with the promise of a reward.  Because I get to take breaks I don’t get burnt out this way, not to mention I get in a little exercise!

 

For more tips like these, please leave a comment or drop me a line on my website.  Let’s talk!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Have Rushing Woman Syndrome?

 

I am a big fan of Dr. Libby Weaver. She is a Nutritional Biochemist who piqued my interest in hormones and women’s health.  Take Dr. Weaver’s quiz in the video and find out if you’re a rushing woman (or man).

If you discovered you are a rushing woman, then let’s talk!  I work with women on nutrition and stress management.

4 Tips For More Restful Sleep

If you feel that a full night of rest isn’t really important, think again.  Without restful sleep and enough of it, your entire health suffers.  Sleep is important for youthful skin, mental clarity, a strong immune system and for maintaining a healthy weight.  Not to mention you’ll make healthier food and lifestyle choices then if you’re tired and lacking motivation.  Even if you eat well and exercise enough, but just aren’t seeing the results you desire, it could be your sleep to blame.

 

Minimize Media Time

It seems most people are on their phones all day.  I am like most people, except that once I realized that the light emitted from my phone (along will all my other devices) impacts sleep quality, I replaced checking my phone or computer before bed with better habits. What happens is that our electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs all produce artificial light. When exposed to this light in the evenings, our bodies circadian rhythm is thrown off.  During the day, these blue lights are actually meant to keep us alert, but at night they are harmful to our health.  These artificial lights will disrupt the secretion of melatonin, the sleepy-time hormone that influences our circadian rhythm.  A lack of melatonin and working the night shift has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity (source: Harvard Health Publications).

So, what to do?  Minimize exposure to blue light at least an hour before bed.  You can also install dim red lights which have the least impact on melatonin and circadian rhythm. You can also purchase a pair of ultra-sexy, blue-blocking glasses.  They actually aren’t cute at all, but if you’re someone who has to be on your computer or up working late, I’d definitely consider buying a pair.

1. Create Calming Nighttime Habits

So now that you won’t be using your electronics before bed, you’ll need a replacement nighttime routine.  Instead of browsing Facebook in the evenings for probably the 100th time that day, I have some tips of other things to do.  Remember those things called books?  Try reading one.  Had a stressful day and have a ton of things on your mind? Journal or try coloring in a coloring book.  Feeling achy?  Take a warm shower or bath.  Have a significant other?  Talk to them.  Or try some of these other recommendations below.

2. Use Essential Oils

I have an essential oil for nearly every situation or ailment, but nighttime is when I use my oils the most.  Lavander, chamomille, ylang ylang, cedarwood, bergamot, and sandalwood are some of my personal favorites for calming my body.  There are a few ways to use essential oils, although my preferred methods are to diffuse them into the air using a diffuser, or use them topically on the soles of my feet, on my wrists, or behind my ears (the oils can be used topically on other parts of the body too).  Sometimes I will sprinkle a couple drops of oil on the bottom of my steamy shower so that the scent can rise all around me. Other times I will put a couple drops on a tissue, then rub it over my pillow. Just make sure you get quality oils, like the ones from doTerra, which are certified therapeutic grade.

3. Use Magnesium

Even if you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet, the body can actually only absorb about 50% of it.  Magnesium is beneficial for sleep in that it moves calcium for your bones to your bloodstream, thus acting as a natural muscle relaxant.  If you are someone who really struggles with sleep, I absolutely recommend taking magnesium supplements, bathing in a magnesium bath, or using magnesium oil.  To see what else magnesium can help with, check out its 101 uses.

4. Meditate

There are different ways to go about meditating, so figure out what works best for you.  To calm my mind and body before bed, I like to drape my lavender-filled eye mask over my eyes while I focus on breathing.  I start with even breathing by inhaling through my nose for about four seconds, then exhaling through my mouth for four seconds.  After breathing like this for a few breaths, I then switch it up to the 4-7-8 method so that I’m breathing in through my nose for four seconds, holding it for seven seconds, then exhaling through my mouth for eight seconds.  Try this at least three times in a row.  If I don’t do this, I also like to use the meditation app called Headspace.  It takes ten minutes of your time a day and is particularly great for those new to meditating.

 

Try out all these tips for quality sleep.  If you are still having trouble sleeping or are continuing to wake up feeling exhausted, then let’s talk.  Schedule a complimentary 50-minute consultation with me and we will get to the root of your health concerns!

How To Naturally Treat ADHD

Not unlike most children, when I was younger, paying attention in class and sitting still was difficult for me. When I was 15, I diagnosed myself with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and had a much easier time getting my prescription for Adderall (a medication commonly used to treat ADHD) from my doctor then I think I probably should have. “You want Adderall? No problem, I’ll prescribe you Adderall,” I clearly remember my pediatrician saying. Although my mom ended up taking me to a different doctor who diagnosed me with ADHD before prescribing the medication, for the next four years after that, I took Adderall daily, believing that I wouldn’t be as productive or successful without it. While I did have insanely sharp focus, I hated the side effects. The medication made it so that I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t comfortably socialize, and I couldn’t sleep. But my grades in school improved dramatically enough that I convinced myself Adderall made me smarter and better at school.

By the age of 20, I decided I was done with the drug and the uncomfortable, anxious way it made me feel. When I went off it, my goal wasn’t necessarily to go cold turkey, but I wanted to test myself and see how I did in school without the drug while implementing some natural methods for concentrating. It took a little time, and I know this wouldn’t be the case for all people with an attention disorder, but I’ve found that I can absolutely be productive without medication. I believe that the following natural remedies can truly help with concentration and that either on their own or in conjunction with medication, can greatly benefit those struggling with ADHD.

Understanding the Power of the Gut

Our intestines contain a population of microbes known as gut microbiota. Microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, with at least 1000 different species of bacteria with more than 3 million genes (source: Gut Microbiota). A baby born vaginally gets her first dose of these microorganisms as soon as she exits her mother’s vagina. Children born through C-sections miss some of the bacteria that children born vaginally get.  Instead, a C-section baby gets her first bacteria from her mother’s skin and the skin of the doctors and nurses in the delivery room (source: heathline).  In either situation, from that moment on, everything affects the babies microbiota; the food she eats, the water she drinks, her environment, and the air she breathes. Although the baby can adapt to change, a loss of balance in the gut microbiota may result in dysbiosis (the opposite of symbiosis). Dysbiosis may be linked to a number of health problems such as functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, obesity, and diabetes, to name some. According to author and doctor, Natasha Campbell-McBride, 84 percent of your immunity is located in your gut wall. And if you don’t have healthy gut flora, your immune system simply can’t function optimally (Source: GAPS Diet).

 

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Happy gut microbes

 

Gut dysbiosis is also commonly found in children with ADD/ADHD and other mental health illnesses and disorders like depression, or bipolar disorder.  (source: Epidemic Answers). In my own experience, I have found that by treating the gut, I could get by without medication. Another thing I found while researching is that children with ADHD typically have low levels of dopamine, which is an important neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of calm and well-being. This is why kids with ADHD, while not typically being able to sit still for too long, have been found to sit very calmly for hours on end while playing video games, since playing video games releases dopamine. With all of this knowledge, I now have recommendations for ways to balance dopamine levels and improve gut health to naturally achieve laser sharp focus.

Diet

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Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, and purified water will play a huge role in curbing ADHD symptoms. Eat organic whenever possible, take probiotics regularly, and check in with yourself to see how your body feels after you eat certain foods. There are a number of foods that can typically cause food allergies or sensitivities in people, such as: gluten, sugar, processed and fried foods, food colorings, dairy, alcohol, red meat, caffeine, soy, corn, and nightshade vegetables. An allergy or sensitivity to a particular food may cause symptoms of ADHD. Experiment by eliminating foods from these food groups then add them back into your diet one by one.  During this process, I recommend taking notes of your concentration, energy, digestion, and sleep before and after eating and you may just find some foods work better for your body and concentration levels than others.

Lifestyle

Quality sleep and healthy lifestyle choices will also impact your ability to focus during the day. Most people need at least eight solid hours of sleep, which means you should begin winding down and turning off the computer, television, or any devices with a blue light at least an hour before bed. Try to steer clear of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, as these will impact sleep quality too.

 

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Yoga on a stand up paddle board requires a quiet, focused mind…

 

For both children and adults with ADHD, exercise is like medicine. It helps to get rid of excess energy, and in my own experience, I’ve found that exercise is the only time where I can pretty much turn off my mind. Exercise stimulates cognitive thinking and increases levels of dopamine, thus improving levels of concentration for hours after completion. Switching up forms of exercise, and learning new ones, have actually been found to improve organization skills, and when you combine mind-body exercises with a deep mental focus, you may even get more positive results (source: health.com). I have to switch up my exercises just to stay interested, so I like to rotate between pilates, yoga, barre, running, dance, and weight training.

Massage

Like exercise, massage also increases levels of dopamine, which is the hormone lacking in people with ADHD. The benefits of regular massage for people with ADHD have been found to result in more restful sleep, improved mood, improved social function, improved focus, and anger control. If you can’t go out and get a massage regularly, then try giving yourself a massage. You can even incorporate essential oils like lavender, frankincense, or mandarin into your massages for greater results since aromatherapy can also be a powerful tool for aiding in focus and calmness.

Work Breaks

When focusing for long periods of time is a challenge, try breaking up your workload. I’ll set a timer for myself for 20-minute periods where I power through work, followed by a brief break. During this break, I’ll do anything from stretching to browsing Pinterest, but after about five minutes I have to get back into work mode. I find these frequent and shorter work periods actually make me more productive in the long run.

 

Are you or is someone you know struggling with symptoms of ADHD?  Then let’s talk!  I am a Certified Integrative Nutritionist with a background in holistic health who would love to help you.

 

 

 

My Top Tips and Recommended Products For Glowing Skin

Skin is the body’s largest organ, so your skin can say a lot about your health and what’s going on inside your body. There are many reasons for unhealthy skin, but some of the most obvious are hormones, certain beauty or cleaning products with harmful ingredients, toxins in the environment, or toxins from poor diet or non-purified water. With so many ways for the body to absorb toxins, it’s critical to detox often and take measures to avoid these toxins as much as possible.

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Blemishes on the face can tell you what exactly may be going on inside the body. For a guide to face mapping, click here.

I’ve had a few requests recently regarding my beauty regimen, so I’m going to share with you a few tips for glowing skin, along with some of my most recommended beauty products.

I try to always start my mornings off with my daily green smoothie, and I try to eat organic as much as possible. If you cannot afford to eat organic all the time, check out this list for the produce that’s most important to buy organic. It’s called, “The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15,” aka, 12 foods recommended to buy organic and 15 foods that aren’t as necessary to buy organic.

Drinking lots of water is super important for your health and for beautiful skin, so stay hydrated throughout the day and drink warm water with lemon for an extra detox kick. Hydration and a healthy diet do a lot for your skin, but here are some products to enhance your skin’s glow:

Collagen Powder– To start my mornings off right, I drink my daily green smoothie, which contains lots of green, leafy vegetables, fruit, and purified water. I also like to add a tablespoon of collagen protein powder. I prefer collagen powder to other protein powders because collagen doesn’t have a taste and does wonders for the skin, among other benefits. I’ve noticed since I started ingesting collagen powder that my nails have been healthier and my skin looks younger (not to toot my own horn). Bone broth is another recommended way to get collagen.

Collagen Protein Powder

Collagen Protein- $39 on Dr. Axe

 

COOLA Sunscreen- Whether or not the sun is out, I wear sunscreen on my face every day to protect against skin cancer and early signs of aging. I recently picked up this organic, “antioxidant-infused” sunscreen, and I absolutely love it. It uses all natural ingredients like organic acai oil, omega-3,6,9, vitamins B, C, and E. When I wear it, it’s so light that I don’t feel like I’m wearing sunscreen. Although I don’t smell the rose essence as much as I’d like, this tinted version gives my face a nice, even color so that I don’t necessarily have to use a foundation or powder on top.

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Coola Sunscreen- $36 Amazon

Thayers Alcohol-Free Toner– I love this toner. Not only does it smell delicious like rose petals, but it also moisturizes as it tones and makes my face feel especially clean. I only recommend using it at night after washing your face, rather than in the morning, which may cause skin to get oily during the day. This product may be too much if you’re someone with oily skin.

Thayers Alcohol-free Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera ~ 12 oz

Thayers Alcohol-Free Toner with Rose Petal, Aloe and Witch Hazel- $11 on Amazon 

Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum– Want to know why babies have such plump, dewy skin? Because when babies are born, they are born with high levels of hyaluronic acid, which naturally deplete over time (source: You Beauty). Although this product might sound harsh with the word “acid” in it, it’s quite the opposite. It’s very light on, but has deep hydrating effects. I use this serum in the morning after I’ve washed my face, and in the evenings after my toner.

Best-Selling Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Skin- 100% Pure-Highest Quality, Anti-Aging Serum-- Intense Hydration + Moisturizer, Non-greasy, Paraben Free, Vegan-Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum (Pro Formula)

Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum- $15 on Amazon

doTerra Fractionated Coconut Oil– Most coconut oils on the market work just fine for beauty purposes, but I prefer this liquid coconut oil right here. Coconut oil in liquid form is just easier to apply and spread, but I also like this particular brand because it doesn’t feel greasy on the skin. Coconut oil has at least 100 uses, but for beauty, I like to use it as a makeup remover or moisturizer. It takes makeup off easily, moisturizes the skin, and also helps your eyelashes grow! Check out what else you can do with coconut oil here.

doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil 3.8oz

doTerra Fractionated Coconut Oil- $13 on Amazon

FYI- I have not been paid to advertise any of these products. I only promote products I use and that I would recommend to a close friend or family member. I also have normal/dry skin, so these products may not have the exact same results for everyone.

 

Want to learn more about beautifying your skin naturally? Reach out here to speak with me, a certified health and wellness coach.

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Your Poop

Even though it feels a bit embarrassing to post about poop, there’s no denying that our bowel movements are extremely important. If you want to know what’s going on with your body and your health, then start by looking at your poop.

Let’s begin with the gut. The gut is the body’s second brain. In fact, it actually sends messages directly to our brain up top. It impacts mood, digestion, the immune system, and even how you think. While thought processes like writing or math are up to the big brain, the Enteric Nervous System (ENS), which runs down from our esophagus to our stomach, small intestine and anus, is comprised of 100’s of millions of neurotransmitters that affect mental state and contribute to certain diseases in the body (source: John Hopkins). This network of neurons is similar to those found in the brain and act as a complex circuitry allowing the gut to think independently, learn, remember, and even experience gut feelings. 80% of cells from the immune system are located in this digestive tract, so it makes sense that the colon can dictate your overall health.

Because of the impact your gut health has on mood and overall health, many gastrointestinal disorders like Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome stem from issues in the gut. When you poop, you eliminate toxins, and when you don’t poop those toxins build up and can contribute to disease and illness. Constipation can be caused by a disease, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or from something like stress or poor diet.

Are you pooping enough?

Your poop can tell you whether your body is properly absorbing the nutrients that you consume. Ideally, you should poop between 1-3 times every day, but no more than 5. If you’re pooping five or more times daily, this is likely diarrhea and can be dehydrating. Many people refer to having regular bowel function as being “regular,” but regular really means easily passing soft yet well-formed bowel movements anywhere between 1-3 times a day to 3 times a week (source: continence.org).

The type of poop you make is quite important. Thankfully, there is this handy dandy poop chart to help you identify your stool category according to research by the University of Bristol:

If your poop most closely resembles types 1-3, this indicates constipation. Types 3-4 are ideal; 5-7 indicate diarrhea.

What can you do to become a “regular” and healthy pooper?

If you’re not a category 3-4 pooper, then I have some tips for you!

If you really want to give your colon a good cleanse, try a colonic. Colonics cleanse your colon by flushing the large intestine out with warm water via the rectum in order to remove waste and exercise and hydrate the colon (source: SF Colonics). Some places that do colonics will even sell add-ons with the colonics, like coffee enemas or vitamin B implants.

Diet can play a huge role on gut health. Try adding more fiber to your diet since fiber gets waste to move through the intestines. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber, and I highly recommend my Daily Green Smoothie for a powerful dose of fiber and vitamins needed to cleanse the body of toxins. I also suggest taking a daily probiotic and digestive enzymes. Probiotics can come in the form of food or supplements, but basically, probiotics are good bacteria that are essential to proper gut function and good health. Digestive enzymes will help you get the most from the nutrients in your food by breaking the food down into more digestible components. Even if you’re someone who eats well all the time, if you don’t have enough digestive enzymes you will not absorb all the good nutrition from your food (source: Whole9). Stress, low stomach acid, aging, and inflammation all are very common occurrences that can deplete levels of digestive enzymes.

Because of the direct link between the gut and colon, constipation or diarrhea can signal something stressful going on, whether it’s something emotional buried deep or something going on presently, like a big presentation at work (source: Harvard). To reduce stress, I can recommend a number of therapies which I’ve tried. These include health coaching, acupuncture, massage, psychotherapy, emotional freedom technique, or yoga. There are many ways to reduce stress on your own too, like breathing exercises, regular physical activity (but tailored to fit your body’s needs), essential oils, or a good ole’ warm bath.

I have worked with many women who suffer from chronic constipation. In fact, chronic constipation is a large, somewhat unspoken epidemic. I work with these clients to improve diet and lifestyle and to identify areas of stress or emotional trauma in their lives. If you’re someone suffering from gut problems, or if you would just like to improve your overall health, please set up a complimentary consultation with me so we can review your health history and discuss how health coaching can best help you.

I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals.

 

 

Chinese Green Beans With Pork

San Francisco is a city rich in culture and diversity, which is one of the greatest reasons why I’m obsessed with this city. Because I grew up in a densely Asian-populated neighborhood, my comfort foods have always been any kind of Asian dishes. I love the flavors and smells and have luckily found that many Asian dishes are fairly simple to replicate at home.

My friend and I made a stir-fry dish the other night with green beans, minced pork, garlic, scallions, and mushrooms that we put over rice. It was incredibly easy to make and had the same flavors as the food I’d buy at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood where I grew up. Although we ate this dish with rice, I think it would also go well in lettuce cups for a lighter version, or even with noodles. I found the recipe on Tasty (accompanied by a straightforward cooking demo video), but my friend and I switched the recipe up a bit to make it our own. Here is our version:

c9aaa16c-cf47-4392-a960-e259bc575268.jpgIngredients

-1 lb. ground pork

-1 lb. green beans

-4 cloves garlic, diced

-4 scallions, chopped

-4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped

-1 tbsp chili sauce

-dried red chili flakes (optional)

-2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

-1 tbsp rice vinegar

-1/4 cup sesame oil

 

Instructions

1- In a wok or large pan, heat the sesame oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the string beans and cook until blistered. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2- Add more sesame oil if necessary to the pan. Add the scallions and garlic about a minute, or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and ground pork. Once the pork has browned, stir in the chili sauce and add the red chili flakes. Then add the green beans back to the wok or pan and stir all together.

3- Add the soy sauce or tamari, rice vinegar, and a dash of pepper. Serve over rice or with lettuce cups, or just on its own. Enjoy!

 

5 Ways to Start Sleeping Better

Like most people, I love to sleep, but I haven’t always been a great sleeper. These days my head hits the pillow and I’m out, but those nights when I just couldn’t fall asleep no matter how tired I felt really stunk. I hate the feeling of being tired but wired, or being wide awake, tossing and turning, and unable to get my mind to rest. With our modern world’s media obsession, I absolutely believe we aren’t sleeping as well as we used to, and that technology is a huge factor. I’ve certainly always been that person dicking around on my phone or computer or watching tv or listening to music right before bed, but quality sleep is so important that I’ve changed my ways. Here are some tips to improve your beauty regimen and better your sleep:

1- Turn your cellphone off at night. Ok, do not panic cellphone-addicted readers… Want better sleep?  Then turn your phone off at night!

Our phones produce a light that triggers our brains to stay awake, thus disrupting the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle (source: Sleep Foundation). This causes tension in the body that releases the stress hormone cortisol, especially if you’re doing something like playing a video game or checking your email. Cortisol triggers the body into “fight of flight” mode, which can negatively impact sleep. I always encourage my clients to get in the habit of powering down their devices (computers, tablets and televisions included) at least one hour before bed to get their brains to shut down for sleep mode. I’ve done this experiment myself and found that I do, in fact, sleep better. And when you get better sleep, it makes it that much easier to make healthier choices throughout the day. For example, do you find that when you’re tired and lazy you go for easy food options, like pizza or pre-made sandwiches versus a healthy meal? We look for foods with sugar or caffeine to give us that temporary boost of energy, but temporary is the operative word here because this type of energy does not sustain.

2- Create a nighttime routine. There are so many ways to relax before bedtime, it’s just a matter of finding what works best for you. I definitely recommend cutting back on sugar and caffeine, especially later in the day. Some other ideas to relax include: stretching, giving yourself a little self-massage, drinking something warm and soothing, reading (not on a device!), or journaling. Journaling before bed is ideal and therapeutic because it gives you the opportunity to let out all the stresses and thoughts bouncing around your head that could potentially keep you awake at night. I spend that time reflecting on my day, writing down what I’m grateful for, and like I said, just writing whatever is on my mind. One other thing I’ve found that works wonders for me is using essential oils. Lavender oil in particular is intended for relaxing, so I will put a little dab of the oil on my pillow or in my oil diffuser to get me bed-ready. Lavender eye pillows are also very soothing.

3- Blackout. Don’t get too excited, I’m not talking about drinking yourself to sleep. Black out your room at night so that as little light as possible is showing. That includes any lights inside or outside your room, which may also include night-lights or those little blinking lights from your wireless modem or whatnot. The darker your room, the better.

4- Silence! Same idea as #1 and #3. Just like light, sounds are distracting and keep your brain active, so try not to fall asleep with a movie or music still on. If so inclined, you could invest in a white noise maker. If sound is something you can’t control, such as noises from the street or a noisy roommate, ear plugs might be helpful.

5- Get naked. Cooler temperatures trigger the “let’s sleep now” response in your body, so while you could go light on the comforter or heat, I prefer to sleep naked. This also gives your body a chance to breath and to get in a more relaxed state, since sleeping overheated can also negatively affect your cortisol levels. High cortisol affects other aspects of your health, like anxiety levels, weight gain, unhealthy food cravings, etc.images

 

 

Want to get even better beauty sleep and health? Visit my website and schedule a complimentary health coaching consultation with me so we can find out what works best for your lifestyle.

5 Cooking Tips For the Novice Chef

I am a self-proclaimed, self-taught chef. Six years ago there were about three things I could do in the kitchen: pour myself cereal, cook instant mac and cheese, and make a salad. It really wasn’t until I started dating my boyfriend back in college that I decided I needed to add some dishes to my repertoire. It all started one summer, the summer I fell in love, that I started whipping up pesto pasta with spicy sausages. Literally I made this about 10 times in just a couple weeks, eagerly trying to perfect this relatively simple dish. When Ed and I look back at that summer we refer to it as the summer of pesto pasta. I overdid it, but I wanted to teach myself to cook and to cook well.

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Now I can cook other stuff!

For the novice, or possibly even the more experienced chef, I’d like to share some tips I picked up along the last six years that have advanced my cooking and overall attitude towards being in the kitchen. Just remember, cooking takes time and lots of patience, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I’ve certainly messed up my fair share of dishes, but those mistakes were valuable in helping me improve.

1- Know when to salt. Depending on what you’re preparing there is a proper time to salt. For pasta, rice, and meat, salt before cooking to boost flavor. Aka, for the pasta and rice, toss in salt before bringing the water to a boil. Mushrooms and beans should take salt at the end of the cooking process. For onions, it is a matter of preference. If you enjoy your onions browned and caramelized, add salt at the end of cooking. Conversely, if you like your onions soft and translucent, add salt earlier on (Source: Organic Authority).

2- Use the healthiest pans out there. I grew up using teflon pans because they were so easy to clean, however, I’ve since learned that teflon is some of the worst cookware out there. It releases toxic chemicals into the food and air when you cook, especially if you scratch it, so why not avoid that and use better pots and pans?  Avoid teflon, aluminum and copper, and use cast iron, stainless steel, or enamel. I am a huge advocate of cast iron. Not only does it add iron to your diet when you cook with it and heat food faster, but I also personally think it makes food taste exceptionally good. Especially fried eggs (I love eggs!). The best fried eggs can be made in cast iron by frying it with a little oil, then steaming it by adding a tiny bit of water and covering it with a lid for a couple minutes. You’re welcome.

13.25 Inch Cast Iron Skillet

I like cast iron cookware by Lodge

3- Use a variety of cooking methods. Steam, sauté, sear, boil, roast, bake, raw… there are so many ways to enjoy your food. Switch up the way you prepare your meals, because cooking tends to reduce the vitamin content of the food, since some vitamins are sensitive to heat, water and air.Try eating your vegetables raw, especially in the hot, summer months.

4- Use your microwave minimally. Of course using a microwave is convenient, but using a microwave isn’t the healthiest. Not only does the radiation from microwaving change the molecules in our food and substantially reduce the nutrients, it can also release toxins if using plastic to reheat your food. It’s actually been found that cooking vegetables in a microwave reduces the number of nutrients by 97% (source: Natural News). I know, I can be lazy too, but try reheating your meals at a low temperature in the oven or on the stove top, or at least use glass containers or microwave-safe dishes if you need to microwave.

jennifer lawrence fire american hustle microwave

5- Prep all your food when you get home from grocery shopping. This sounds like a pain, but it actually will save you time and effort during the week. I like to salt and pepper my meat before I put it away in the fridge or freezer, wash and chop all my fruits and veggies, and maybe make a pot of whole grains to last me a few days. This way I can reach in the fridge and grab pre-made or pre-prepped items without having to always pull out the cutting board. This also saves on clean up time!lemons

 

Have additional tips for the novice chef?  I’d love to hear them! Want more tips and health info? Subscribe to my newsletters!

Five Tips for Winter Weight Loss

By now you are two weeks deep into your New Years Resolution. At this point you are either killin’ it with your goals, forgotten all about them, or are somewhere in between. Of course, if your goal has to do with weight loss, January is not the most ideal time to start this mission. Not only are humans programmed to eat differently in the winter and to store fat for survival, our Vitamin D and Serotonin levels drop, which are both partially responsible for regulating appetite control (source: The Week). While storing fat for survival isn’t really necessary for the modern person, it’s still coded in us, and can make weight loss at this time more difficult. Not to mention while our ancestors were out fighting the brutal cold, we are inside sitting at our computer moving less. If your resolution (or whatever you’re calling it) has to do with weight loss, then try some of these tips:

Add in more vegetables, whole grains, and protein to naturally crowd out unhealthier056dc8b9-0d45-4361-9623-ac8de532a497 foods. The more you can fill up on healthy, whole foods, the less room you’ll have in your stomach for junk. Everyone is different, so while you may thrive on a high-carb diet, others might do best on a high-protein diet. Experiment for yourself and find what works best for YOUR body. Whatever you find, stick to warm, grounding foods in the winter and try as much as possible to eliminate processed foods, soda, and sugar from your diet to see weight loss results.

Eat more sweet vegetables. If you’re at all like me and get crazy sugar cravings, then try incorporating some sweet vegetables into your diet like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, or beets. I’ve found this helps satisfy the craving, and if it doesn’t, then sneak in a little bit of quality dark chocolate earlier in the day. Because our will power is strongest in the morning, I like to add some cacao nibs to my breakfast smoothie to get that craving out of my system.

infused waterDrink more water. Sometimes when you feel food cravings come on even though you just ate a meal and shouldn’t really be hungry, this can be a sign of dehydration. Try having a tall glass of water before reaching for the snacks, and if you want extra weight loss points, then fancy up you water by infusing it with a lemon slice or some cucumber slices. Lemon water has great benefits for weight loss by helping with digestion and detoxifying the body, but the benefits are greatest when the water is served warm.

Eat more mindfully. How many meals have you consumed in your life without even having a chance to really enjoy or process the meal?  Maybe it’s because you didn’t eat all day and by the time you eat you’re starving, or maybe it’s because your busy schedule doesn’t allow you time to sit down and even smell your coffee, but eating more mindfully means sitting down, chewing your food, breathing as you eat, and really appreciating the meal. It’s not unusual in our fast-paced society to just scarf down a meal (sometimes even on the go!), so just make a bigger effort to give yourself enough time to eat. The slower you eat the greater chance your brain has to catch up and realize when it’s full. This is often the cause for overeating when you eat so fast that your mind doesn’t catch the moment it should be signaling you to stop eating. If you want a book full of tips on how to eat more mindfully, check out this book by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Switch up your workout. I’ve found that switching up my work out has incredible results for weight loss. Changing things up gives your body a challenge and helps you work the various muscles, versus doing the same routine and plateauing with your weight loss. Although I’ve learned by now that abs are truly made in the kitchen, exercise is still important for weight loss, plus mental and physical strength.Sweat Ladies, I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LIFT WEIGHTS! Weight lifting gets you toned and builds strength without bulking up, not to mention it’s important for bone health. Mix this into your workout at least a couple times a week if possible, and try out some other fun exercises like walking, dancing, barre classes, pilates, swimming, etc. If you don’t really know where to begin with your exercise regime, I like to tell my clients to think back to what activities they loved doing as kids. Quite often the same activities we loved as kids still are fun for us now, especially if you can find a workout buddy to do them with. I’d also like to note that you should listen to your body. If you’re feeling burnt out, or if you just did an intense workout the day before, do not be afraid to do a restorative yoga class or go for an easy walk, something that still gets you moving without overdoing it.

 

If you found this post inspiring, or if you have tips of your own, please share in the comment section! Just remember to keep a positive attitude with your weight loss goals, because weight loss doesn’t just happen over night.
Learn to fall in love with the process and the results will come!