Simplify your Success in 2013 ~ Build a Healthy Day First

resolutions

"... Create World Peace..."

This is it.

The New Year is here… and it’s time for lofty goals and aspirations!

One impressive list of promises made to yourself may work for you. For me? Not so much.

Well, not exactly…

Like most folks, I find that life can tend to take us off track. Nothing wrong with that. That’s what makes it life. The challenge arises when our original list of promises may have been too lofty (unrealistic, overwhelming, etc.) in the first place that it’s difficult to climb back on the ride once we’ve fallen off.

Vague, negative, and immeasurable are the kisses of death when it comes to goal-setting. “Lose weight”, “quit smoking”, and “drink less” are common New Year’s Resolutions that don’t tend to have much lasting power for most folks! I like to get a wee bit more specific with intentions like that… and more proactive.

I do love being a co-creator and co-designer of my life, so the New Year is a time that shines with natural excitement for this opportunity.

I love sitting down at the start of a New Year and assessing my annual goals, intentions and aspirations. I write these out in a fresh, new journal each year. Then, based on where I’m headed over the next year, I create the appropriate quarterly plans and action steps that will move me in the direction of my desired outcome.

These quarterly plans and actions get chunked down to monthly, weekly, and daily plans and action steps.

“Have a plan… then work the plan.”

For me, it all comes down to action steps – any time of the year.

One strategy I began utilizing a couple years ago has been key to my overall success with staying on track with healthy choices. Not perfectly… “overall”. Note the difference!

I make a list of all the healthy choices (action steps) I should/could make in any given day in order to create better health and to offset the risk of chronic & degenerative illness.

This list is comprised of realistic, achievable items. Things I can do right now.

I’m definitely a checklist kinda’ person. If I see a list, it beckons me to complete the items on it so I can feel the pleasure of the accomplishment.

 

the real, live list... messy-ness & all!

So, this simple little list of mine includes action steps and choices relating to:

  • the food I eat – e.g. eat veggies (especially greens) with 3 meals, have at least 3 tbsp of coconut oil, grass-fed butter, have a smoothie if no time for a meal
  • the supplements I take – varies depending on time of year and what I’m currently focusing on – fish oil, vitamin D, probiotics, etc.
  • the beverages I drink – 8 glasses of water, green tea
  • moving my body – move daily, choose from burst, resistance, intervals, endurance, yoga, calisthenics,
  • walk the dog (and the kids!)
  • spinal hygiene exercises – stretch, move my spine thoroughly, postural exercises, balance
  • relaxing & restoring – breathing exercises, meditation
  • mind fuel – what I read, what I’m listening to, visualization, affirmations, prayer
  • steps I take to detoxify – e.g. take a sauna, take my cleanse supplements
  • get adjusted
  • cook dinner at home
  • go to bed when tired (vs. staying up too late or crashing on the couch!)

I also have some notes about things I need to eliminate or minimize (sugar, grains, alcohol, bad fats, conventional meat and dairy, etc.). Not as easy to “check these off the list” as it is some of the others. Just sayin’. These types of “avoid” choices require your attention for the entire day. You have to choose to avoid, then choose it again… and again.

The “proactive” choices are easier in the sense that you do them, then check ‘em off the list!


WAIT!

I don’t too often actually do ALL the things on the list in any given day! I choose from the list in order to create a healthy day. Big difference! I do try to accomplish as many items as possible, though.

For me, the beauty of a list like this is its simplicity.

It’s comprised of single items I can directly control by taking action. Simple.

It’s posted out in the open (right next to our bed) for me to easily refer to. Simple.

In the past, when I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed, or “under-healthy”, I simply look at the list to see what I could add to my day to add more “health”.

Here’s the beauty – if and when you fall off track with your healthy choices, getting back ON track is much easier when all it takes is adding a few items from your list to your day.

A day with 5 minutes of intentional movement and a big glass of water is better than a day without!

Of course, the magic really happens when you can string together many of the items on your list in any given day. Then, string together a couple days… then a few days. You get the picture.

In order to master this thing called “a healthy lifestyle”, you’ve first got to be able to know how to create a healthy DAY!

So, on January 15th, if you find yourself off track with your New Year’s Resolutions, you can simply refer to a simple list of healthy choices and begin adding them to your day… right away. No reason to pout or have a pity party over the whole Resolution bust. Get over it!

Health begins by making one healthy choice… and another… and another.

 

Find your groove and the methods that work for you in the co-creation of your New Year! Let me know how you like to get on track and stay on track at this time of year. I’d love to hear!

 

Why Bio-Identical Hormones and Hormone Creams Can Be Dangerous

female headache

When we hear the word “hormones”, many of us still think of “female” hormones… and female “issues“… and cranky, emotional women at “certain times of the month”.

It’s not exactly a compliment to be referred to as “hormonal”, now is it?!

In reality, hormones are serious business.

They are critical components of our body’s master communication systems, transmitting messages from various glands to the appropriate receptor sites on cells in order to create the desired outcome. Each hormone has a very specific receptor site on the cell membrane made just for it. It’s like a little garage made especially for one kind of car.

It’s an incredibly intricate and brilliant design. Of course.

Hormones are involved in every physical, mental, and emotional function, not just the feisty female ones, for cryin’ out loud! What century do we live in, anyway?!

Boys and men wouldn’t exist without hormones.

(Some say the same is true of boys and men without women… but I digress…)

Anyhow, the point of this little article IS actually related to “female” hormones and hormonal imbalances.

It’s estimated that close to 90% of the women in this country experience some type of hormonal imbalance or dis-regulation. Wow! You’d think, with that many of us afflicted, that ‘medicine’ would have come up with some solid solutions by now.

Conventional medical treatment often involves hormone replacement therapy, or giving birth control pills, or removing the female reproductive system… or some other way of altering hormone production.

For some, this might be the solution.

Some women opt to forgo these treatment approaches and, instead, choose seemingly safer options like bio-identical hormone replacement or over-the-counter progesterone creams or various self-medicating options.

Most are still attempting to alter or balance the hormones themselves (estrogen and progesterone being the two biggies).

Here’s a twist to the plot…

What if our hormonal issues weren’t actually “hormonal” at all? What if the cause of the hormone imbalance was actually deeper… or “higher upstream”, so to speak?

What if the vast majority of them were actually TOXIN related?

Hmmm…

Then how would artificially tweaking our hormone levels have any real, or lasting success?

Right. It wouldn’t for an overwhelming number of women.

In fact, if you’re not addressing the cause for the hormonal dis-regulation in the first place, you could be creating even more trouble for yourself.

Here’s a brief physiology lesson that will help explain why toxicity must be considered as a potential cause of hormone issues… and pretty much any other health issue!

Your endocrine system is the system responsible for secreting various hormones throughout the body. This system is under the control of the pituitary, which is under the control of the hypothalamus – both in your brain. Your pituitary also regulates other major endocrine glands such as your thyroid and adrenal glands.

Your hypothalamus/pituitary is like the “Houston Control Center”!

There are some toxins that are capable of crossing your “blood brain barrier” and can wreak havoc on this control center. One prevalent example is mercury.

In case you didn’t know, mercury has no business being in our bodies, let alone our brains! Unfortunately, anyone who has silver dental fillings/amalgams (or if your mother had them while you were in the womb), who has been vaccinated, who has received the flu shot, who has worked in a dental office for a long period of time, etc. most likely has mercury in their system. Studies demonstrate that this mercury has an affinity for the hypothalamus/pituitary area of the brain. When mercury tweaks the integrity of your “control center”, the output from that control center is altered. i.e. hormone production and balance.

Additional research has shown that biotoxins from mold or lyme, for example, cause a decrease in certain hormones that are essentially at the top of the hormone cascade, thus affecting the production of every other hormone down the road.

Toxins don’t just ‘swim upstream’ and negatively affect the brain. They affect various tissues and glands throughout the body, as well.

For example, mercury can bind to the specific receptor site for selenium on your thyroid. Remember I mentioned that those receptor sites are supposed to be reserved for the specific hormone it was made for in order for the desired outcome to happen? The garage is made for only one kind of car.

Well, toxins sneak in and take over the garages, so the intended car (hormone) has nowhere to go. (Can you imagine how these freely circulating hormones might throw off your laboratory results??)

Worse yet, your immune system may begin to (accurately) see this new bond that has been created as something foreign and unwelcome… and therefore begin to attack your body’s own thyroid tissue. When the immune system does this, it’s known as an “autoimmune” condition.

When it comes to “female” hormones, estrogen balance is of critical importance, particularly in our modern day lifestyle.

Several environmental toxins alter our estrogen balance and negatively effect the ratio of “good” to “bad” estrogens. One example, of course, is plastics. The BPA and phthalates found in plastics both mimic estrogen and can lead to estrogen dominance.

Does this sound all-too-common when it comes to breast cancer?

Other common environmental triggers for estrogen and other hormonal imbalances are: pesticides, steroids, and antibiotics, to name just a few. We are exposed to more toxins now than at any other time in our known history.

Estrogen dominant cancers are growing in number. Yet, are we properly addressing the underlying causes of hormonal imbalance in the first place?

Although I’ve only scratched the surface here, I believe any approach, whether it’s a conventional medical approach, or a more holistic/natural approach, is woefully incomplete if it’s not addressing toxicity. This, of course, is true of any health condition or challenge.

(I haven’t even addressed the chronic toxicity from physical, mental & emotional, and other chemical sources, such as nutrition! Oy.)

In addition to addressing toxicity (starting at the level of the cell), we can also be more accurate with testing. For example, leading researchers now know that it’s the balance of estrogens in the body that is key to better understanding these hormonally-driven cancers, not just isolated hormonal levels. For example, one valuable test is an estrogen metabolism test that looks at the ratio of “good to bad” estrogens and which toxins are potentially causing the imbalance.

Of course, nothing in the body works in isolation. Therefore, you can’t just look at estrogen and think you’ve got a complete picture of what’s going on. It’s important to know the functional levels of your thyroid, adrenals, and pituitary… for starters!

Are you beginning to see why adding hormones to the mix or applying a hormonal cream may not be your wisest choice? When you alter your hormones, whether it’s synthetically or “naturally”, you end up creating a cascade of events in the body in response.

Plus, you may be barking up the wrong tree… in the wrong park… quite possibly in a completely different city!

I understand that there’s a “time and a place” for some intervention… especially if it’s just intended to be temporary until you really get down to the business of addressing and correcting the cause. I hear ya’. However, just adding hormones, especially without identifying the cause of imbalance, can essentially be like throwing gasoline on an already raging fire!

You know what they say about playing with fire, right?!

 

*** I understand that it can be tricky to know where to start or who to turn to for accurate testing and diagnosis… and then proper treatment protocol. Please let me know if you have questions, need help finding a knowledgeable health care provider, or would like to work with me personally. Thanks to technology, we can work together even if distance is an issue! ***

 

Breasts, Cancer, and the Alcohol Connection.

glass of wine

When it comes to your breasts, cancer, and alcohol, I have some good news and some bad news.

The “good” news will be a stretch for some!

The good news is that the choices we make will determine the expression of our genes.

Uh-huh. Exciting, isn’t it?

Seriously, though, it means that you are not doomed to the same cancer path that others in your family may have taken. Your lifestyle choices, in large part, determine whether or not things like cancer will ever manifest themselves in your body.

More specifically, as it relates to breast health and your risk for cancer, you can make certain choices that will determine whether estrogen is working for you or against you in your body. Estrogen balance is a key player in breast health… and breast cancer, right?

Ready for the bad news? An increasing amount of recent evidence demonstrates that 3 or more servings of alcohol per week may increase your risk of breast cancer significantly.

Three.

That’s really not much. Especially for those of us who enjoy a glass of wine with dinner on occasion. Most of us eat dinner more than three times per week!

It’s not exactly new news… that alcohol is negatively connected to breast health. However, the evidence continues to mount.

The sad truth is that breasts and alcohol do not mix. Statistically, each drink we take increases our risk of developing breast cancer. There are numbers tossed around in various studies, like 2 – 5 drinks per day increase our risk by about 1.5 times over those who abstain from alcohol.

(If I had anywhere near 5 drinks per day I’m guessing it would increase my risk for a whole bunch of problems!)

Other research papers show that even 1 drink per day is statistically significant.

I know how skewed “research” can be, and how numbers can be twisted around to make them look especially meaningful… when, in reality, there’s not a whole lotta’ statistical significance to be found. (The pharmaceutical industry has become masterful at spinning numbers in this way!)
Also, it’s impossible to look at this issue, or most issues of health, in an isolated vacuum. For example, in these studies, what are subjects’ diets like? What are their stress levels like? What medications are they on? What environmental toxins are they exposed to? What are their sleep patterns like? What are their movement patterns like? Are they overweight? (Toxins are harbored in fat cells.) Do they have mercury fillings? Have they ever had major dental work, like a root canal? (There’s a connection to breast cancer there, too.) Are they taking, or have they ever taken, drugs that alter their hormonal production and function? And while we’re at it,  have they consumed conventional meat or dairy products from animals treated with hormones?

We can ask all these questions in the present time, as well as considering the responses to these questions throughout the woman’s lifetime. That’s how health is created… and that’s how sickness is created. Over time. All our choices add up.

So, while someone who abstains from alcohol may be statistically “better off” according to many studies, it’s hard to fully wrap your brain around that possibility is she’s eating fast food, or conventional meat and eggs, or drinking conventional cow’s milk, or doesn’t sleep well, or is always stressed out, or is taking birth control medication, or doesn’t exercise much, or is overweight, or lives in a toxic environment…

And on the other hand, if someone is having a few drinks each week, but otherwise makes fairly healthy (non-toxic) choices… well, you see how the water can get muddy!

All that being said, it’s still hard to argue any real benefit of drinking alcohol, other than the “stress reduction” effects that many hold near and dear to their hearts.

Alcohol increases circulating estrogen levels and it makes the liver and makes it work harder. (One of the reasons is because alcohol gets broken down to acetaldehyde – which is a toxin similar to  formaldehyde. The liver already has a lot going on with our modern day levels of toxicity it needs to process… this is just an added burden.) Alcohol is also a quick source of sugar. Cancer cells love sugar!

If you’re fully committed to having that glass of wine, or whatever your drink of choice is, there are some things you can do to offset some of the toxic risks to you and your breasts:

    • Obviously, drink less… both quantity and frequency. Find something else to drink and something else to do!
    • Make sure you’re ultra-hydrated with pure water and/or pure herbal tea to keep the negative effects flowing right through you!
    • Choose red wine over other alcoholic beverages. It’s true that it does contain some antioxidants which can protect cells from oxidative stress (one of the major risk factors for cancer and other chronic, degenerative illness). Better yet, choose an organic red wine that lacks sulfates and other gnarly toxins.
    • If you’re going to have a drink, forget about taking drugs… even “common” drugs, like acetaminophen (found in Tylenol). This is a tough combination for the liver to process and has been shown to cause disastrous outcomes.
    • You can add detoxification to your ongoing lifestyle choices by doing simple things, like taking saunas regularly; getting regular massages; gently bouncing on an exercise ball, or a rebounder, or a trampoline, or using a whole body vibration platform – all stimulate your lymphatic system to help clear toxicity.
    • Also, eating more cruciferous vegetables and drinking “super foods” green drinks and green tea can help keep toxicity and out-of-balance estrogen levels in check.
    • You can add certain “breast health specific” supplements to your nutritional arsenal, as well. I love EcoNugenics products, especially BreastDefend.


BreastDefend

from: Econugenics

  • A few times per year, commit to a thorough “house cleaning”! I recommend doing a detoxification program that not only cleanses the liver, intestines, and colon like average cleanses do, but a program that addresses the much deeper level of the cell membrane. This is not your run-of-the-mill cleanse or detox kit found at a health store! Contact me if you’d like more info about how to do this properly.

We’ve got a lot on our plates, when it comes to breast health.

Really, anything that could be throwing our hormonal balance out of whack needs to be carefully considered. (That’s a long list, by the way!)

One of the smartest things we can do is to THINK before we take that next drink. It’s a choice, and you’re a big girl. The more healthy choices we make, the more predictable the outcome will be. The more toxic choices we make, well… the more predictable the outcome will be!

 

 

Superior Exercise for Fat Loss ~ Sprinting

sprinting

Ka-POW!

It’s becoming more common, even in mainstream sources of health, fitness and weight loss information, to hear that high-intensity, interval-type, “burst” training is the superior form of exercise for optimal fat loss.

For those new to this type of exercise, there’s no need to fret or to feel intimidated. Burst training can be performed at virtually any level of fitness. It just takes a little creativity and commitment.

For the purposes of this post, I’ll just talk about “cardio” type work outs. Just know, similar principles apply to resistance training as well.

Essentially, all you need to do is take whatever you’re currently doing (or plan on doing!) for your cardiovascular exercise, and add short periods of more challenging, higher intensity movement during that exercise period.

For example, let’s say you’re a walker and you normally go for 30-minute walks. So, let’s shorten that walk to 15 – 20 minutes instead, two or three times per week, and throw in some “bursts” of jogging, or running, or jumping jacks, or walking lunges, or vertical leaps, or jump rope… something that increases the challenge for you noticeably.

You can do these burst episodes for 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds, etc. You just don’t want to go past a minute of full-out high intensity because it’ll begin to change your fat burning efficiency. So, you do a “burst” for a few seconds, then follow it with a recovery period. In the case of walking, just resume your walk. Then, add another burst, recover, add another burst… hence, “interval training”. 4-6 bursts is a great routine.

Depending on your current condition, your fitness goals, and various other factors, you can work up to bursts-to-recovery at a 1:1 ratio of duration, or 1:2 or 1:3. The point is to add bursts!

There are so many simple ways to incorporate this type of training to your exercise – I’m really only scratching the surface here. You can google “burst training” or “interval training” for countless ideas of how to incorporate this type of fat-burning exercise into your routine. You can do it with walking, jogging, running, swimming, cycling, roller blading, skating, cross-country skiing, racing with your kids or playing tag, on a treadmill or elliptical or exercise bike, with a jump rope, while dancing in your living room, etc. Use your imagination!

Speaking of fat burning, high intensity burst training is King. Even though your work outs will be shorter, you’re going to work “harder” (and smarter) and, therefore, you will burn more fat in the long run than you will with longer cardio work outs that are steady-state, low-to-medium intensity.

You will build more lean muscle mass which essentially serves as your body’s fat-burning furnace and results in a higher Resting Metabolic Rate. This, in turn, ensures that you’re burning more fat and calories even at rest, long after your fat-burning work out of bursts has finished! Nice.

Picture athletes who do a lot of sprinting or high-intensity as part of their sport, like sprinters, soccer players, hockey players, basketball players, and so on. They’re lean, muscular… and not emaciated looking.

My hands-down favorite type of burst training is sprinting.

I usually do this outside, but I also do it on our treadmill, if I need to stay home with my kids. I also like to add variety and intensity by doing hill sprints.

I do about 10 minutes of “warm-up”, whether that’s a jog over to one of my sprinting roads, or some brisk walking and then jogging on the treadmill. I spend about 10 to 25 minutes going through sprint cycles. If I’m the treadmill, it’s usually in the neighborhood of 10 – 15 minutes, because I get bored out of my mind on a treadmill!

My favorite routine is to do an easy run over to my sprinting road. Then, I do full-out wind sprints that are between 50 – 100+ yards. I like to start with the shorter ones and work my way up. If I’m doing hill sprints, I usually do 7 – 10 of them and they’re a tiny bit shorter in distance. If it’s straight-out wind sprints, I’ll usually do 10 – 12. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I like to spend a good, solid 10-15 minutes cycling through the sprint intervals. Then I do an easy run back home for another 10 minutes or so.

Outdoor sprints are better than sprints on the treadmill for a few reasons. For me, I crave being outside, even in the cold. Also, sprinting outside is more physiologically effective because there’s more force production involved in accelerating a sprint outdoors compared to on a treadmill.

More work done by the body means more results for you.

Plus, the maximum speed on a lot of treadmills isn’t high enough for full-out sprint. Ours is, because we looked for that when we were shopping around. But I still prefer outdoor sprints. The major exception is when it’s icy and treacherous outside… then, I’m perfectly happy and grateful to have a treadmill as an option.

Wind sprints are one of the specific exercises that are known to increase your body’s production of growth hormone (GH) – it’s a fat burning hormones. This is one of the body’s natural, built-in mechanisms for staying lean, strong… and even more youthful!

How’s that for motivation for getting your buns moving?!

If you’re just starting with sprints, don’t go 100% full out right away. Ease into it. Start with a few work outs at 60%, then 70%, then 80%, then 90% intensity as you work up to full-out 100%. Really, just start wherever you need to start!

If you’ve been doing these for awhile, you can increase the challenge by adding more hills, or increasing the length/distance of sprints, or increasing the number of sprints, or decreasing your recovery time between some of the sprints.

When I do these in the morning (my preferred time of day), I don’t like to do them without much food in my belly ahead of time. But, I have figured out the right amount and the right type of food to eat about 20-30 minutes ahead of time that provides the most energy and gets me the best work out results.

I’ll share that in an upcoming post!

For now, try adding some burst training two or three times per week for starters. Stick to it for at least 3 weeks. Then, let’s compare notes! Tell me how you’re feeling… and looking!

 

 

Treating Acne Naturally. A Look at Clear Pores Herbal Supplement.

skin

Some readers have recently asked for more information about some of the products you’ve been seeing on my site lately. I’m continually trying to find less-toxic health and body care products for you (and me!), or things that will simplify and/or enrich your life in some way, without sabotaging your health.

Sound good?

I’ll do my best to post reviews or additional information in the upcoming weeks for you. Let’s start with herbal cleansing system for acne, Clear Pores…

Here’s a video overview, first.

 

The unique component of the 3-step Clear Pores Skin Cleansing System is the fact that not only does it work to get rid of acne from the outside, but that is also includes a 100% natural herbal supplement that goes to work on acne from the inside. This unique blend of ingredients works to reduce the effects of acne on your skin and then goes a step further to help prevent acne from coming back. Here is a list of just some of these ingredients and how they work together to give you clear, clean skin.

Dandelion Root; this annoying weed that pops up in lawns everywhere really harbors a hidden talent that has been used for centuries. It not only helps on skin related problems such as acne and eczema, but it also has been used to treat gallstones, PMS and high blood pressure.

Burdock Root: is an Asian herb that is used to treat acne, psoriasis and eczema by homeopathic practitioners. It also may work as an anti-microbial and wound-healing remedy.

Aloe Vera: has amazing healing properties that were first discovered during early biblical times. It can increase healing of skin injuries with a natural process that increases oxygen to the skin. It is a cooling agent as well that helps the skin feel better.

Yellow Dock: has been proven as effective against skin inflammation and infection.

Echinacea purpurea:, is really renown for being a remedy to increase the immune system to help fight against colds and flu. But it also can help skin heal quicker. It contains a natural anti biotic and effectively helps to replace damaged tissues from blemishes, scars, eczema etc.

Red clover: is an ancient herbal remedy that has been used since the caveman days. It has been taken as an internal remedy for helping to clear up chronic skin conditions since the mid 1940s.

Sarsaparilla Root: although this root has gained most of its popularity as a beverage, it has also been used for centuries as a remedy to help with skins conditions and can help to treat psoriasis as well.

Licorice root: has gained popularity over the years as a cure all not only for skin problems, but also for coughing, canker sores, infections, and herpes

Turmeric: is popular in the kitchen as well as the ‘medicine’ cabinet. It has anti-inflammatory effects, so it may be used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. It can be made into a paste to treat cuts, scrapes, and skin conditions including acne. And its possible anti-infective properties may help to prevent infection of skin injuries.

Atlantic Kelp: is a product from the ocean that contains many minerals. It is most commonly used as a source of iodine, which may work on mild thyroid deficiencies. It helps to regulate skin texture, an important factor for those with skin problems.

Cayenne: is most popular in the kitchen as a heavy duty spice to make almost everything more zippy. But it has also been used with great success as a pain-reliever. It helps to reduce the pain by sending signals to the nerves and also helps to fights infection.

This is a list of most of the ingredients found in the Clear Pores Skin Cleansing System. With all these powerful herbs at work, it’s no wonder that this system is the number one acne reducing system available today and I’m hearing good things about it.

For more information, go to ClearPores.com.

 

Have you tried Clear Pores? What are your thoughts?

 

 

Is Reading Getting in the Way of Their… Learning?!

Kids Reading... Everywhere!

I don’t know the answer to that… I’m just asking! Thinking out loud. Wondering if it’s even possible for kids to read too much…

Every week, my wonderful little home schooled people sign out anywhere from 40-50 books from the library. And they read ‘em. All.

In fact, they’re usually done before the week is up… especially my daughter. Turbo reader.

Their reading has taken over. We have to kick them off the couch, or wherever they’re reading, to go DO something else… MOVE their bodies!

Other parents laugh when my husband and I grumble about their reading habits.

I know, I know. I’d rather have them reading than not reading. I hear ya.

However, when they start doing silly things like, walking down the stairs while reading, or crossing a parking lot while reading, or reading on every boat ride or car ride, or missing out on incredible scenery because they’re “busy reading”… it crosses some quirky, previously undefined line in the laws of teacher/student and parent/child relationships!

Since they’re both such avid readers, and they recall SO much of what they read, I’ve often said, “If I could just plant amazing literary works and encyclopedia-like material in front of their eyes all the time, I’d have this education thing locked up!”

I do have some ground rules (like no goofy comic books on school days and no “junk-food-for-the-mind” books), although I don’t want to become the “book police”. Shoot, I’m already pretty busy being the food police, the chores police, and the character police!

(That was a joke.)Home School Guitar Learning System

I also “strongly encourage” them to read at least one biography per week. It doesn’t always happen, but it sounds good in theory. They sign out several reading level-appropriate chapter books, as well as books that are just for fun. I sign out a literary “classic” for us to read together each week… or month, however it works out. We also sign out several history-related reference books and supportive literature for the current lesson in history we’re studying.

OK, so maybe I’m part of the problem!

Oh, and we also sign out a handful of fun, creative, artistic, sometimes silly books that we like to read together at bedtime. Yes, my kids are “older”, but they still love this bedtime reading ritual we began when they were toddlers. There are so many wonderful children’s authors and illustrators… I look forward to story time just as much as the kids!

Yes, I’m definitely part of the problem!

The other day, something struck me.

As I was rushing around in the morning, trying to finish my morning study time… so that I could get to my writing… so that I could squeeze in a work out… so that I could get to home schooling the kids… so that I could feed them… so that I could tidy up the kitchen real quick… so that I could finally “go to work” (HA!) in our practice, I wondered aloud,

“WHY do we never get all our school work done in any given day???”

Duh.

When you read that paragraph above, it seems obvious what the problem is… ’til I tell you that the study, writing, blogging, and most work outs all take place before the kids are up and ready for school.

Although the demands on my schedule are silly and definitely cause interferences in our home school accomplishments, I realized that my kids would learn so much more of what they’re “supposed to” learn if they’d stop reading so much!!

Ha! I had to laugh out loud at myself when I thought that!

It’s kinda’ sorta’ true, though…

We’ve wasted many hours of the teacher’s time when they’ve pleaded with me to wait for them to finish a chapter (or an entire book) so that we can begin a lesson! If they’d stop reading their “leisure” books so much, they’d have more time for history lessons, and geography games, and science experiments… you know, the stuff we’re “supposed to be learning”.

I’m being a wee bit facetious in this blog, by the way.

I love that my kids read.

I strongly dislike that their reading has caused them injury because they become SO involved in the story that they run into things or miss a couple stairs! Goofballs.

I wish we’d get more “schooly” stuff done… but I’m learning to live with the fact that these kiddos are stinkin’ smart in their own ways! They blow me away on a regular basis with various factoids they’ve learned from their “leisure” reading. Pretty cool.

I just continue to encourage them to keep their reading habits in check. They need to be able to carry on a conversation with live human beings; they need to play and laugh and dance; they need to do their school work; they need to do their chores; they need to spend time outside; they need to participate in their sports and activities; and they need to practice their music.

Life is a balancing act.

 

So, in your mind, is there such thing as TOO much reading? Please share your thoughts!

 

 

Learn & Master Series

Getting Healthy & Losing Weight When You’re Way Off Track

abdomens

Sometimes, when I’m in a consultation with a new client, and I’m listening to their health history and current lifestyle, I feel overwhelmed on their behalf!

I feel a little bit ticked off on their behalf, too.

The modern day lifestyle that so many of us are caught up in is toxic, toxic, toxic.

As is the case with stress, we can’t “eliminate” toxicity. That’s not the point.

However, we can focus on two things when it comes to improving our level of toxicity:

1) reducing our intake and exposure, and,

2) making sure the detoxification pathways of our cells are clear so that they can do their job of getting rid of accumulated toxins.

(I’ll talk about #2 in upcoming posts. It’s not as simple as picking up a little ‘ol colon cleanse at your local pharmacy and drinking more water for a few days! No, we can do significantly better than that, my friends!)

Recently, I’ve started working with a young mom who originally contacted us for help with weight loss. Since her last child was born, she has steadily gained weight… and lost health. Thankfully, she recognized that something was not right… that eating “right” and exercising more was not the (complete) answer for her.

She’s right. We need to address underlying issues of toxicity, various hormonal/metabolic imbalances, gut permeability, and so on.

Her doctors put her on anti-depressants and ant-anxiety medications because she was feeling lousy about going from a size 4 to a size 16. Funny thing about those drugs – she still felt pretty lousy about her weight gain, AND, she had a new collection of symptoms as a result of the drugs.

As she shared the details of her current diet and lifestyle with me, I began feeling overwhelmed with all the toxicity and the inaccurate (yet incredibly common) “health” advice she has bought into. It happens almost every time I meet with someone new. I just can’t believe what they’ve been told and what they’ve been doing…

Some of the common nutritional and diet myths (lies) she had bought into were:

  • Eating low-fat and fat-free foods because she thought that fat made her fat.
  • Buying only “lean” meats for the fat issue, again.
  • Avoiding red meat because she was told that it causes high cholesterol and heart disease.
  • Avoiding butter for the same reasons, and using margarine and butter ‘knock-offs’ instead.
  • Using artificial sweeteners, like Splenda, because she was told to watch her sugar intake.
  • Drinking 2% or skim milk because she was told that whole milk had too much fat and too many calories.
  • Adding flavor packets of (for example) Crystal Light to her water because she was told to drink more water, but didn’t like the taste of it.
  • Cooking with vegetable oils because she was told that was better than using a saturated fat that would contribute to heart disease.
  • Eating and drinking “diet” foods to watch her calorie intake.
  • Making sure she started her day with something like cereal, or oatmeal, or toast for the “grains” she thought she was supposed to be eating.
  • Adding spoonfuls of white sugar to coffee, pancakes, oatmeal, cereal, and toast because that’s how she was raised AND because her doctor told her the refined white sugar was “healthier” than brown sugar! oy.

Lies, lies, lies. Ticks me off.

To her credit, she had already dramatically cut back the amount of fast food she consumed, and had begun baking, roasting and grilling her food more than frying like she used to.

Oh, and just to add fuel to the flame, she hasn’t been exercising because she’s so tired and feels so heavy, and her work schedule is all over the place. She works at a business that’s open 24/7, and she could be working any one of those 24 hours in any given week. Her sleep routine is horrible and she never feels rested. She admits that she is a very tightly-wound ball of stress!

As I sat there listening to her, I couldn’t help but think how many hundreds of thousands (if not millions) were also eating like her and living like her, thinking they were doing the right thing… or just doing the best they could.

She had never heard (nor have most folks we work with) that the more toxic you are, the more chronically ‘fat’ you become. Fat cells harbor toxins. Fat acts as a buffer to protect our vital organs and systems from serious toxicity. So, until you address toxicity, you’ll hang onto excess fat.

Now, think about how undeniably toxic diet food is! Some of the worst food on the planet is the pre-packaged food sold in many weight loss programs! Guess that’s one way to ensure repeat customers!

Anyhow, we’ve got a long journey ahead of us, no doubt. But this young lady is so incredibly excited to begin the process of re-building her health!

We’ll be approaching her nutritional choices in phases. Phase one is to #1 – upgrade the fats & oils she’s using, as well as #2 – the meat & eggs she’s purchasing. Also, she is off dairy for the first month. If and when it’s re-introduced, it will be a very different quality than the conventional dairy we find in most grocery stores. We’ll move to raw and unpasteurized.

Instead of using common commercial vegetable oils for her cooking and food preparation, I’ve recommended pure coconut oil, real butter (grass-fed, if she can), extra virgin olive oil for no-heat dishes, and a few other healthy fats and oils.

I’ve recommended she upgrade to less-toxic meats and eggs that are from free-range/pastured and grass-fed livestock. Continuing to eat meat and eggs from animals that are fed an unnatural and toxic diet makes no sense if we expect to improve our own health.

The next big step will be addressing her sources of #3 – sugar and moving toward a significant reduction in those. This will include the vast majority of grains (pasta, cereal, crackers, most bread, most tortillas, etc.).

Of course, we’re also beginning to eliminate some of the obvious sources of toxicity, like junk food, sweets, fast food, diet food, conventional soy and corn-based foods, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup…

The body needs clean sources of ‘fuel’ to function properly. We should be choosing from the least toxic sources of meats, eggs, some (acceptable) dairy, some (acceptable) grains, vegetables, fruit, fats & oils, traditionally fermented foods & drinks, nuts & seeds, and pure water.

Cleaning up our diets is one of the most important steps we could possibly take in cleaning up our health. It’s where I like to begin any health recovery program, whether the motive is weight loss or the reversal of a serious illness.

As I mentioned earlier, we also need to address underlying issues, like the health of the cells, gut permeability, etc. We’ll get there!

In the case of this young lady, I can hardly wait to witness her health recovery! It’s not about her (or any of us) being “perfect”. But the more of these healthy choices she can make, the better her health is going to be, and healthier her body composition will be.

It’s so predictable, which is what makes it so exciting!

Less toxins in + more nutritional sufficiency in + more toxins OUT = vibrant health on the inside and out!

* * *

 Have YOU made any of these key nutritional upgrades? How has YOUR health benefited as a result?

Please share this article with others, if you think it might help them… thanks! : )

 

 

 

 

This New Year, Ditch All-or-None Thinking and Stay Healthy

stairs

 

 

Whether I’m working with a practice member in-person, or working with a client “virtually”, one of the most common things I hear people do that sabotages their efforts to make healthy lifestyle changes (like eating better and sticking to an exercise plan) is to think their efforts have to be “all-or-none”.

You know what I mean. It can sound like this…

“I missed my work out the last two days… ahh, I’ll just start again next week.” (and, it’s only Wednesday!)

“I’ve already blown my eating plan for the day… I might as well just have that second serving of dessert since I’m off track anyway!”

With the New Year Resolutions fast approaching, these are the types of things many people typically say to themselves in late January or by mid-February!

I’m sure we could sit here and psycho-analyze all the underlying reasons WHY we do that to ourselves, or what it might mean about our self-worth, or our discipline, or some rotten childhood experience we had, and so on. But how about a different approach? How about we just take positive action instead.

Say something different to yourself and DO something that keeps you in agreement with yourself and the commitment you made to yourself to create better health (and a better body). It’s like climbing a flight of stairs. One step at a time… each one adding to the previous. No need to worry about the step you tripped on at the bottom of the flight… or about the challenging step coming up. Just take the next step.

You’ve got to ditch that all-or-none thinking. It’s completely limiting and does not serve you in the least.

Here are 9 Tips to Ditch All-or-Nothing Thinking:

1) Be aware that the negative voice (self-talk) in your head is constantly trying to have you take an all-or-nothing approach to your fitness and weight loss efforts. When you know it’s there, it’s easier to take charge of your self-talk and say something more empowering, like, “I am better than this. I can do this. My health is up to me. I make healthy choices.” Stay positive and keep moving forward. Take the next step.

2) Missing workouts or eating ‘bad’ on occasion only means you are human. Just because you slipped up does not mean you need to give up. Be responsible about how you “label” that missed work out or unhealthy food choice. You can choose to see the positive, cut yourself some slack, and make your next choice a positive one… or you can beat yourself up about it. (Not recommended.) Each day is a new day to be healthy so just jump back in the game and forget about yesterday! Actually… why would you even wait an entire day, if you don’t have to?! Take action and make a healthy choice right away!

3) Focus on “winning TODAY” and then repeating it again tomorrow. What’s your daily commitment to yourself? For example, do you commit to do some form of exercise each day, drink a certain amount of water each day, and eat more fresh vegetables with your meals? That’s great. Do that today. That’s a “win”. Now, do it again tomorrow. Win! Just string together as many winning days as you can and you’ve got the recipe for long-term, sustainable success. There’s less worry over how much weight you have to lose or how many workouts you need to do. All you need to do is focus on one day at a time (Win today) and making healthy choices. These wins add up to a healthy lifestyle with a body that shows it, inside and out.

If winning a day is too much at first, win a morning… or a meal… or whatever you can stick to for starters. One step at a time.

4) Redefine what a workout is! Here is my definition: anything that intentionally challenges your body in some way, whether it’s increasing your heart rate, building lean muscle, improving core strength, or improving balance and flexibility. Not all exercise needs to be 30-60 minutes in a gym! Goodness, most of us would fail at this, if that were the case!

This was an enormous mental shift for me a few years back. As a result, I don’t go a day without intentionally MOVING my body. Whether you can pull off 5 minutes of focused movement, or an hour… the point is to MOVE! Getting your rear end up off the couch and doing body weight squats and wall push-ups during commercial breaks is exponentially better than chowing down on chips as you zone out and become fossilized on that couch! Or, go up and down the stairs a few times, or do some jumping jacks, or go play with a hula hoop, or walk the dog, or jump on a trampoline, or do some stretches, or turn up the music and dance… you get the picture!

5) Create Random Acts of Fitness by turning everyday activities into workouts. Park far from the door at the store or office, march in place or alternate standing on one leg while brushing your teeth, do some deep knee bends while holding your child, put one piece of clothing away at a time while doing laundry (ugh – there’s motivation to just suck it up and go work out!), take two or more stairs at a time. Be creative – this can really add up!

6) Make your first beverage and meal of the day a healthy one. Have a glass of water before you put anything toxic in your mouth. Choose something “clean” and health-promoting to eat first. This is how you start a “winning” day, without any sabotage yet! Then, just keep adding healthy choices to those initial ones… building momentum. (Oh, and lay off the starchy carbs for breakfast and choose clean protein and healthy fats instead.)

7) Drink water all day long. This one is ‘easy’ to control. You’re totally in charge. Commit to it. Get yourself a quality, non-toxic water bottle you can refill with pure water throughout the day, and start sipping. This allows you to make a positive choice all day long. Plus, this helps you stay hydrated, most likely have fewer challenges with junk food cravings, and improve your overall health to boot.

8) Plan and prepare. One of the most important choices you can make to give yourself a fighting chance for success with your nutritional choices is to plan what you’re going to eat, and prepare it in advance. That means thinking beyond the next 5 minutes, most of the time! Make sure you’re stocked with healthy snacking foods, like veggies, fresh fruit, raw nuts and seeds, nut butters, as well as the fixings for healthy meals to go and meals that are (at least close to) ready when you get home. Of course, part of the plan is to get the toxic junk out of your easy reach! Plan to invest in healthy fuel and skip the junk. The more you plan and prepare, the easier long-term health is to sustain. You already knew this!

9) Find your re-set button. You are human. Therefore, you will get off track. Find your trigger – your self-talk – that serves as your wake up call to get back on a healthy track NOW. Maybe it’s an affirmation, or an inspirational quote, or a motivating photograph, or a prayer… whatever works for you. You need to find your trigger that allows you to immediately change course and get back to your healthy commitments to yourself.

All-or-none thinking is understandable. It’s sort of an easy way out of our commitments.

Just remember who’s in charge of those voices in your head. It’s YOU! Say more empowering things to yourself and you’ll begin to see your behaviors and choices shift more effortlessly as a result. Your self-talk is what drives your choices, after all.

It’s consistently made healthy choices that add up to a healthy life… one step at a time!

 

 

Easy Christmas Morning Breakfast ~ Crock Pot Strata

breakfast strata

A few years ago, I was searching for an easier-but-still-relatively-healthy Christmas breakfast or brunch idea. I like hanging out with the kids on Christmas, enjoying them while they enjoy the festivities. I thought I’d like to minimize my time in the kitchen that day.

(OK, that goes for most days, I suppose!)

I found this recipe for make-ahead crock  pot breakfast strata. It sounded pretty tasty and easy enough to make… and relatively “healthy”, considering most of the strata recipes I had seen involved using a truck load of bread!

We tried this, loved it, and have had it every Christmas Day since!

Spoiler warning: this is NOT a Paleo recipe, and this is NOT a “low-calorie” or “low-fat” recipe (bite your tongue… you won’t see that on this site, anyway!).

I normally get out for a nice run, and a brisk walk with the kids and dogs on Christmas Day. I can usually justify the additional carbohydrate and caloric intake!

Here’s the recipe. I’ve added my comments regarding healthier substitutions and upgrades in parentheses, OK? Thanks. It’s how I usually read a recipe… determining whether or not I can substitute/upgrade enough to pull it off AND still have it taste yum-o-la.

Christmas Morning Crock Pot Strata

Load up the crock-pot the night before and wake up to an easy breakfast. (Right off the bat, this recipe is speakin’ my language!)

12 eggs (free-range, organic)
1 c. milk (raw, unpasteurized OR try it with unsweetened coconut milk)
1/2 t. dry mustard
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. bacon, cut into small pieces, cooked and drained (I use antibiotic & hormone-free turkey bacon, although it’s equally delicious with a good sausage)
1 (32 oz.) bag frozen hash brown potatoes (When I opt for the frozen option, I choose organic. If I chop and dice the potatoes myself the day before, I use organic reds or Yukon gold. I’ve not yet tried this with organic sweet potatoes…)
1/2 c. onions, diced (I like to add scallions as well.)
3/4 lb. shredded cheddar cheese (raw, organic)

Layer the ingredients in your crock-pot in this order:

1/2 of the potatoes, on the bottom
1/2 of the bacon
1/2 of the onions
1/2 of the cheese
potatoes
bacon
onions
cheese

Beat the eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper together. Pour this over the whole mixture.

Cook on low for 10 to 12 hours.

I’d check it when you first get up to make sure the edges aren’t being over cooked.

Makes 10 servings.

 

I whip up a dish of Brussels sprouts to serve along with the strata, just to add a dose of vibrant color… and health!

I know there are plenty recipes out there for Christmas strata and Christmas breakfast casseroles. Do YOU have a favorite you’d like to share?

 

 

Tips for Healthier Holiday Parties ~ Part 2

holiday wine

 

As promised, here’s the other other half of the list of tips and strategies to make your holiday parties and gatherings less toxic this year. You can read Part 1 here.

10) Have something healthier along with the toxic food/drink so that the overall ‘meal’ or plate is healthier than it would be otherwise. Add some veggies, a little fruit, maybe some raw nuts – hold the dips and sauces.

11) If you don’t have to be physically near the food, then don’t. If you do, then hang out by the fresh meat/protein sources and veggies. They may not be perfectly non-toxic (depending on the host’s health choices), but they’re probably a better choice than much of the party food, like chips & dips, desserts, pastries, pasta salads, and all the foods and drinks that break down to sugar so quickly.

12) Sip on water throughout the gathering. Even if you’re drinking something else, add more water to the festivities. You should at least can alternate your drink of choice with a glass of water at a 1:1 ratio. Better yet, have 2 or more glasses of water for every other drink you’re choosing to have. Depending on what else you’re drinking, you can dilute it and/or add a lot more ice. Add some citrus fruit or frozen berries or cucumber to your water to liven it up. Sure, you’ll probably need to visit the restroom a little more often, drinking this much water. I think you’ll manage.

13) Speaking of sipping, if you’re going to drink alcohol, make sure you hold off ’til later (and make sure you’re not driving). We tend to make more “liberal” (lousy) choices when we’ve been drinking… so, hold off. It’s simple math; the longer you wait, the fewer lousy choices you’ll make… in theory! I’m not saying to load up on drinks at the end of the night, either! That’s just silly. Here’s a thought for you: alcohol, with it’s turbo conversion to sugar once it passes your lips, acts like an usher for other sources of sugar and fat that you ingest. Think of it as amplifying the effects of all the other tasty toxins!

Also, skip the fruity, highest-in-sugar drinks and toxic mixes, especially. Also, skip all the artificial sweeteners. Sugar and its synthetic replacements wreak havoc on our overall health, as well as our waistlines.

14) One toxin at a time. In other words, “pick your poison”! You don’t need to do your “socialite nibble” to every single food available! Be choosy. More toxins in equals less health tomorrow… and more excess fat and weight.

Some folks might call the party their “cheat” event. I used to agree with that notion, of eating “right” all week long, then having a cheat day or cheat meal. Not so much anymore. Even these single events when we go off the deep end can mess with our hormonal balance so much that we end up with crazy cravings again and sabotage ourselves all over. I’m not saying “never”, I’m just saying not to buy into inaccurate thinking.

15) No back-to-back toxic events! We use this rule in our home. If the last meal you ate wasn’t the healthiest, or it contained something more toxic in nature, then the next one needs to provide pure & sufficient fuel without the toxicity. So, if you’ve not had a “clean eating” day (or week, or month!), then you probably shouldn’t be adding fuel to the fire with another toxic event. Don’t give up and start thinking, “What does it matter? I’ve been eating horribly all day long anyway!” It does matter. Focus on positively, intentionally creating better health (and a better body) by making better choices starting with this event.

16) If you’re feeling tempted by the overwhelming array of tasty toxins at your finger tips, back away from the buffet! Literally. Step away and go have a chat with yourself. Go to the restroom, look at yourself in the mirror, and re-set your self-talk. If you want better health and a better body, you’ve got to talk a different talk and make better choices. You WILL appreciate this in the morning.

17) Remember one important factor when it comes to food and drink, at a holiday party or otherwise: “Just because it’s THERE doesn’t mean you need to eat it!”

18) If you’ve decided to eat or drink something toxic, even if you end up going off the deep end, so be it. You are a grown-up and you know how to cope with your choices. Guilt will only further subtract from your health. Hopefully, you are able to fully enjoy your experience with family and friends… because that adds to your health, too! Just do your best to make a healthier choice in your next meal or snack.

Remember though, there ARE limitations of matter! And, always remember your goal… better health.

 

 

Tips for Healthier Holiday Parties ~ Part 1

holiday party food

 

 

“Tis the season for holiday parties and get togethers… and the potential for weight gain and health loss.

Of course, it doesn’t need to be this way… even though it has become the culturally-accepted “norm”!

It’s a choice.

I always believe that we make ‘better’ choices when we have ‘better’ information about the choices available, and understand the potential consequences of those choices.

The more toxic choices we ingest, the less optimally our cells will function. The more nutritionally deficient our choices are, the same is true.

Optimal cell function – or homeostasis – depends on a consistent supply of pure and sufficient choices.

If going out and indulging in decadent party foods and drinks (“tasty toxins”) is a rarity, then this post probably isn’t really geared toward you.  However, if less-than-ideal nutritional choices seem to make a regular appearance in your life, despite the season, then you might want to consider toning down the holiday binging this year.

Toxic and deficient choices add up. Sometimes, the easiest way to ‘correct’ the unwanted results of those choices is to avoid making them in the first place.

Hindsight is so handy, isn’t it?

Well, if you think you might have the foresight to think and plan ahead this year, here are some simple tips that might help you through the temptations of those holiday parties, assuring that you wake up feeling much better the next morning.

(Part 2 will follow in the next day or two.)

1) This one is for the idealists out there: Remember your health goals and intentions. If you’re trying to create better health, that will require that you make better choices. Think beyond the temporary pleasure you may feel while consuming a toxin or avoiding a healthy choice… think about the health consequences, not just the taste or emotional impact of that toxin.

Easier said than done. I get it.

2) Here’s an obvious one: if it’s a potluck-type gathering, then bring your own healthy dish YOU will eat! That way you know there will be something ‘safe’ at the party for you.

3) If the party or gathering features “finger foods” or a lot of snack or appetizer-type foods, then consider eating a healthy, well-balanced meal before going. Have a clean source of protein and fats, and some fresh fiber (veggies) to make sure you’re properly fueled before you go. This isn’t “ruining your appetite”… it’s making sure the tasty toxins don’t “ruin your health!” (Or your ability to zip up your jeans tomorrow!)

4) I’d hope you don’t need me to recommend this, but, brush your teeth! Get a little crazy and floss ‘em, too. Throw a little bottle of mouth wash in your purse or bag to sneak away and use during the gathering. Sometimes, that’s enough to prevent you from chowing down on junk. It’s nice to chat it up with people with a nice, clean chatterbox!

You’d think, along the same lines, I’d advise you to chew gum or suck on mints at the party in order to keep the tasty toxin foods out of your face. Nope. I’m not a gum fan in the least. Plus, I think socializing with food (or rubberized chewy materials) in your mouth tends to be a tad rude. Guess I’m old school on that one. Need another reason? Gum and mints steal digestive enzymes that are supposed to be breaking down real food. Also, what’s in that gum or those mints? Rarely is it anything nutritionally acceptable.

5) Keep in mind that you always have the option to say “no thank-you” to toxic food & beverage choices. You can always tell people you’re on a “special nutrition program” or have some “food sensitivities”. No lie! The special nutrition program is the “Optimal Health Program” and the food sensitivities are to poisonous, toxic food!

6) Choose your party attire carefully. Wear something that is comfortable when you put it on… but won’t be comfortable if you over-indulge! Stretch pants are NOT allowed!

7) If you need to distract yourself from excessive sampling, snacking, and sipping, then keep your hands occupied with other things! (Hey! Watch it!) Carry your glass of water in one hand and a camera or small purse or something in the other. You get the idea. If it’s less convenient for you to chow down, you’ll avoid it.

8) If you choose to have some of the tasty toxins, simply have less of whatever it is. Small servings on small plates, fewer toxic choices… you know the drill.

9) A similar strategy is to have “socialite nibbles” of the tasty toxins. You can choose to give yourself permission to sample a limited number of tasty toxins… and agree with yourself ahead of time that you’ll have polite bite sizes. That way, you’re sampling, enjoying, not feeling deprived, AND not over-doing it. BUT, keep it real! Do NOT think I’m suggesting bites of food the way you’d scarf it down on your couch during a midnight fridge raid! Pretend you’re a “socialite” being photographed or interviewed (you know the type). How would you nibble at the food then? Uh-huh, that’s more like it.

 

OK, that’s it for part 1.

Remember, these tips are NOT about being “perfect” or never being able to enjoy your social life again! This is simply about making better choices based on more accurate information.

See you soon with Part 2…

 

 

Healthier Holidays (Kinda’) ~ Candy Cane Red Velvet Trifle

red velvet trifle

A couple months ago, at a family wedding, my cousin mentioned that she made this festive version of trifle for a Christmas event last year and that it was a huge hit.

Her description, alone, made me drool, so I asked her to forward the recipe so that I could give this a shot this holiday season. Just in case I was experiencing a sugar deficiency, that is.

No. It’s not “healthy”.

Duh.

But, I can make it less toxic… and enjoy it even more!

I took a look at the recipe and saw some pretty simple substitutions I could make right out of the gates to make this a bit less toxic. Certainly not “perfect”, but less toxic.

I’ll bet many of you could find even more ways to “health-ify” this recipe… so go for it!

This red and white layers of this trifle are supposed to visually mimic a candy cane. Cute! The peppermint coupled with the cream cheese and white chocolate  add to the scrumptious holiday factor.

For a different presentation, this recipe works equally well made in 6 to 8 individual portions.

I’ll list the original recipe and then show my substitutions in parentheses)

 

 

Cake
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled off  (I use a gluten-free variety, like almond or coconut flour, or even a sprouted flour)
2 tbsp (30 mL) Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder (I’d try organic cacao)
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder (organic)
1 tsp (5 mL) salt (sea salt)
½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, softened (organic, preferably raw)
1½ cups (375 mL) sugar (At the very least, I’d use organic sugar. I’d rather stick to something like stevia. But, the conversion needs special attention – google it for the specifics.)
2 large eggs (free-range/cage-free/pastured)
2 tbsp (30 mL) red food coloring (No way, Hosay. I’d use pureed strawberries for the color. I know quite a few folks use pureed beets for this, as well.)
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla (organic)
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk (raw, unpasteurized)
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) apple cider vinegar (organic)

Cream Cheese & White Chocolate Ganache
1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream (Oy. Organic, raw, if possible.)
6 oz (175 g) white chocolate, finely chopped (organic)
1 cup (250 mL) deli-style cream cheese (organic)

Peppermint Cream
2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream (organic, raw)
¼ cup (60 mL) sugar (see above)
⅛ tsp (0.5 mL) peppermint oil, or to taste

Garnish
2 tbsp (30 mL) crushed candy cane (I would probably pass on this, or at least use the candy canes from the “health food store” that don’t have all the artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors in them! I guess to make a “Candy Cane” dessert, you kinda’ need the essence of candy cane!)

*** In addition to the fresh strawberries, I might add some raspberries and kiwi slices into the ‘layers’ for some vibrant color. OR, since it’s Christmas and not summer, I might just add fresh mint leaves for garnish. Ooooh, and maybe some dark chocolate shavings, too! We shall see…

1. Preheat oven to 325°F .

2. Butter a 9 x 13-inch pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

3. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Reserve.

4. Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down sides of bowl between additions. Add food coloring and vanilla and beat until uniform.

5. Add a third of the flour mixture to the batter, beating until combined. Add half of the buttermilk. Repeat, adding alternating ingredients until all the fl our mixture and buttermilk have been incorporated.

6. Combine baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl, and stir until it foams. Add to batter and mix just until fully incorporated. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then turn out on a rack, remove parchment paper and cool fully. Reserve.

7. To make ganache, bring cream just to a boil on medium heat. Remove from heat, add white chocolate and let stand, stirring occasionally, until white chocolate is melted and mixture is combined.

8. Place cream cheese in a bowl and whisk in white chocolate mixture a little at a time until fully combined. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until ganache is cold and slightly thickened.

9. To make peppermint cream, beat cream with sugar and peppermint oil until it holds soft peaks. Reserve.

10. To assemble, cut cake into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes with a serrated knife. Spoon about ⅓ cup of ganache into the bottom of a large glass trifle dish or decorative bowl. Place half of cubed cake into dish fitting them tightly to make a single layer. Spoon about 1 cup of ganache over cake to make an even layer. Dollop on a little less than half of the peppermint cream, and repeat layers, ending with peppermint cream. Sprinkle trifle with crushed candy canes just before serving.

Serves 8 to 10
If you decide to try this, let me know how you alter the recipe… and how it turns out!
And then, of course, if you actually sit down and EAT this entire puppy, you might want to consider something like this…
 (hee hee hee!)