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Finding the Magic: Getting Outside of Your Comfort Zone!

Radical change doesn’t usually ignite by doing the same things we’ve always done. Sometimes we need to leave behind our judgement to see the possibilities in front of us. When we know what we want to do and we’re prepared to take a chance, we also need to be prepared to leave our comfort zone. Here are some things to think about:

  • Understand your goal: Talk about it with others who have done it and to the people who support you. Don’t talk with the naysayers and anyone that leaves you feeling bad about what you’re doing.
  • Line up your priorities: Know how to get what you want. Identify the challenges you’ll face so you can be prepared to overcome them when they arise.
  • Break it down into small steps: Be realistic when creating your plan of action. Think it through, break it down to basics.
  • Take responsibility and be accountable: Hold yourself accountable for your actions and the people in your life will support you and your efforts, even when the outcome isn’t clear yet.
  • Challenge yourself to take risks (and be prepared to fail): Consider the big risk rather than the safe bet. It won’t always be great, but turn off the mental chatter until you know.
  • Positive Mental Attitude: Believe in yourself. Don’t let yourself entertain negative, depressive thoughts. Let them go, stay empowered by your own faith and compassion for yourself.
  • Continually evolve: Everything changes. Reframe your views frequently. Reprogram and relearn new behaviors and ideas that are helpful in the here and now. Be open to seeing things that you didn’t before.
  • Be open to the impossible: Look for new opportunities. “If I could do anything about this situation it would be…” Get creative, imagine the unimaginable.

To find out how working with an Integrative Health Coach can support you in reaching your goals, contact me to see if it’s a good fit and receive your first session for FREE!

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Seven Points for Better Meditation Posture

This is a method that’s been used for thousands of years to align your posture before you begin meditation. It can be used as a simple checklist that will make you more comfortable, allowing you to focus more deeply in meditation as you practice. You can find yoga classes that begin and end with a short meditation if you need more guidance.

 

  1. Legs- Sitting in a lotus or half lotus (basically “Indian style”), with your legs crossed and folded at the knees, your butt on a pillow and your knees resting against the floor or mat.
  2. Arms- Your arms will hang gently, your shoulders rested and relaxed. Your hands should be rested loosely in your lap or on your knees. If resting in your lap they will be 2-3 inches below your navel. Your right hand will rest in your left hand, and if you like, your thumbs can touch at the tips.
  3. Back- It is very important to have a straight back for good meditation posture. If the energy can flow freely from your crown to your root chakra, or straight down your spine, you will experience more clarity and alertness. Make sure your legs are comfortable. Be sure to point your tailbone toward the center of the earth and top of your head to the sky. Once you find a straight spine make sure you can take a deep breath and relax into it. Keep taking deep breaths. Relax into the posture. Rock back and forth to find your center if that helps.
  4. Eyes- Many Buddhist practices suggest keeping your eyes slightly open to allow the light to enter and avoid sleepiness, but for now, your eyes closed is probably easiest. Your eyes are controlled by muscles, so relax your eyes and eyelids.
  5. Jaw and Mouth- When your jaw is relaxed your teeth will be slightly apart, not clenched. You may feel the release in the back of your jaw.
  6. Tongue-Rest your tongue gently on your upper palate touching the backs of your teeth. This will help you relax your jaw, and you will salivate less.
  7. Head- Your head position is very important. If it drops too far forward you may have trouble staying attentive, with your chin too high you may also find yourself distracted. Your crown (the top of your head) should be aligned with your spine. Maybe you can imagine a puppet string running through the top of your head and straight down your back.

 

Begin breathing deeply and notice how different it feels when your posture (and chakras) are aligned. Once you find the right posture, you can meditate without being distracted by how your body feels. I hope this helps you in your practice.

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The Struggle of Finding Enough Time

One of the things that I hear over and over is the struggle with time. Time management is important for us in order to feel productive and free up our head space for other things, like creative ideas and social interactions. Feeling like our time is organized can help us live in harmony with our own thoughts.

Effective time management starts with getting clear on your values, defining goals, and making a plan. Then you can look at how you spend your time and organize it in a way that fits your priorities. Sounds easy, right? Many of us need help fighting our own procrastination, and a lot of us could benefit from finding shortcuts for time management. Here are a couple of ideas that I’ve found helpful:

Have you heard of the 80-20 principle? It was developed by an Italian economist and suggests that 20% of what we do yields 80% of the results we get, while 80% of what we do yields 20% of our results. To explain that in the context of social media, your Facebook feed offers about 20% of content worth reading and the other 80% could be skimmed. Your mail carrier probably delivers about 20% of important mail and another 80% of junk. With housekeeping chores, you could say that 80% of it can wait, while the other 20% must be done for sanitation and sanity.

Another method I like is the Time Management Matrix aka, the Eisenhower Matrix developed by our 34th president. Draw a box on a sheet of paper and divide it into 4 quadrants. On the left side write “Important” next to the top box and “Not Important” next to the bottom box. Across the top write above the box on the left “Urgent” and on the right “Not Urgent”. Take your to-do list and write each task in the appropriate box. Now, rename those boxes. Top left is “Do First”, top right “Things to Schedule”. The bottom left becomes “Things to Delegate” and the bottom left, “Don’t Do”.

These thoughts can help us identify the value of our time spent. Once we understand the value, we can make better choices. A time log is another tool that people use to help them with time management. Email me to get your time log and instructions. What tools do you use to manage your time?

 

 

 

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A Rainbow of Color Is A Rainbow of Nutrients!

In order to get a rainbow of nutrients, we need to eat a rainbow of foods. Most of the color in our diets comes from fruits and vegetables, and especially berries. Berries typically have a high concentration of pigments, which contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are known as powerful antioxidants, and they’re also good for strengthening blood vessels and the neurological system. These colorful phytochemicals are really what make many berries the super foods they are.

Antioxidants defend against free radicals that are responsible for aging and age-related diseases.  Studies show that eating 10 servings of fruits and vegetables can have dramatic effects on your body’s protection against free radicals. By adding more deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables to your diet, you increase the nutritional value of the food you eat. By adding more colorful varieties, you greatly increase the amount of nutrients that you consume.

Scientists suggest getting at least 3,000-5,000 ORAC units in your diet everyday to provide your body with optimal antioxidant protection against damaging free radicals. One cup of blueberries is about 3,200 units and I find it easy to eat a cup of blueberries. If you don’t like blueberries, look for foods with a high ORAC value like other berries, as well as kale, spinach, red grapes and Brussel sprouts. (Message me with your email to get a full list of high ORAC foods and their major health benefits.)

Eating richly colored foods high in antioxidants are your best protection against age related diseases, not to mention sun damage. When you make your next plate, give yourself the challenge of adding as many colors of fruits and vegetables as possible. What’s your favorite most colorful dish?

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Beautiful Skin- From the Inside Out!

There are so many products on the market that claim to help with aging skin, but as with all real beauty, it starts from the inside. When most people think of healthy skin, they think about what they put on their skin like cleansers, lotions and make-up. What you put on your body is important, but so is what you put in your body. Here are some tips to help your skin be radiant and healthy this summer:

HYDRATE- Drinking plenty of water will help your skin to retain its moisture and also help flush toxins from your system.

MIND YOUR FATS- Using high quality oils will work from the inside out. Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil are both good choices. Olive oil is best for dressings and low heat cooking because of its low smoke point, while coconut oil is great for high heat cooking. Either can be used at any temperature, but oils vary at what temperature they begin to degrade, which is when free radicals begin to form and cause cell damage. Limit fried food. Coconut Oil is high in antioxidants which defend against free radicals.

EAT LOTS OF FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES- Enjoying a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is the best way to get lots of antioxidants and a variety of nutrients. Vitamin C is great for our skin and antioxidants help minimize free radical damage from the sun and environmental toxins.

REDUCE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE- Do this for many reasons, like your energy level or ability to focus, but sugar really takes a toll on your skin by speeding up the aging process. Sugar is responsible for the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep your skin firm and smooth.

WEAR A GOOD SUNSCREEN- Ok, so there are many different opinions and this is mine. The sun is harsh and we need protection, even on cloudy days as the UV rays can cause damage. The only better way to protect your skin is to avoid prolonged exposure. There is much debate around which sunscreens are best, but I prefer to use a zinc based sunscreen. An Australian study showed that those who wore sunscreen had 24% less signs of damage over 4 and a half years. Some argue that the chemicals in the sunscreen are causing the rise in skin cancer. Do your own research and decide for yourself.

USE PURE SKIN CARE PRODUCTS- Our skin absorbs what we put on it. The bright green aloe that people use when they get sunburn makes me wonder how good that can be for your skin. Pure aloe is expensive and never turns bright green naturally. Some natural skin care products contain hidden ingredients, like dyes that can be detrimental. Most natural food stores carry a good selection of products and a staff who can help you choose or learn about what to avoid. There are many resources which rate the hazards of common beauty products and ingredients.

GET SOME R & R- Those who eat more sugar tend to experience more anxiety and stress, which is linked to insomnia. Lack of sleep and stress play a role in how our skin regenerates too. While you sleep deeply your skin’s metabolic rate increases, allowing your skin cells to repair damage from UV rays and other environmental factors. There is truth to needing your beauty sleep!

 

To learn more about beauty from the inside out contact me for a free 15 minute consultation to find out how I can help you!

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Do You Remember the Food Pyramid? It’s Now a Plate…

Why did they change the food pyramid? Because it wasn’t promoting healthy eating. In 2011, partly as a response to a rise in obesity and diabetes, the USDA introduced “My Plate” to represent the revised standards for the American diet they released in 2010.

The updated image shows a plate divided into 4 sections and a side. About half of the plate is made of fruits and vegetables with the other half being grains and protein. It shows a little more grain than protein, and a little more vegetable than fruit. It also includes a small side of dairy. This was definitely a healthy upgrade from the previous food pyramid which suggested half as many servings of vegetables as grains. The old pyramid suggested up to 11 servings from the “Bread, cereals, rice and pasta group,” and also suggested equal amounts of dairy and protein.

While this new version is better by far, Harvard School of Public Health has taken this new model offered by the USDA and addressed inadequacies of the new guidelines. They created what they call “The Healthy Eating Plate.” For those of us who don’t adapt well to change, they’ve also created an updated version of the pyramid. The foundation of this pyramid pictures balanced eating and exercise.

Harvard enhances their plate with a reminder to stay active and adds water on the side. It also has a side item, but suggests healthy oils rather than dairy. Milk is a limited menu item, along with juice and a reminder to avoid sugary drinks. Dairy is included as a protein and is also suggested in limited amounts, as is red meat. Healthy proteins include fish, poultry and Beans. The Harvard version doesn’t set a maximum number of calories from fat, suggesting that eating a balanced diet and choosing healthy oils is enough for a healthy diet.

This healthier version also advises that half the plate be fruits and vegetables, but it recommends about 2/3 vegetables and 1/3 fruit, instead of closer to half and half. Fruits have more sugar and should be eaten more conservatively than vegetables. They updated the “Grain” category, that once suggested mostly refined flour products, and they call it “Whole Grains,” to remind us to eat more of these and less refined products. Eating whole grains gives you more nutrition from the plants too, like more fiber.

Take a look at “The Healthy Plate” here and if you need guidance on how to better fill your plate contact me to set up a free 15-minute consultation to learn how I can help you!

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Meeting the Challenge of Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that disrupts normal metabolism in the body causing high blood sugar levels. This is because of an inability to produce or properly respond to insulin, which is a hormone produced by the pancreas to help regulate blood sugar metabolism. Type 2 diabetes is also known as adult onset diabetes and makes up 90% of people with diabetes. It is most often caused by excess weight and lack of exercise.

The good news is that Type 2 diabetes is often prevented and sometimes treated with healthy lifestyle practices. While medicines are necessary for many people, diet and exercise changes are also important. Here are some basic nutritional tips:

Portion Size- always read labels for suggested serving sizes and know your limit

Balance your Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein- eat a balanced meal or snack, don’t eat only one type of food at a time

Reduce or Eliminate Refined Flours and Sugars- these are sugar to the body and includes nectars, syrups and honey

Avoid Sugar Free Foods- they aren’t necessarily low in carbohydrates and have added calories

Know your Carbs- vegetables should be your main source along with some whole grains, know the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates

Watch Low Fat Products- they’re often high in sodium and carbohydrates

Record and Track- monitor glucose every day and if you’re curious, record your diet to see how it changes (Good News- a new glucose test using tears is being researched for a pain-free testing option)

Get a One-on-One with a Dietitian or Nutrition Coach- they can offer support and guidance to keep you in alignment with your goals

Simple changes in your diet can have long lasting effects, but it’s important to remember that physical activity is equally important. A regular exercise program along with a healthy diet can help people with diabetes feel better by losing weight and possibly even reducing their medications.

 

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Help to Curb the Cravings

When you’re trying to avoid some of your favorite foods it can be a challenge to deal with your cravings. Yes, having strong willpower is helpful, but here are some practical tips to help you cope. If you’re on a specific diet make sure it includes a good breakfast with adequate protein. Research shows this can help people lose weight by feeling fuller longer.

When you do have a craving for something you can’t have don’t just ignore it, find a reasonable snack to replace it with instead. If you absolutely can’t resist, a great idea is to pair a healthy item with a little of what is not permitted. For example a small piece of cheese along with your vegetables and crackers. Many people just give up and don’t eat anything which makes things worse.

Cravings are emotional so sometimes we aren’t even hungry. We can be tired, stressed or anxious. Sometimes we distract ourselves by trying to eat the solution to our problems, which isn’t actually a solution. Find other ways to reward yourself like buying a bouquet of flowers or going for a walk. It’s also a great idea to remove temptation as much as possible and have permissible snacks readily available.

Another good piece of advice is to avoid food porn. When we’re on a restricted diet we sometimes look for recipes which can turn into absolute torture as we scroll our computer screens through pages of recipes with fantastic photos. Its fine to look for recipes, but don’t get stuck looking at all the pictures of foods you can’t have right now.

Be kind to yourself. Guilt and shame will not help you succeed. Allow yourself treats (of all kinds) and enjoy them thoroughly. Find something that can serve as a treat regardless of your goal or program. It will make the process easier and give you something to look forward to.

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How Do Probiotics Benefit Us?

Probiotics are microorganisms that are a healthy part of our immune system and have recently been linked to mood and brain health. They’re found in large colonies in the gut, but are found in other parts of our bodies too. They live in our digestive system to protect us from pathogens and help us detoxify. When the balance of helpful bacteria becomes imbalanced by harmful bacteria, our immunity and vitality can become compromised.

Many problems can arise from imbalanced gut flora including decreased nutrient absorption, yeast overgrowth, gas, bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain and other GI symptoms. Some researchers believe the increase of imbalanced gut flora is partly because of the overuse of antibiotic and antibacterial products and the ultra-pasteurization of food. They believe we have less opportunity to receive probiotics naturally from our food and some of us may need to eat more probiotic containing foods.

New studies are finding more and more connections with mood and probiotics. They’re looking at connections like reduced anxiety and fewer sad moods for those who take probiotics. Some believe that by increasing nutrient absorption people just feel better. There are many links to mood and malnutrition. Many of the chemicals needed by our brains are made in the gut, so a healthy gut may be more likely to produce the right amount of chemicals. They’re still trying to understand the connection and with all of the interest in probiotics we can look forward to more information in the near future.

Some sources of healthy probiotics are yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods. Probiotic supplements are becoming very popular, but they’re not for everyone. Consult your health care provider before beginning any new supplements especially if you have concerns about your digestive health. When choosing a supplement find a high quality brand that is refrigerated (best) and has a few strains of probiotics.

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What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a wax-like fatty substance that is present in every cell of our bodies. Though it helps with a few other functions within the body it has three main purposes. It provides a coating for each cell in our body, produces bile salts for digestion and helps us convert vitamin d into a usable form. It travels through our bloodstream to the necessary places, but blood is like water and cholesterol like fat, so the two don’t mix. Our body has to package cholesterol with protein into particles called lipoproteins.

There are two basic types of lipoproteins. Low density and high density (LDL & HDL) lipoproteins vary by the amount of protein in the particle. HDL is considered the “healthy” cholesterol. It has higher protein allowing it to flow in the blood more freely. Unlike LDL which is likely to deposit itself in the arteries, HDL moves through the blood collecting excess fat and cholesterol from cells and tissues. It takes it to the liver to be processed into bile or get recycled.

Increasing HDL cholesterol can decrease the risk of heart disease and is affected by lifestyle. Exercise increases HDL where smoking decreases it. Following a low fat diet decreases saturated fat and LDL cholesterol. To lower your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease try using healthy oils like olive, flax, hemp and coconut oil. Eat foods high in good fat like cold water fish, avocados and walnuts. Avoid fried foods, trans-fats and hydrogenated oils. Reduce the amount of red meat and dairy and replace them with more vegetables on your plate.