There is something about the feeling just after cleaning a room. That sense of accomplishment for all the hard work you put into scrubbing. The openness when everything is put away. The smell of clean.
Over the years I have set a goal for myself to wean off of harsh chemical cleaners that are bad for the environment or worse, bad for the health of my family. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping you live your healthiest life, states that chemical cleaners may induce asthma, contain cancer causing ingredients and cause allergic reactions and serious physical burns to the skin.
This does not bode well with me!
In an effort to reduce my and my family's exposure, I have researched a few simple ways to replace these harsh chemicals with gentler more natural ones that keep us safe and also protect the environment. Disclaimer: I am not perfect. I do still have a stash of chemicals such as bleach and bathroom cleaner but use them only in case of emergency (aka the dog decided to take a mud bath and now I have to do a deep disinfecting of the tub and all her towels).
Here I will share the recipes I use to make my own as well as a few resources to purchase "done for you" cleaners
Most commercial carpet and fabric fresheners such as this Febreze receive low scores from EWG because they can cause allergic reactions or induce asthma. In addition, carpet fresheners only cover the odors, not necessarily "clean". On my quest to find a healthier alternative, I found myself in the baking in the baking aisle at the supermarket. I combined 1 1/2 cups of baking soda with 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil, whisked it together and let it sit for about an hour to allow the lavender to infuse. Sprinkled on my carpet, let sit for half an hour and vacuumed it up. It may be my imagination, but I do believe even Daisy Dog acts a little more calm after a refreshing carpet cleaning.
Keeping those Circadian Rhythms in balance is a must for good sleep. Throwing up the blinds to let the sun shine in is much more pleasant with clean and streak free windows. Unfortunately, those bottles of blue liquid score poorly on the EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning. My plastic bottles have been replaced with a more decorative glass spray bottle (I love this one from Grove Co.) filled with a blend of vinegar, rubbing alcohol, water and essential oils. Skip the paper towels and opt for microfiber cloths or black and white newspaper (trust me...it works!!)
All Purpose Cleaning and Disinfecting Spray
After researching different all purpose cleaners and disinfectants, I have learned that many of them get poor grades with an emphasis on the dangers to one's health as well as the environment. Now more than ever, I want to make sure I am keeping the germs to a minimum but not at the expense of my family's safety. These toxic cleaners were some of the first to go on my quest. I now disinfect with a spray bottle filled with a blend of 190 proof alcohol, vinegar, water and a boost of antimicrobial lemon myrtle and pine essential oils. The smell is wonderfully refreshing and it leaves my counters and bathroom clean and sparkling.
Done for You Cleaners
Maybe you are not ready to make the investment into DIY cleaners. As I mentioned, this has been a journey where I have found a balance between making my own, slowly adding to my essential oil collection, and store bought cleaners. My biggest pet peeve about store bought is the one time use plastic containers that even the greenest cleaners are packaged in. Many companies are popping up with more environmentally friendly products that are minimally packaged, good for the environment, cost efficient and\, well, kinda fun (in a "I need to find some joy in cleaning).
When choosing done for you products, these are my go-to brands, most of which are available in stores
Cleaning is a chore, but one that can be made a little more enjoyable with the right products and perhaps a great playlist. You will be able to reap the benefits of the essential oils long after you have put the dusting cloths away.
Will you join me in my quest to use healthier and safer cleaning alternatives and reduce your use of plastics?
Share you ideas in the comments.
Maybe it was the the global pandemic., the overwhelm of my son's recent surgery, coping with the loss of my nephew, the physical pain I have in my knee and shoulder or the feelings of "not good enough" that have me way off course when it comes to my health. Whatever the cause, the consequences and results are too strong to ignore any longer. I sense it every time I put on my clothes and struggle to button the once loose fitting shorts. I feel it each time my sleep deprivation causes a bitter reaction to a simple request by my husband. It is felt in the struggle of wanting to eat healthy but not having the energy or motivation to write a shopping list let alone shop and prep for a week that in which every waking moment is scheduled with appointments, practice, meetings or chauffeuring.
But I have to do something. The scale is up, last years clothes do not fit and there are more elastic waist bands in my closet than I care to admit.
The First Step
I have said it time and again, the first step to change is acknowledging the problem...and it can be the hardest step to take! I am currently at the crossroads of throwing my hands in the air and saying "I Quit" and giving myself a good kick in the ass to "get moving!" Sure it would be easy to point the finger at the current pandemic or sit and feel sorry for myself (pity party for one, please) but these behaviors will certainly not get me to my destination, or even back on track towards my health goals.
So...Consider this my official acknowledgement that I have veered off course and it is time to find my way back.
The starting point
Health is multi-dimensional, and when one dimension is off, the rest become stressed, trying to pick up the slack. It is important to routinely check in with the 8 Dimensions of Health to find where the imbalance is. You can learn more about the 8 Dimensions of Health here as well as download my free worksheet that helps you discover which area may be holding you back from feeling your best.
One quiet morning, after the dog has been walked and the coffee has brewed, I sat with this worksheet and plotted my location in each area. It was no surprise to see that all areas are affected, but my weakest area lately is physical health. My eating habits have been a free for all, meal planning and prep is but a memory and admittedly, my exercise can be narrowed down to taking the dog for a walk and shifting my dumbbells to vacuum around them.
So here I am, knowing my problem and ready to make a change.
It is so frustrating to have to start again as a beginner. However, this is my reality and I am ready to face it head on.
Dinners out with late night dessert and cocktails will have to be reigned in and crowded out with whole foods and water. Exercise will be scheduled each day and making time for spiritual practice and journaling will become a priority. Most importantly, a focus on healthy sleep habits will ultimately result in all of this coming together to make me feel healthy in my own skin and body.
If you have read my previous blogs, worked with me in the past or just know me, you will already know a healthy lifestyle involves planning and preparation. About 1 week prior to the start date, I take the following steps:
In addition to these important steps, support and accountability ups your chances of success. I have always had the best results when working with a partner or group.
If you are ready for a healthy change, looking for accountability or want to take this journey to a healthier lifestyle with others on a similar path, join me in my Fall Health and Wellness Challenge beginning September 26th.
Today's blog comes with permission to share and send to your significant other and children.
Mother's Day is approaching and it is the one day we take to recognize all the work you put into this 24/7/365 job.
There is a saying I try to embrace each day, especially when I am feeling the tank is running low.
Easier said than done, am I right?
Mom's are known to put their children and families ahead of their own health and well-being. You sacrifice your workout to bring the kids to practice, cook what you know the kids will eat instead of the healthy meal you deserve, skimp on sleep to finish housework or a project that was put on the back burner until you had a little peace and quiet. There is not enough caffeine in the world that will replace the essential benefits of taking care of your needs FIRST!
You are an Essential Worker
While recognizing first responders, the medical community and grocery store staff during this pandemic, let's add Mom to the list of essential workers. THANK YOU!
You have taken on many roles throughout this pandemic. If you are not taking care of your essential needs, you will burn out...and then you CANNOT take care of others. It is time to take on the role of SELF!
So, how do you keep your cup filled?
Self Care for Mom
Mother's day is here. You have worked hard. While the pasta necklace and hand print in clay is loved and appreciated, maybe a few subliminal hints to some well deserved gifts of appreciation that help fill your cup is necessary. I have created a list of 10 items I recommend that provide a mom with stress free, relaxing time, gadgets to make life easier and a few "Me Time" ideas. Feel free to print it out and leave in a conspicuous place for gift givers to see.
Post may include affiliate links. I may receive compensation if a purchase is made through these links. This helps support me and my efforts to educate and inspire women to be their healthiest. I only recommend products and services I actually use or would purchase. Thank you for your support of my wellness business.
Self Care is NOT Selfish
One thought you MUST let go of is that self care is selfish...it is NOT!! In fact, it is necessary. If you have no gas in the tank, have depleted your back up energy and are running on fumes and caffeine, you are unable to give to your loved ones the care and love you want to give and they need. Even worse, you run the risk of burnout, adrenal fatigue and metal illness.
Put yourself first, mom.
Give yourself permission to love and care for yourself.
Mother's Day should be EVERY day!
You are doing a great job.
You are awesome.
In case you need reinforcement, give this a watch and then ask your kids what they think about you using these questions from iMom. I would love if you shared some of their responses in the comments below!
Happy Mother's Day
From one mom to anther, I want to wish you the happiest, self loving, most relaxing and memorable mother's day.
Be kind. Hug a lot and tell your kids you love them.
Health and Happiness
Sometime in the 90's, a miracle happened. My overweight, junk food loving self could suddenly get fat free cookies and cakes and wash it down with zero calorie soda. To a girl who could drink a 2 liter bottle a day, this was music to my ears. No longer did I have to feel guilty if I ate a whole box of cookies, as long as they came in a green box labeled "Snack Wells". Who needs to drink water when Diet Coke tasted better and had the same amount of calories? I could even douse my broccoli with butter that I could not believe was NOT butter!! The food industry had revolutionized diet foods and convinced America this was the new "Healthy". Surely "fat free" would keep Americans svelte and decrease the risk of heart disease and other obesity related chronic illness.
Hindsight is 20/20
Today, the rate of obesity is at a record high. Heart disease is the leading cause of death, adult onset diabetes has been renamed to Type II Diabetes since more and more children were getting diagnosed and the rate of childhood obesity went from 12% in 1990 to 23% by 2005.
Oops....maybe my fat free miracle wasn't such a miracle after all.
But how could this be? There was scientific proof that too much fat made people, well, fat. Doctors were telling patients to lower their fat intake. Nutritionists touted the food pyramid and recommended lots of grains in the form of bread and pasta (low fat) and limit meat, eggs and dairy as they were higher in fats.
We followed the recommendations...and we got fat!
Remove the fat...Replace with sugar
Turns out, when you remove fat from foods, they taste gross. In order to account for this, food manufacturers turned to one ingredient that would solve this problem...SUGAR. And guess what. Sugar is FAT FREE!!!
The makers of high fat treats found a way to make them fat free and taste good. So good in fact, the consumer would want..no need...more and more! Once "forbidden" snacks suddenly flew off shelves and filled kitchen pantry's and lunch boxes alike.
America would be thin again!
Do you know what happens to sugar when it enters the body?
When consumed, sugar, the simplest of all carbohydrates, is quickly converted to glucose. Glucose raises blood sugar and triggers the pancreas to secrete insulin, a hormone that help regulate blood sugar levels. This insulin informs the body to turn off fat burning in order to turn on glucose burning for energy. Any excess glucose not used up is stored as fat.
To summarize, the sugar used to create that fat free treat, once consumed, turns into FAT!
But that is not all...
The increase stress sugar places on the pancreas and body has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes...oh...and obesity of course! So much for my miracle!
Sugar also affects the brain in much the same way drugs do. Sweet foods result in a release of dopamine, a reward chemical that signals pleasure. The brain will seek out more of this "pleasure inducing" substance, resulting in the consumer not being able to "eat just one" cookie. Add to that the ability to build a tolerance, a sugar addict, like a drug addict, will seek more and more to reach the same level of pleasure as the first "hit".
Yes...sugar is ADDICTIVE!
Even with this knowledge, our society places such an emphasis on being thin, food manufacturers continue to perfect their craft of making "fatty" foods "healthier". Americans continue to fear the f-word (fat) and take drastic and often contradicting measures to avoid it at all costs.
Sugar in Disguise
The American Heart Association recommends adults limit their added sugar intake to 25 grams per day. Today, the average American consumes about 77 grams per day or approximately 60 pounds of sugar a year. More frightening, the average amount of sugar consumed by kids is higher at approximately 81 grams per day according to the American Heart Association! I wish it was as easy to recommend avoiding sugar on food labels, but there are now over 50 types of sugar that food companies have no problem using in order to deceive or confuse the consumer. Check out 52 different sugars here.
Some say sugar is the new tobacco, and I am inclined to agree. It was not long ago similar tactics were used to prey on the consumers ignorance using deceptive marketing and claims then placing the responsibility on the consumer if they get sick (heart disease) from their product. The company never made me buy and eat those cookies that eventually caused my obesity, but they did not make it easy to say no to them either.
What can you do?
What I once thought was a fat free blessing from above became an addiction I continue to struggle with today. There is one thing I agree on with these big food companies, it IS MY RESPONSIBILITY to keep myself healthy. They clearly are not making any plans to change. It is up to you to educate yourself and change your habits. Take responsibility!
Here are six steps you can start today to begin tackling a sugar addiction:
1. AVOID High Fructose Corn Syrup
This cheaper and sweeter version of sugar made from corn gets absorbed by the body quicker and leads to inflammation. Studies have shown this chemically produced sugar may speed up the aging process, damage the liver, increase risk of Alzheimer's, lead to depression and damage the immune system in addition to increasing risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. In addition, HFCS has been shown to be highly addictive.
If this ingredient is lingering in your pantry, throw it out!
2. Nature's Candy
Fruits and some vegetables are naturally sweet because they contain a natural sugar that is more easily broken down during digestion. Fruits and veggies also come with a powerful punch of vitamins and minerals that support health as well as fiber that keeps you feeling full longer. When in need of a sugar fix, reach for berries or other fruits that do not spike blood sugar. Try and limit or avoid dried fruits, fruit juices or canned fruits as these are often made with added sugar. Roasting vegetables such as sweet potato, beets and onions brings out a natural sweetness as well.
3. Nix the Artificial Stuff
Those cute pink, blue and yellow packets may look sweet (and taste about 3x sweeter than real sugar) but they play a mean trick on your brain,. When your brain expects a sugar "hit" and you send in an impostor, the brain will get angry and start sending signals to get it what it wants. In other words, you will begin to crave more sugar and likely overeat, totally defeating the purpose of that fat free latte with sugar free syrup and three Sweet n' Low.
If you are going to sweeten a beverage or food, go with the real thing. Reach for raw sugar or, better yet, raw unprocessed honey or maple syrup. These sweeteners have trace amounts of minerals in them and have not been highly processed.
4. Peppermint to the Rescue
Studies have shown that the smell of peppermint can curb sugar cravings. Think about it...when was the last time you were craving anything right after brushing your teeth? Nothing tastes good after a swish of minty mouthwash. Try brushing your teeth or chewing peppermint gum during the hours you usually find yourself dreaming of a sugary treat. You can also use peppermint essential oil. Place a drop in some unscented hand lotion or carrier oil and rub into hands. Cup your hands over your nose and mouth and breathe deep. You could also use a personal diffuser or cotton ball.
5. Be a Detective
As I mentioned above, there are many secret identities to sugar. Start with the foods you have at home. Compare the list to the ingredients on prepackaged foods. You might be surprised to find hidden sugars lingering more than candy and cookies. Products such as salad dressing, ketchup, yogurt, soup and "healthy" granola bars.
6. Manage Stress and Get Your Zzzzz's
Stress and lack of sleep can cause a hormonal imbalance that results in an overload of hunger hormones. When these hormones are triggered, it causes you to go hunting for food, most often the sugary ones that will help give you that dopamine "high". Aim for 8 hours of sleep and include stress reducing activities into your daily routine.
40 years ago, tobacco companies thought they had a brilliant new invention that would help people relax and unwind when they came up with the cigarette. History shows us sometimes we have to learn from mistakes. I do not blame tobacco companies for my grandmothers lung cancer or my grandfathers emphysema. There was no way of knowing the dangers of their decision to start smoking. Time would tell, and even today tobacco companies invent newer "healthier" alternatives that lure the uneducated consumer to buy their product.
Today, food companies are using the same unethical tactics to keep their pockets lined, only now the addictive substance is sugar, something that anyone, anywhere at any age can get their hands on. Like me, you may find it a struggle to reduce or even eliminate processed sugar. Addiction is real, whether to nicotine, alcohol, cocaine or sugar. To stop is hard.
Take a deep breath and start from where you are. Do not dwell on past decisions or try and place blame. With the right support, it is possible to break the sugar addiction! The first step is to recognize and acknowledge it.
Do you have a sugar addiction?
Don't Ask for a Light Load. Ask for a Strong Back"
You walk 3 miles a day, park in the furthest spot, take the stairs and achieve 10,000 steps a day on your tracker...but the scale is not budging! SERIOUSLY???
You could add more miles or increase your step goal, but a better strategy would be to pick things up and put them down...in other words, add some weight and resistance training to your routine.
Now ladies, before you get all "but I don't want to look all big and beefy", just know that you do not possess the hormones that would get you to this point. However, you do possess the ability to get chiseled arms. sexy shoulders and sleek calves.
Sound good? Keep reading!
Three Parts of a Workout Routine
To make the most of your time, and work as efficiently as possible, I recommend including cardio, strength and flexibility exercises to each workout.
My favorite type of strength training is Circuit Training. This type of workout keeps you from getting bored and can be done in 30 minutes (but feel free to add a few extra rounds if you need more!)
A circuit is made up of 5-10 exercises that target both upper and lower body worked back to back. Each exercise is done for one minute with no rest in between each exercise. You can aim to complete a fixed number of rounds or do as many rounds in a set amount of time.
Include a day of circuit training 3 days a week in your rotation with alternating days of steady state cardio such as walking or bike riding as well as a day of restorative recovery such as yoga or meditation.
Give your muscles a day of rest in between strength training days (hence the steady state every other day) to allow for your body to repair and build and reduce your risk of adrenal fatigue and overuse injury.
Check out my sample week here.
By including resistance and weight training into your weekly exercise regimen, you will begin to reap some pretty amazing benefits. Muscle has a much leaner appearance pound for pound than fat and it burns more calories while the body is at rest (boosts metabolism). Strengthening muscles also helps with functional, every day living including walking up and down stairs, bending and lifting and reaching overhead. With your muscles strong and flexible (because you ALWAYS stretch after your workouts) you will have less discomfort and pain when completing every day tasks and decrease your chance of injury as well.
No fancy equipment or pricey gym membership is necessary to get a killer strength workout. A couple of sets of dumbbells or resistance bands and a yoga mat are really all you need. I recommend three sets of dumbbells, a light set (3-5 pounds) medium set (8-10 pounds) and heavy set (12-15 pounds) to accommodate larger and smaller muscle groups. Resistance bands in varying thickness can also offer the same variety for less cost.
Check Your Form
Before embarking on any fitness or strength training journey, check with your doctor for any underlying conditions and injuries you may need to modify for. I highly recommend working with a personal trainer or fitness professional who can check and correct your form.
Whatever your health and fitness goals are, including strength and resistance training will make a huge impact on your success. Make your circuit training a priority and I promise you will see and feel a difference.
Got a great circuit you love?
Share it with my readers so they can love it too!!
My family welcomed a new member this week. Daisy is a rescue mini lab (we think) who is the absolute sweetest love. Yes, I confess! This momma who was the only one who did NOT want a dog is smitten.
However, she is an interruption to my comfortable morning routine:
That has all changed
Those puppy dog eyes (literally) have completely thrown a wrench into my whole morning. It is day 2 and I have already missed workouts, chased her sneaker stealing butt all over and picked up multiple accidents left behind. How does something so small poop so much! Not to mention these little "gifts" have destroyed the aroma of that first cup of coffee.
But that face....
Lessons from a Fur Baby
Day 2 of mothering a fur baby and she has already taught me a valuable lesson.
During our morning walk, she managed to get under my feet, dropping me like a ton of bricks to the ground, directly on my knee. Ouch is an understatement.
I'm frustrated and angry, but digging deeper I realize it is not with her. The emotions I am feeling come from deep within. While there is no doubt I have physically fallen, it is not the physical pain that hurts.
Taking the time to reflect on what is really going on, I realize the current pandemic has allowed an extra 15 pounds to creep back onto my body. Bringing this added weight down as it did from my trip, I also realize I hate this. I hate how I feel. I hate how I look. This tumble is a reminder that I have fallen in more ways than one.
I want to use this as an excuse.
"I can't because I fell..."
"I can't because I am injured..."
"I can't because it hurts..."
It would be so east to just stay down. Put my knee up with a bag of ice and wallow. Stay angry and blame someone or something external.
Or I could get up.
I cannot blame my weight gain on COVID or a new puppy or getting tripped.
As I reflect on the current situation, the new changes that have redirected my morning, the number on the scale, the range of emotions I feel, I begin to realize this fall may be exactly what I needed.
I am the one in control of how I feel, how I look and what direction I need to go to make things better. This is no ones responsibility but my own and no one is going to make it better for me. That reality stings, but sometimes it takes a little bit of pain and discomfort to push us out of our comfort zone and a stagnant, mundane lifestyle. This pain knocks us down and leaves us with a choice...
Stay down or get back up?
There is a Japanese Proverb that I have always loved. "Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight".. Never before have I understood the true meaning until today. I fell down physically and emotionally. Gaining weight that I have worked so hard to lose and maintain is truly discouraging. It brings me down and tries to hold me down.
But I also know it is within me to get back up.
It will be hard.
Temptation and excuses will forever try and pull me back.
But I am the ONLY ONE who can get myself back up.
Maybe you can relate. Have you tried every diet? Have you lost the weight only to regain it back? Feel like you were dying in an exercise class that you once crushed no problem?
You have fallen. Who or what tripped you? What hurts (physically and emotionally)? What is it that weighs you down, or pulls you to stay down? Acknowledge it! Name it!
You have fallen...and now you have a choice.
Will you stay down?
Or will you get back up?
I wish I could say I was one of those 20 somethings who could eat anything and not gain weight. Being overweight was an issue I dealt with my whole life, never benefiting from the fast metabolism that allowed me to binge and still wear skinny jeans. Now in my 40's it seems even harder to take it off and keep it off. WHY????
Here are 5 reasons why losing weight after 40 becomes more challenging (and ways to defeat Father Time)
I'm sure you saw that one coming from a mile away! It is no secret that a change in hormones is one of the top culprits in the 40+ weight loss struggle. Hormones are powerful little chemical messengers in your body that play a role in everything from puberty and reproduction to mood and metabolism. When unbalanced, one may begin to feel fatigued or depressed, experience mood swings, irregular menstrual cycles, infertility and, you guessed it...weight gain!
I wish I could go back to my stressed out 20 something me and tell myself to chill...it's only going to get harder! Not to downplay the stressors of those wonder years, I just realize now most of what stressed me out was temporary or fixable and not the end of the world. Now as a mom, stress compounds not only from the safety and well being of myself, but also little humans that depend on me. This "adulting" lifestyle has introduced the stress of work, home, family, bills, hobbies and all around life balance. Adrenal glands are working overtime, hormones like cortisol are toying with my hunger and satiety cues, all resulting in weight gain with am emphasis on relocating stored body fat to the belly. It's true..adulting IS hard!
3. Poor Sleep
1 (hormones) + 2 (stress) = 3 Poor Sleep. Whether it is a hot flash in the middle of the night or a racing mind as you lay your head down on the pillow, sleep quality decreases as age increases. Add to the mix our dependence on all things technology and our brains do not know the difference between night and day. Less sleep or less restful sleep disrupts the hormonal balance, confuses our hunger vs. satiety cues, gets us craving carbs, confuses the natural circadian sleep/wake rhythm and leads the needle on the scale in the wrong direction.
4. Less Physically Active
So now you are tired, and stressed.... perfect recipe for a Binge Watching session. Who wants to lace up for a walk or put on yoga pants to actually do yoga, right? In my 20's I was walking to and from classes, meeting up with friends to go out to clubs at night and having boundless energy to go, go go! I wish I could go back and bottle some of that up. These days life looks more like 8 hours at a computer that zaps any enthusiasm I might have had to lace up for a walk after work. All work and no play...you know the story.
5. Decrease Lean Muscle
Less movement and no motivation to go to the gym means less resistance training. As we age, our lean muscle mass naturally declines (design flaw of the human body). Lean muscle burns more calories (aka metabolism) when the body is at rest. That roaring 20 something metabolism fire is a thing of the past. As lean muscle decreases, so does metabolism, fewer calories are burned throughout a day than once upon a time. Do the math. If you are burning fewer calories a day, but still eating the same amount of calories you did when in your 20's or 30's, where do the extra ones go? You guessed it...it is being stored right there in that lower belly bulge. Thanks again, hormones!!
Defend Yourself in your 40's
It's not like we can stop the clock on aging. What's a 40 something to do? Purchase shares in elastic waist bands? Hide under a cozy blanket with the top Netflix subscription? Cry???
Deep breath...there is a solution! (and it is not one of the above) There are many ways we can win the battle of the belly bulge. It will take change, commitment and consistency but it is possible. Here are some simple and realistic steps you can begin incorporating to battle the bulge:
The Bottom Line
Weight gain is sneaky and silent. A pound this year, two next year. By the time you have reached the next decade, you could be carrying an extra 10-20 pounds. The key is maintenance and prevention. Changing bodies requires changes in habits. Slowly incorporating these simple steps I have shared will have you moving in the right direction.
Need more support? Let's set up a time we can chat about your struggle. Together we can create a plan of action that will keep Father Time quiet!
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You've sweat it out in your kickboxing, spin or Pilates class, lifted ridiculously heavy weights, knocked out a few extra miles on the treadmill and done more burpees than you care to admit....but the weight is NOT coming off! (insert profanity rant here)
One of the biggest myths about weight loss is that it requires endless trips to the gym where you spend hours going nowhere on a machine or lifting weights to the point that walking up stairs becomes a workout in itself. As with overall Health and Wellness, weight loss requires a balance between multiple dimensions. Poor eating habits, lack of sleep and stress are some of the biggest culprits keeping you from your goal weight. So put down the dumbbells and keep reading for some helpful ways to battle the bulge without the sweat.
Weight Loss Happens in the Kitchen
The Standard American Diet (SAD for short) is primarily composed of highly processed, refined "food" that has no right calling itself food in the first place. The 80's brought us big hair, remarkable style and longer lists of unpronounceable ingredients that promised our beloved snacks would be fat free. Chemicals replaced flavors and sweeteners were magically derived from corn. Coming from a generation that invented the Fat Free potato chip, butter that, believe it or not, isn't butter and low sodium salt (??), I can personally confess to eating some strange foods all in the name of slimming my waistline.
Not weight loss! In fact, my weight constantly yo-yoed, I was tired all the time and symptoms of depression were prevalent while I was in denial. Can you relate? As more and more "diet" foods hit the shelves, more and more Americans became overweight. The 1 in 30 children who were obese became the 1 in 6 with a bonus risk of Type II diabetes. I was one of the SAD diets sad stories.
My ah-ha moment came when I checked out a little book with a whole lot of simple information. Food Rules by Michael Pollan is the must have beginner guide to healthy eating. Rules as simple as "Eat Food...Not Too Much...Mostly Plants", "Don't Eat Anything Your Great-Great Grandmother Wouldn't Recognize" and "Don't Eat Breakfast Cereals that Change the Color of the Milk" became my mantras. I learned to cook and hoarded recipes from magazines in waiting rooms (pre-Pinterest of course), I began reading and understanding the information on nutrition facts labels. I realized the cause of my weight issues did not come from calories or fat (a once deemed naughty F-word) but from the unrecognizable ingredients I was consuming.
Keeping track of portions and calories is important, but fueling the body with real food takes priority. Food delivers the vitamins and nutrients necessary for muscle growth, cell regeneration, and basic bodily functions. Real food can be digested to deliver these nutrients throughout. The proper balance of macro-nutrients can keep the body energized while balancing the calories that come in with the calories that are burned.
These rules take a while to adopt as habit, but with each small step, a healthier weight and lifestyle is within reach!
Get Your zzzzzz's
How long does it take for your phone or device to recharge to 100%? I bet your evening routine includes plugging it in every night to be sure it is fully charged for the busy day of texting, browsing, calling and streaming the next day, am I right?
So how many hours do YOU recharge each night? Do you get the full 7-8 hours of sleep necessary to recharge your body to 100% for the following busy day?
If you are like most overworked and multitasking Americans, you likely sacrifice sleep to "get everything done" rather than sacrifice one more season of your favorite Netflix binge.
Growing evidence from both laboratory and epidemiological studies points to short sleep duration and poor sleep quality as new risk factors for the development of obesity. NCBI:
In Simpler terms, lack of sleep causes disruption of the hormones that regulate hunger and satiety and increased weight gain by 32% in women who averaged 5 hours of sleep a night. So plug the devices in, diffuse your favorite sleep inducing essential oils, turn out the lights and tuck yourself in for a solid 7-8 hours of recharging. You will feel more energized and boost your weight loss efforts.
You are out for your morning walk when suddenly a large dog lunges towards you. You immediately jump and either defend yourself or hightail it out of there. A quick dose of adrenaline and cortisol gets your heart racing and provides you with a surge of energy and strength that will help you fight off the threat or escape. This is referred to as the Fight or Flight Response, a built in defense mechanism to keep us alive in a dangerous situation.
When you realize the lunging dog is securely leashed and safely behind a fence, the Stress Response deactivates and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in to bring you back to equilibrium.
Sounds great, right?
Only problem is, the Stress Response does not know the difference between a viscous dog, a looming deadline, traffic or a screaming toddler...each of these situations elicits the stress response and the corresponding impact on the body with one big difference....the latter situations tend to last a lot longer, putting continuous strain on the Adrenal glands and cause hormonal imbalance. Translation: the adrenal glands continuously pump adrenaline and cortisol resulting in adrenal fatigue and weight gain.
This process truly highlights the need for strategies to manage and reduce stress. Yoga, hobbies, nature and mindfulness are all great ways to reduce stress. Check out my blog on Mindful Practice for the Beginner to get started on one of the easiest and fastest way to bring on the Relaxation Response, Mindfulness. There are also a variety of apps and podcasts that will help guide you through meditations while the use of certain essential oils such as lavender or this set De-Stress Essential Oil Set have been shown to help reduce stress.
The Bottom Line
So, does this all mean that you should ditch your exercise? NO!! Weight loss and a Healthy Lifestyle are a balance of healthy eating, sleep, stress reduction AND exercise., You do not need to spend hours in the gym, 30 minutes a day should suffice along with a healthy diet, time to rest and recharge and identifying triggers for stress and the strategies that help keep it in control.
My 12 Week Spring Weight Loss Challenge, starting March 7th, provides support and accountability. Through this group coaching program, you will visualize optimal health and set realistic goals that will get you closer to your healthiest you, learn how to crowd out unhealthy habits as you make room for healthier behaviors and practice stress reducing activities specific to your needs and interests.
If you are ready to take this journey and incorporate these practices to lose weight into your life, be sure to check out the Spring Weight Loss Challenge.
Health and Happiness!
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links to product I personally use and recommend to achieve balance in health and wellness. I receive compensation from the sales of any linked items which helps me continue with my business providing clients with the skills and tools to reach their wellness goals. Thank you for your support
Spring is my most favorite season. It is like the world is awakening from a long winter slumber, opening her eyes through blooming flowers and chirping birds. It is also a time where I can realign my goals and get back into a healthy routine. This especially trying winter with the pandemic has certainly left its mark on physical ad mental health. A few extra pounds and binged Netflix series have me feeling a little sluggish. Can anyone relate?
Bring on the motivation
Seems like the perfect time to challenge you to get off the couch, cancel the pity party and get back on track...summer is coming!!
I have designed a 12 week weight loss challenge that has time and again proven successful in helping my clients lose weight. I know what you are thinking. "Ugh! Another weight loss program". I get it. I have been through my far share of shakes, bars, fasts, and food logs to know the struggle.
This is different!
Yes you will be tracking numbers on a scale, but this is only a fraction of what you will be gaining (or losing) during these 12 weeks. With a focus on what you CAN have or CAN do instead of what you have to give up, along with a community of peers for support, you can join others who have participated in losing up to 12% of your body weight through healthy behavior change that is sustainable and realistic! Through clean and healthy eating, exercise, stress management and mindfulness, you will be on your way to finally losing those extra pounds you have been carrying.
A Vision and the Journey
The program starts with your vision, imagining yourself at your healthiest and happiest. Over 12 weeks, you will learn to set realistic goals and action steps to get you closer to the ideal you. You will learn healthy eating strategies, workouts for every level, stress management techniques and mindful tools to balance all areas of your health and wellness. The road that lies ahead may not be an easy one, but you will be supported the whole way through Health Coaching. a caring and supportive community and a plan that will hold you accountable.
The real incentive here is good health. Losing just 5% of your body weight can:
The top three losers with the highest percentage of weight lost will receive:
Ready to get started?
Learn more about my 12 week weight loss challenge here. I would be honored to support you through your personal journey to weight loss, health and happiness.
Questions? You can ask in the comments or find me on Facebook.
Would you like to save $25 off the Challenge Registration?
Join my email list and receive a coupon code you can use at checkout.
I can't wait to see where your journey takes you!
Health and Happiness
Just after Thanksgiving, I began recognizing the telltale signs of a COVID infection. Headache, fatigue, coughing, I just felt miserable. After trudging my way to the walk-in for the dreaded nasal swab, my results "lit up like a Christmas tree". I was positive. Mask in hand, I returned home to my bedroom where I would quarantine for 14 days to prevent spreading this to my more vulnerable family.
Admittedly, I had it easy. I am a healthy person, my symptoms were mild and I got out of making dinner and doing the dishes for 14 days as I could not risk exposing my family. Hey, gotta find the silver lining, right? Undoubtedly, my worst symptom appeared around day four of quarantine. As I prepared to work from home, I embarked on my morning routine of sitting quietly as I plan my day over a fresh brewed cup of coffee...but something was different...
I could not smell the awakening aroma of the beans as they infused with the hot water!
I could not taste the hazelnut flavoring that tantalize my taste buds!
COVID had stolen my sense of taste and smell!
A panicked google search entailed..how long will this last? Will I ever taste and smell again?
As with any google search, I began focusing on the small percentage whose taste and smell may take months to return while in rare cases some may never have the luxury of these senses ever again.
Cue the deep breath!
After a few tasteless dinners, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. Spicy foods to reawaken my taste buds and essential oil inhalers for my tired nostrils. I had no idea if it would work but it was worth a try.
Two weeks (and it was a long two weeks) my taste and smell slowly began to return. A hint of smell as the beans were grinding in the coffee maker, a tingle on my tongue as the spicy red pepper flakes warned them.
Did the essential oils and spicy foods really work?
Almost three months later as I am cleaning out my email inbox, I come across a blog from my favorite essential oil provider, Eden's Garden. They had evidence from multiple studies that the use of essential oils could, in fact, help bring back the sense of taste and smell.
Olfactory training with essential oils first took off with a study performed by German doctors in 2009. The study involved four different scent types–floral, fruity, spicy and resinous–represented by Rose, Lemon, Clove and Eucalyptus oil. Anosmic participants were instructed to smell each oil for ten second intervals, twice daily for 12 weeks. The results were very positive, prompting others to further study olfactory training with essential oils.
Could my personal experiment be the reason my taste and smell returned? I will never know. While essential oils are not recognized by the FDA, they can be a powerful tool in your medicine cabinet. Whether diffusing, applying topically or using to clean with, these little brown bottles pack a punch. That said, though they may seem harmless as they are part of nature, some essential oils do have contraindications when it comes to medicines, pets, children, elderly and underlying conditions. It is important to so your research and consult a professional aromatherapist if you are prone to side effects.
If you do plan to embark on your own experiment to get back your senses, I recommend the Eden's garden brand. They are sustainably sources, non-toxic, vegan and animal friendly. Most importantly, they are 100% essential oils with no synthetics or added fragrance. I have also created a 4-pack of Essential Oil Inhalers that include the oils mentioned in the original 2009 study::
Essential oils can be potentially dangerous. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication or have an underlying medical condition, please seek the guidance of a licensed Aromatherapist.
So... what have you missed most about your loss of smell or taste? What personal tricks have you tried and found success?
Share in the comments!
I'm Liz. Mom, wife, teacher, Health Coach. My passion lies in everything health and wellness. When new research and trends pop up, you can bet I am finding the best resources to information, weeding out the not so good and making the great easy to digest. From meal planning and recipes to exercise and mindfulness, wellness touches upon so many dimensions. Your path to optimal health is out there and I can help you find it.