Proteins That Pack a Punch

When I say protein, I know most immediately think “meat.”  I’m not just talking about meat!  Protein is found in far more than meat so, for the sake of this discussion, I hope you will not simply note the information provided here to be a recommendation to “eat more meat,” as it most certainly is not!  Eating too much meat can have many serious health consequences.

Many like to treat animal protein as far superior to plant protein because of it’s complete amino acid profile.  However, the body doesn’t just absorb whole proteins and add them to muscle mass.  It has to break them down into their amino acids to construct its own proteins.  While we won’t delve too deep here, know that proteins that don’t get broken down completely can birth inflammation and disease while too much animal protein can do also be harmful to the bones, teeth, kidneys and other vital organs.

Protein is not only essential for muscle mass, but also for spurring on a plethora of physiological processes (as enzymes that break down food and catalyze reactions; as antibodies that fight off foreign invaders). While carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source (see our article on Carbohydrates:  Foods that Fuel), protein can also satisfy the body’s energy needs and will in fact do so over the body using it for protein synthesis.

Protein is calorically dense but because proteins are harder for the body to break down than starches, it is not quite as efficient as an energy source as carbohydrates.  This is why high-protein/low-carb diets are such a trend.  The body burns more energy attempting to convert protein to energy, thereby aiding in weight loss or so is the theory but it has to be understood that carbohydrates are necessary to support this energy conversion process.  The lack of adequate carbohydrates is why most find that they’re diet/weightloss efforts come to a screeching halt as the body lacks the resources needed to convert alternative energy sources from amino acids/proteins and fats.

It should be thoroughly noted: more protein does not necessarily equal more weight loss.  Animal proteins are often packaged with excessive fats and other health hazards.  Even too much of the leaner cuts can still lead to weight gain as an excess of calories is an excess of calories (energy which gets converted and stored as fat).  This may only be worsened as an excess of animal protein can cause acidity and constipation, which stalls weight loss and health efforts.

For many looking to consume more protein out of a desire to increase visible muscle mass, remember: a lack of muscle mass is more commonly due to lack of demand placed on those muscles than a lack of resources for them.  Simply consuming protein will not in itself, increase muscle mass. There must be a demand placed on those muscles for the body to determine it must make them larger to perform the tasks demanded of it.  The body is incredibly efficient.  If nothing is signaling to it that it needs more muscle, it won’t build it.  On that same line of thought, a lack of muscle mass is not always indicative of inadequate protein intake.

All this considered, proteins are an essential part of a healthy diet and should be gathered from a variety of sources.  Just as not all sugars are created equal, so is the same with protein.  There are healthful and unhealthful sources.  For example, a steak may be loaded with protein but may also be loaded with saturated fats.  Ham may be loaded with protein but also overloaded with fat and salt (not to mention the parasites…).  It’s important that you seek to get your proteins from the healthiest, cleanest sources possible to help your family maintain a healthy weight and an overall healthy body.

Proteins are found in every cell of the body, in bones, skin, hair, muscles and every other body part and tissue.  They give us the enzymes that power a multitude of chemical reactions throughout the body and the hemoglobin that transports oxygen in our blood.  It takes at least 10,000 different proteins to build and sustain you!  It’s certainly worthwhile to be sure you’re getting the best sources possible.

Sources

close up of salad in bowl

Proteins are comprised of amino acids.  These amino acids are found in every whole food, in varying amounts and proportions.  Fruits, vegetables, grains, greens, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, fish and dairy all contain amino acids. In animal products, the proteins are generally considered “complete” only meaning that all of the amino acids needed for protein synthesis are present.  Essentially, the animal you are consuming has harvested all of the amino acids for you.

Plant-based proteins are often considered “incomplete” only because most individual plant sources do not contain all of the amino acids needed to make protein in that one single source (though there are some “complete” plant protein sources, such as hemp).  However, these amino acids can be easily acquired by eating a variety of healthful, plant-based foods.  THIS DOES NOT MAKE PLANT PROTEINS INFERIOR TO ANIMAL PROTEINS.  It only means that you should aim for diversity among sources which you should be doing with your diet anyways.

HERE’S THE FACT:  Protein deficiency in the United States and most of the world is incredibly rare!  Deficiencies are typically seen in parts of the world where starvation is a real issue.  Most people, especially in the United States would need NO ADDED PROTEINS in adopting most any exercise protocol.  Most people are already consuming more than enough protein to support the growth of muscle mass WITHOUT added supplements, protein shakes, and extra chicken with their chicken.

On a personal note, if I’m going to have a (plant-based) protein shake, it would be either pre-workout where I don’t want to heavy my stomach with a full meal, or post-workout when I’m on the go and won’t likely be eating for a while.  (Post-workout is actually a perfect time to grab a Complete Shake while the muscles are primed and ready to rebuild and replenish nutrient levels.)  Protein rich foods and beverages can be great for staving off hunger and promoting the rebuild – just be sure you don’t get caught up in the head game of “I exercised therefore I need more protein.”  What you do really need post-workout are carbohydrates.   Not a ton, but consuming some within an hour of working out is great for restoring glycogen levels in the muscles so they’re ready to rock again when you are.

It was once thought foods had to be properly combined in one meal for the body to utilize those amino acids in protein production (such as in combining beans and rice).   This has since been found to be false.  While they can be consumed this way, the body will acquire amino acids throughout the day and assemble them as needed.

Essential vs. Non-Essential Amino Acids

What’s also key to understand here is the difference between essential and non-essential amino acids.  An essential amino acid is one that we must get from food. The “non-essentials” are not un-needed, but are those that don’t have to be acquired from our diet as the body can convert other present amino acids into the ones it needs to comprise the proteins.  (Didn’t God just make you so awesome?!).

While many try to depict plant protein as being “inferior” to animal proteins, nature shows us this is simply not true.  The largest animals on the planet (elephants, giraffes, cattle, etc.) only eat plants. Even the omnivores we’re most closely biologically acquainted with, such as gorillas, only eat enough small animals, eggs and lizards to comprise about 1% of their diet.  The rest of the proteins that build up these powerful creatures all comes from plants.

Don’t Get Duped!

While I am not trying to tell you to not eat meat, I do want you to see that your family can get loads of clean protein from healthful plant sources.  Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of the marketing schemes and tactics employed by the meat and dairy industry duping family’s out of their health and into doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding digestibility and bio-availability, nutritional needs and more so be mindful when reading articles telling you why you should be eating more protein, as well as in recommendations as to which kind.  Our capitalist culture places the burden on the consumer to consider who is making the recommendations and why.  Too much of even a good thing can be bad for you.

These industries would have us believe that we really have to make an effort to get enough protein, (i.e., that we should buy their products to aid us in our deep need).  Protein deficiency, especially in America, is ridiculously rare. Even the CDC states that most Americans get more than enough protein and should be more focused on an overall healthy eating plan that consequently incorporates plenty of proteins along with many other essential nutrients.   Again, excessive amounts of animal protein have been linked to numerous diseases and health problems.  If you’re looking to boost overall proteins, look at ways you can broaden your nutritional horizons and get them from whole food plant sources that will simultaneously boost your intake of healthy fiber and other key nutrients/phytonutrients.

For now, look to acquire your protein from a wide variety of lean, nutritious sources but fret not over acquiring enough.  Be sure to incorporate plenty of beans, greens and other plant sources such as hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, asparagus, cauliflower, peanuts, mung bean sprouts, almonds, spinach, broccoli and quinoa to get a broad array of amino acids and other amazing health benefits!

11 Ways to Better Immunity

Hippocrates, known as the “father of medicine,” is known for saying “Let thy food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food.”

While some believe catching colds in cold season is just what you do, we love that you know there are some things you can do to fortify your family.   …cause an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

*Please seek the advice of a health professional prior to self-treating any illness with medicinal herbs.

1. Raw Foods

Raw foods are chock full of enzymes and vitamins that can be damaged or destroyed completely by heat.  Many people today eat very little fruits and vegetables, and even less are eating these in their natural state.  Consuming more raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds gives the body more of a fighting edge as they help to optimize the overall health of the body while strengthening its resilience.  While some foods are made more palatable and/or digestible by cooking, most fruits and vegetables can be turned into gorgeous, colorful, delectable dishes with no heat in no time.

2. Probiotics & Prebiotics

Health experts estimate that anywhere from 60-80% of your immune work happens in the gut.  An unhealthy gut can put the body in overload mode and make it more susceptible to sickness.  Many parents have had great success in boosting their children’s immunity by including prebiotics and probiotics in their diets.  Probiotics are the “good bacteria” found in the intestines that kill the bad bacteria.  It is especially important to replenish probiotics in the digestive tract if you’ve used antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria with the bad.  Prebiotics are a special form of dietary fiber that nourishes the probiotics in the gut.  Supplements can be purchased that contain both, however, you can also give those tummies a regular boost through simple, everyday foods.

Probiotics:  Make sure the food/beverage you are purchasing for these contain LIVE CULTURES.  Probiotics can be destroyed by heat and time. So, the fresher, the better.  Its good to get an array of good gut flora (different strains will be listed with the ingredients).  Find these in kefir (milk, water or juice), yogurt, kombucha, fermented juices (no, I’m not telling you to pour jr. a glass of wine.  Many grocers now carry juices with live cultures for gut health); raw cheese, and other raw fermented foods, like sauerkraut, beet kvass and others.  Again, be sure the product was not pasteurized post-fermentation.  Many companies do this to yield a product with the right flavor and a longer shelf life.  Probiotics are living organisms that are useless to you dead.

Prebiotics: This is another area where raw foods are key.  Raw foods, such as bananas, garlic and asparagus are all excellent sources of the undigestible fibers that promote the growth of probiotics in the intestines.

3. Elderberry (Sambucus)

Known for being loaded powerful antioxidants and immune boosting properties, elderberry has long ranked high on the list of go-to remedies for health professionals and moms alike.  Elderberry has been used for centuries for coughs, colds, flus, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis.  Its bioflavanoids and other proteins are said to diminish/destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect the body’s cells.  Israel’s Hasassah’s Oncology Lab has determined that elderberry stimulates the body’s immune system so efficiently that they’re using it to treat cancer and AIDS patients with it.

Elderberry is sold as a tasty syrup for kids and adults.  Our favorite is Nature’s Way Sambucus with Echinacea.  We keep this stuff on hand for a quick immune boost when around others who are sick or at the first sight of infection.  If you happen to be thinking about making your own, please note, the berries of certain cultivars of this plant can be toxic when eaten raw.  Elderberries should be cooked down for safety, digestibility and palatability.

4. Echinacea

A well known immune booster, echinacea can be purchased as a tea, tincture, supplement or syrup.  The University of Maryland reports that several studies suggest echinacea contains substances that boost immune function, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and have hormonal, antiviral and antioxidant effects, making it potentially useful for urinary tract infections, yeast infections, ear infections, hay fever, sinusitis, athlete’s foot, and slow-healing wounds.

Caution: Those with allergies to ragweed, chrysanthemums or marigolds should exercise caution when considering echinacea as it may trigger an allergic reaction.  Caution should also be exercised by individual’s taking immunosuppressant medication.

5. Garlic

Garlic has been used for centuries for treating a host of ailments.  It was used to prevent gangrene in the soldiers of both World Wars.  It has been used as an antiseptic and applied to wounds to prevent infection.  It is rich in antioxidants to fight off free radicals and is commonly used to kill parasites and boost the immune system, amongst many other ailments.

Raw garlic, not cooked or dried, is most beneficial for health, since heat and water inactivate sulfur enzymes, which can diminish garlic’s antibiotic effects.

6. Vitamin D3

Crucial for bone health and immunity, the body produces this when exposed to sunlight.  15 minutes a day can do wonders for people with lighter skin.  Darker skin types may require more exposure to produce sufficient amounts of Vitamin D.  D3 levels can run low in the winter but may be adequately restored by stepping into the sun with the face and hands exposed.  Vitamin D3 can also be purchased as a supplement in capsule form or in a small dissolvable tablet.

Vitamin D can also be obtained through mushrooms, eggs, dairy products and many flesh foods.

7. Joy

One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is the gift of joy.  Chronic low-joy environments are associated with many things we will be talking about in the future but, for the sake of this article, let’s just talk about how it relates to our bodies’ ability to ward off disease.  Studies consistently show links between mental/emotional disposition and health.  Pessimism, depression, constant frustrations, a negative environment – all of these things way on the whole person and make the body more susceptible to disease.  Same goes for our kids.  Joy and laughter support a healthy mind and healthy body.  Don’t resist the opportunity to enjoy a good laugh and make memories you and your children will enjoy for a lifetime.

8. Water

With an estimated 90% of the population chronically dehydrated, this point certainly warrants the space.  Water is critical for good heath, especially when it comes to immunity.  Water oxygenates blood, flushes out toxins, supports lymph production (critical in immune response), keeps eyes and mouth clean, aids digestion and assimilation, prevents and aids many chronic ailments.  As much as possible, spring waters and home-filtered waters should chosen over municipal water thats often laden with a toxic excess of flouride, as well as chemical disinfecting agents and other chemicals that are less than supportive to the immune system.

9. Exercise 

Exercise works wonders for the body, including boosting immunity.  Our bodies have more lymph than blood but, unlike the blood flowing through the heart, the lymphatic system has no pump.  The lymphatic system is responsible for transporting white blood cells to fight infection.  The lymphatic system relies on your body movement.  Do your kids seem bounce everywhere like mine do?  While there’s a time and a place for all things, I try not to dissuade them when I can help it as bouncing is one of the best ways to get lymph moving through the body.  Even a steady, gentle bounce on a small rebounder can be of great benefit.

10. Rest 

While I know you’re busy and life has more demands coming at you than you can shake a stick at, hear me when I tell you – you’ve got to make time for rest.  It is crucial that you not only get your 7-8 hours sleep a night but that you also set aside a day to take it easy each week.  I’m a mom too.  I totally get it.  I’ve struggled with this more times than I can count and it doesn’t take long for it to catch up with me either. The body has to have time to cleanse and repair itself and it needs rest to do this.  This is especially true for children as they have the added demand of growing and learning so much.

11. Sweets 

I know, this is the tough one for so many and kids especially love their sweets but avoiding sugary foods is especially important for the immune system.  Studies have shown that sugar consumption can inhibit the immune system for upwards to 6 hours after eating it!  Boost the immune system with naturally sweet substitutes.  If “super-sweet” is a “must,” try dates (especially Medjools).  They are especially good with a touch of almond/nut butter smeared down the center and can totally satisfy a craving for a decadent dessert with only a few.  Stevia can also help to decrease sugar consumption without the threat of mutiny for suddenly removing sugar from the household.

12 Tips on How to Get That Butt Back in Gear

If there’s one challenge I think most moms face among the many other challenges of parenting, its how to stay motivated to keep fitness a consistent part of an already jam-packed life.  When we do find a few free moments, working out is often the last thing we want to do.

 One thing I’ve learned in parenting is that fitness is not just key in taking our bodies back, it is unbeatable when it comes to relieving the accumulated day-to-day stress.  Still sticking to it can be a real struggle.  Here are my tips on how to maintain motivation, even amidst the chaos.

1. Fix Your Inner Dialogue

adult attractive black and white face

The biggest part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is fixing your inner dialogue (and that WILL require ongoing maintenance).  That means changing how you talk TO and ABOUT yourself.  Negative talk and a negative view will negate your efforts and make any health & fitness plan unsustainable. Any time you start thinking things like “I’m fat and out of shape” shut it down with “no.  I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time and steadily getting stronger/faster/fitter/hotter.” In the strain of it, reject “I’m tired…it hurts…I can’t do this…”  Envision the results you WILL attain and remind yourself “I’ve got this!”

2.  Schedule it!

You and I both know that if you don’t make time, you won’t find time!  Schedule other meetings and appointments around it.  You’re already booked for that block of time.  Be dressed and ready on time!  Getting out of those comfy pants in the morning and into those sneakers can really help reset your mindset and get you geared for what you’ve commited to do.

3.  Commit to 10

Commit to at least 10 minutes, agreeing with yourself that even when you don’t want to do it at all, you’ll do at least 10 minutes.  Odds are high that you won’t just quit by that point, you’ll keep pushing and even if you don’t, you still brought the effort and reinforced making fitness a daily/weekly habit.  Trust me.  There are days when it’s the last thing I want to do but sometimes I just have to pop that disc in and have it staring me in the face for me to say ug!  Alright, alright already…I’ll do it!

4.  Find Your Soul Mate Workout

woman punching red heavy bag

If you hate it, you’ll dread it. I’ve done so many different kinds, yet I keep going back to that TurboFire because it’s fun to me. I love kickboxing and dancing so it’s right up my alley. When I’m wanting to take it slow but get a good sweat, I break out PiYo or Body Beast.  (Not trying to promote BeachBody.  I don’t sell it.  These are just my personal faves.) Some prefer running solo and using the time to escape while some prefer a class setting where others push them to work harder. You’ve got to find this for yourself and when you do, it won’t seem so much like work but something you feel proud to be good and getting better at.

5.  Mix It Up

Even when you really love one workout in particular, you still need to mix things up to keep it from getting boring and to maximize your results.  Many find that they “plateau” after a long period of doing the same workout.  Make sure you shake things up a bit and get a fair share of stretch, strength and cardio work.

Also, don’t miss opportunities to slip movement in throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Tell your body it’s time to step up its game by placing more demands on it. It will do what it’s been made it to do.

6.  Watch Where You’re Going

Look more at your progress than the distance yet to be traveled.   Looking ahead should be with hope, excitement and determination, not with overwhelm. Looking at it in terms of how far you are from where you want to be makes it to easy to ditch the effort.  Thinking in terms of how much closer you are to where you want to be is a good motivator to stick to it.

When you say “no. I’ve already lost 10 lbs and I AM NOT going back,” it will help you stay on track and may just give you the boost you need to take each work out to a whole new level.

7.  Clear the Closet

shallow focus photography of clothes

Get rid of the clothes you’ve shrunk out of and buy at least one thing you love one size too small.  I’ve steadily done this from a 16/18 to a 4/6. Keeping the big clothes “just in case” is the same as giving yourself permission to go back and undo all you’ve worked so hard to achieve!  It’s another way of calling your ability to stick to it into question which ABSOLUTELY primes you for failure and self-loathing.

Getting rid of the old is a way of determining you’re not going back there so there’s no point in keeping “the big girl clothes” while buying the new will help with motivation and make you feel ecstatic and really good about yourself when you get to wear it for the first time.

8.  Fuel Up

If you want to crush a workout, you’ve got to fuel for it!  Under-fueling amidst a workout routine is a key factor in failure.  If you don’t have the energy to do it, you will feel like it is an impossible feat.  You’ll drag, ache and burnout quicker than a matchstick if you don’t give your body the fuel it needs to power through.  While a calorie-deficit will help you lose weight, inadequate caloric-intake prior to a workout may just break you.

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source – especially simple ones!  Think fresh fruits and smoothies.  If you’re in for a long-haul, adding complex carbs (like oats or whole grains) can help you fuel up with sustainable energy.  Proteins are harder to break down, taxing more energy for digestion and, consequently, leaving less energy for you to step up and bring it.  Fatty foods (even healthy ones), pre-workout, slow the body down even more so than proteins.  Simple carbs will provide your body with that quick burst of energy it needs as you step onto the track, into the gym or up to the plate in your own home.

9.  Set the Pace

Think about a fitness plan in terms of what you’re establishing not just for yourself but in your kids’ lives as well. Think about the kind of life you want them to live and realize that one of the best things you can do for them is to lead by example.  You want them to be healthy.  You want them to be strong.  And, you sure don’t want them to be afraid to grab the bull by the horns to accomplish their greatest goals in life.  Show ’em how it’s done!

My daughter has become my favorite workout buddy and her younger brother has been getting in on the action too.  When we go for it, even on the days that its evident to all that we REALLY don’t want to, we teach our kids valuable lessons about what can be accomplished by pushing past the I-don’t-wanna’s and holding tightly to “I CAN AND I WILL!”

Exercise is not just about weight!  It will boost their immunity, intellectual capacities and their confidence!  Now tell me that in itself isn’t worth it!

10.  See the Line Between Self-Sacrifice & Self-Neglect

You’re a mom.  I get it.  You give and you give and you give.  You try to put your family’s needs before your own and because of that, it’s often hard to justify taking time away from their needs to focus on you.  Still, there’s a great deception at play here.  What we so often fail to realize is that in taking that little extra time and effort to care for ourselves protects our capacity to continue to serve our families at our best.  It also helps to relieve them of the future burden of caring for us as they would if we let ourselves go, especially when the consequences eventually render us incapable of taking care of ourselves.  That may seem like it’s a long way ahead but you can’t even count those who’ve watched time slip through their fingers only to find themselves later where they’d hoped they’d never be, saying “I wish I’d have taken better care of myself back then.”

11.  Know When to Press & When to Rest

When starting a new fitness plan, it can be so tempting to go all in day-in-day-out.  We get frustrated and say, “that’s it!  I’m nipping this in the bud right now!”  While determination is absolutely a good thing, be mindful of what your body can and can’t handle.  Here’s the thing – too many people have a tendency to set unrealistic goals only to find themselves soon swimming in regret, frustration and feeling like a failure.  There’s an old saying “Slow and steady wins the race.”  If you know you can crush it, go for it!  But, be careful that you don’t push yourself right into a rapid burnout by trying to climb too high too fast.

You won’t get results without a challenge, so, by all means, challenge yourself.  But, if you start feeling overly burdened to the point that you’re thinking about quitting, pull back a bit but keep moving forward.  Start with just a few days a week or give yourself some “easy” days where you commit to doing something while feeling like you’re catching a break.  As you move forward, you’ll get stronger and find that you have an easier time committing to more intense workouts.

Also, if you’re under the weather and feel like you’re fighting something other than laziness, don’t be afraid to lay back and let your body do what it needs to to get you back up to speed.  It’s better to miss one day and be refreshed the next than to overdo it one day and be down the next week.

12.  Remember That You’re Awesome & Be Kind to Yourself!

You’ve been through a lot and are in your upswing.  Stop beating yourself up every time you have an off day!  It’s so easy to miss a day and say “screw it” the rest of the week because you blew your “perfect record.”  Instead, let the off-day establish the certainty that you will be right back on your game the next.  Fitness isn’t about punishing yourself.  It’s about loving yourself and your family enough to take care of your body.

So many people throw in the towel and resign to the slippery slope of just letting the body fall apart as the years tick by.  Not you!  You’re crushing it!  You’re bringin’ it!  You’ve got the Healthiest Mom on the Block Award coming your way!

5 Ways to Turn Your Body into a Calorie Inferno

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the Cupboard, Founder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life Ministries, Certified Integrative Wellness Counselor, Personal Trainer & Boxing Coach.

Ever wonder how some people seem to hop in the gym today only to be ripped weeks later?  (okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration but let’s face it, it’s just ridiculous how quick some people shed pounds that some of us have to topple mountains to get rid of.)

If you’re thinking it’s all in their genes, stop.  While genetics can play a great role in tendencies to retain or shed excess weight, there are ways you can biohack your own system to get that metabolism revved and ready to blast those pesky pounds and inches.

Biohack your health and wellness efforts by applying a little S.P.E.E.D.

SLEEP

In a 2007 research review, Knutson et al. found that chronic partial sleep loss could increase the risk of obesity and diabetes via dysregulation of glucose metabolism (i.e., insulin resistance) and altered neuroendocrine control of appetite resulting in excessive food intake and decreased energy expenditure.

The average adult needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of quality sleep each night. This can vary based on health status and additional needs for recovery, such as during periods of intense training or recovery from injuries.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESSstress-reduction-bang-head-here_u-L-F59O3O0

Stress adaptation requires a coordinated series of responses mediated through the hypothalamus-pituitary-axis (HPA) and sympathetic nervous system, which act to maintain homeostasis and protect against chronic diseases.

Chronic hyperactivation of the HPA axis (which can occur with things like low calorie dieting) has been linked to visceral fat deposition, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, altered lipid profiles, and coronary artery disease. Chronic stress can also lead to increased food intake, as well as relapses and overeating after weight loss has been achieved by dieting.

ENVIRONMENT

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FINALLY! A low maintenance home garden without the time or work of a garden!

There are hundreds of synthetic chemicals currently used for agricultural and industrial applications that are leading to widespread environmental contamination. These include antimicrobials, pesticides/herbicides, plasticizers and flame retardants. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can disrupt hormonal balance and result in developmental and reproductive abnormalities. In addition, some studies link EDC exposure to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.  The Environmental Working Group has a list of the “dirty dozen” endocrine disruptors and an app that identifies these toxic ingredients in cosmetics and other personal-care items.

Limit exposure to EDCs by avoiding chemical laden products and choosing organic when it comes to produce and hygiene products (if you shouldn’t put it in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it on your skin) which are highly sprayed and animals that are fed conventional feed.

EXERCISE

Take the path of most resistance to drive your metabolism through the roof!

Muscle burns a lot of energy.  The greater the muscle mass, the higher the caloric expenditure in every move you make.  Yes, EVERY move, from walking to the car, coming up the stairs, hitting the track or hitting your best friend – more muscle to move demands the body lend greater energy to produce the movement.

The most effective tool for increasing or maintaining lean body mass (LBM) is resistance training.  Maintaining or increasing LBM is essential for a healthy metabolism. It also reduces the tendency to regain weight and is important for maintaining adequate body function with aging.

Resistance exercise has the potential to improve metabolic disorders and reduce the need for medications associated with being overweight (e.g., diabetes and hypertension). It can also reduce abdominal adiposity and biomarkers for cardiovascular disease.

DIET

There are a number of ways to biohack your diet to increase your metabolism. While there are a plethora of diets and trends out there, the best approach, as has remained true for THOUSANDS of years, is to enjoy a diet founded on whole food principles.  Many trend diets only continue to prove very harmful to the body, no matter how much better people feel at their onset.  You really don’t need any one of them.  Many experts would simplify it by saying “eat a little bit of everything but not too much of anything.”

Eating a diet comprised of whole foods, eliminating anything processed or refined, helps to restore the body’s natural mechanisms to regulate energy, appetite, weight, hormonal balance and so much more!  As you work to get back to a sound and simple foundation of high quality foods, you can work to fine-tune your diet based on what works best for you (i.e., maybe less dairy or more nuts/seeds…)

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Some added dietary biohack tips include:

Don’t cut too many calories

When you eat less than you need for basic biological functions (roughly 1,200 calories for the average adult), your body adjusts by slowing your metabolism down. In addition, it can elevate cortisol levels, which leads to the breakdown of lean body mass to meet energy needs, and cravings for fat and sugary foods. Low calorie diets also run the risk of micronutrient deficiencies over time.  Limit caloric deficits to no more than 500 cal/day shy of your baseline for sustainable weightloss.  Diets consisting of less than 1200 cal/day should only be implemented under the close supervision of your healthcare provider.

Consuming enough calories is critical in keeping your metabolism up and giving you the energy needed to press through those awesome workouts (which happen to rev your calorie burn all the more).

Don’t forget the fiber

Plant-based diets that are inherently high in fiber can increase fat burning. Colorful vegetables and fruits also have numerous phytonutrients, which can reduce inflammation, resulting in better health and the prevention of many diseases.  The CDC states that only about 1 in 10 Americans are getting enough fruits and vegetables.  They further state, “Seven of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are from chronic diseases. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity.

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Current recommendations say we should be eating 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (16-18 for athletic types).  In other words: EAT YOUR PLANTS!

Hydrate or Die

A German study found that drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The study concluded that drinking 2 liters of water per day would enhance energy expenditure and that the thermogenic effect of water should be considered in weight loss programs.  Adequate hydration is necessary for a number of functions, including supporting proper detoxification and elimination, and supporting higher energy levels.  You should be drinking AT LEAST half your body weight in ounces (ex: 150 lb person should drink a min. of 75 ounces).  Increase water intake with exertion, consumption of diuretics (coffee, tea, etc.), high sugar/carbohydrate/salty foods or prescription medications, all of which can dehydrate the body.

Eat more organic foods

Researchers report that dieters who consume foods with the most organochlorines (chemicals from pesticides which are stored in fat cells) experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. Other research hints that pesticides disrupts the gut biome and can trigger weight gain. Choose organic in place of highly sprayed foods whenever possible.

Don’t Skip the Fats

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Finally, a totally plant-based Omega Blend offering the perfect balance of omega 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids, containing DHA, EPA and ALA, derived from fruits, algae and seed oils.

Recommendations for “low-fat” are archaic at best.  Research has found that not only does a low-fat diet NOT result in weight loss or improved heart health, it runs the risk of doing far greater harm than good, including contributing to an increase in overall calorie consumption.

We need fat for hormone production, lubrication of the joints, neurological function, nutrient assimilation and more.  A healthy diet consists of 20-35% fats from quality sources.  Avoid margarine and other refined or hydrogenated oils, limit saturated fats (the long-chain fatty acids found in animal products NOT so much the medium-chain fatty acids as found in coconut).  Be sure to include foods such as flaxseeds, avocados, nuts and seeds which also come with fiber and protein, helping to increase satiety while supporting better overall health.

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Eat some bugs.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables helps to create a favorable gut biome which has been found to have a direct relation to weight and metabolic functions. Make sure to include prebiotics and probiotics into your daily diet. Supplementing with a probiotic is also a good strategy to support a healthy body.

Biohacking your metabolism isn’t rocket science, it just takes a little S P E E D.

How about you?  What are your favorite takeaways and where do you get your “competitive edge” over your health and fitness endeavors?

Healthfully Yours,

LaTriciaMorris

 

 

 


References

Center of Disease Control and Prevention, Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables, November 16, 2017

Borsheim, E., Barh, R. Effect of Exercise Intensity, Duration and Mode on Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. Sports Med 2003;33 (14): 1037-1060.

Boschmann M, Steiniger J, Hille U, Tank J, Adams F, Sharma AM, Klaus S, Luft FC, Jordan J. Water-induced thermogenesis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2003 Dec;88(12):6015-9.

Casals-Casas C, Desvergne B. Endocrine disruptors: from endocrine to metabolic disruption. Annu Rev Physiol. 2011;73:135-62.

Chen KY, Brychta RJ, Linderman JD, Smith S, Courville A, Dieckmann W, Herscovitch P, Millo CM, Remaley A, Lee P, Celi FS. Brown fat activation mediates cold-induced thermogenesis in adult humans in response to a mild decrease in ambient temperature. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul;98(7).

Dulloo AG, Geissler CA, Horton T, Collins A, Miller DS. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50.

Gupta, C., Prakash, D. Phytonutrients as therapeutic agents. Journal of Complementary & Integrative Medicine Sep 2014, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p151.

Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39.

Hursel, R.; Viechtbauer, W.; Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity. Sep2009, Vol. 33 Issue 9, p956-961.

Jabekk, P, Moe, I., Meen, H., Tomten, S., Hostmarl, A. Resistance training in overweight women on a ketogenic diet conserved lean body mass while reducing body fat. Nutrition & Metabolism 2010, 7:17.

Knutson, K., Spiegel, K, Penev, P., Van Cauter, E. The Metabolic Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. Sleep Med Rev. Jun 2007; 11(3): 163–178.

Paddon-Jones, E., Westman, E., Mattes, R., Wolfe, R., Astrup. A., Westerterp-Pantenga, M. Protein, weight management, and satiety. Am J Clin Nutr May 2008 vol. 87 no. 5 1558S-1561S.

Redman LM, Heilbronn LK, Martin CK, de Jonge L, Williamson DA, Delany JP, Ravussin E; Pennington CALERIE Team. Metabolic and behavioral compensations in response to caloric restriction: implications for the maintenance of weight loss. PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4377.

Tomiyama AJ, Mann T, Vinas D, Hunger JM, Dejager J, Taylor SE. Low calorie dieting increases cortisol. Psychosom Med. 2010 May;72(4):357-64.

Vicennati V., Pasqui, F., Cavazza, C., Pagotto., U., Pasquali, R. Stress-Related Development of Obesity and Cortisol in Women. Obesity (Sept. 2009): Vol. 17, No. 9, pp. 1678–83.

Wein, Harrison, PhD. “Gut Bacteria May Influence Metabolic Syndrome – NIH Research Matters – National Institutes of Health (NIH).” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/march2010/03152010bacteria.htm&gt;.

Geoff Lecovin, How to Biohack Your Metabolism.  National Academy of Sports Medicine.  December 19, 2014

How Time-Strapped Goal-Diggers are Crushing Their Health & Fitness Goals

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the Cupboard, Founder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life Ministries, Certified Integrative Wellness Counselor and Personal Trainer. 


Overwhelmed?  Overloaded?  Running nothing but a gauntlet?

You’re not alone!

This seems to be the anthem of the average American adult.  Between work, family, volunteer work, and all the other tidbits that pile on our calendars, having a shower and a cup of coffee in the same morning can ring with great triumph.  With so many things demanding of our time, how on earth could we possibly add fitness and food prep on top of it all?

The reality is, with all that’s weighing on you, and for all those counting on you, you can’t afford to not make nutrition and fitness a greater priority in your life!

Deep down, I think you know that and I’m quite certain that’s why the header on this article peaked your interest – because you know it’s critical and you’re daring enough to believe it also possible.

So, how do other time-strapped goal-diggers pull it off?  Glad you asked…

  1. They value opportunities presented throughout the day.

Research supports our need to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.  However, that doesn’t have to be all at one time and you should not underestimate the value of added movement throughout the day.  Skipping the elevator to take the stairs, parking at the back of the lot, or keeping a set of weights in the garage to remind you to crank out a set getting into or out of your car are all ways you can stack fitness efforts throughout the day.

Time-Strapped

  1. They know when to double-time it.
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Any goal-crusher LOVES a good opportunity to crush two birds with one stone (metaphorically speaking, of course.  No bird-pelting going on here.  …sweet little birdies…).

Yes, I totally planked my way through my kitchen as I hand wiped my floors instead of mopping just hours ago.  Which brings me to this point:  in fitness, remember, you don’t have to gym up for every fitness activity.  Look for fun ways to incorporate added movement into even simple tasks.  Waiting for the coffee to brew?  Knock out a set of squats.  Got some reading to do?  Get to walking while you read.  (Environment permitting, of course.  Please, don’t let it be my fault you were walking and reading only to step on a lego or walk off a cliff.)  Speed walk your errands or hot step it up the stairs, ditch the shopping cart in favor of carrying the basket, or make cleaning your house fun and challenging by layering in fitness moves – lunges in reaches, squats when cleaning the low stuff, and plank holds when working floor level.  Get creative and have fun with it!

When it comes to food, thinking just a little bit ahead can make a HUGE difference in a week’s worth of eats.  Even if you don’t do a full afternoon of meal prep, look for ways to double time it in your kitchen.  Example:  When making slower-to-cook grains like brown rice, I like to make 2-3 times what I’ll need so I can stash the rest in the fridge or freezer for quick meals through the week, like a healthful veggie fried rice, beans’n’rice with sautéed onion, or a quick and easy mixed veggie pilaf.

Time-Strapped Copy (2) copy

  1. They know a worthy time-saver when they see one.

“Fast foods” are a no-go for this group but every once in a while, it’s worth it to have someone help with all that peeling and chopping.  With the rapidly growing demand for fresh foods in the marketplace, more businesses are looking for ways to help patrons bridge the gaps between time, money and a need for incredibly scrumptious (but healthier) foods.  Stores like Whole Foods stock plenty of fresh pressed, raw juices and pre-cut produce to allow you to shave that added time off your meal prep.  While I am ABSOLUTELY all for watching the budget and knowing that “freshest is bestest,” I also see the need to regularly make some real assessments when weighing value.  If it’s affordable to do so, and it enables you to make healthy eating a reality in your household, it’s certainly better money spent than an money saved on cheaper but less healthful defaults.

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FINALLY! A low maintenance home garden without the time or work of a garden!
  1. They get in and get it done.

We were all excited to find out that we could actually reap incredible benefits of exercise in just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of exercise.  We were even more stoked to learn that even in those crazy, totally time-crunched weeks, we could reap many of those fitness benefits by cranking up our efforts and going full throttle for 75 minutes per week (25 minute sessions, 3 days a week at high intensity).

Even when the to-do list seems to be getting out of hand, that quick break to get that heart rate up and get that body moving may give you just the boost you need to power through everything else on your list.

Schedule

  1. They don’t leave it to chance.

Health isn’t happenstance.  It’s not the sort of thing we just kindly “get around to” when everything else in our lives makes room for it.  Oh, if you could but get your hands on the calendar of a true goal-digger!  This crew doesn’t wait for it to become convenient.  Because they recognize the significance of it getting done, they plan to do it.  Schedule – Execute – Repeat.  Food and fitness efforts go on the calendar as non-negotiable as anything else.  This isn’t to add another rigid layer to life.  They recognize that having a dedicated time to focus on these areas frees them to be more productive in every other area as they can better focus  in the now and enjoy the time being invested today to make every day to follow incredibly better.livelife.jpg

Truth is, for the grand majority of Americans struggling in their health today, it’s simply a matter of priority (that goes for our time, finances and every other resource we have access to).  If we have time to regularly watch a TV show but “no time” to get in that half hour of exercise…  you fill in that gap.  Wishing and hoping don’t get results.  Successful goal-getters recognize the GREAT value in carving out time in their calendars to invest in health and wellness efforts, not because it’s convenient but because it’s important.

  1. They Close the Gap

As much as we all try so hard to get it right, the reality is, we just don’t nail it all the time.  There are days when they meant to have 13 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and instead, they had a 12 inch sub, a bag of chips and a cookie instead (not that you would fall for such things).  It’s helpful to know we have ways to bridge those nutritional gaps.  Look for ways to add in extra fruits and vegetables throughout the day!  Grab a green vegetable, stash a Complete shake to have on hand and look for ways to upgrade your plate.  In a “bigger is always better” culture, it’s refreshing to know that all those small daily investments stack up and payback in dividends over time.

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They see the line between an investment and an expense.

In line with points 3 & 6, people really on a mission in their health tend to be better with making strong distinctions between an expense and an investment.  Here’s the reality:  Fast food and processed foods are an expense that will keep costing you well beyond the meal.  Healthful foods and quality supplements that help to meet your family’s nutritional needs is an incredible investment that pays off for a lifetime.  The investments you make now in your family’s fitness and nutrition efforts will continue to pay back in spades in terms of finances (you may spend more now but you save so much on medical bills not accrued in the future) and quality of life.  Whether it’s buying more organic, taking the leap and getting JuicePlus+ for your family, or going for that gym membership, these are all very worthy investments you’ll never regret making!

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Finally, a totally plant-based Omega Blend offering the perfect balance of omega 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids, containing DHA, EPA and ALA, derived from fruits, algae and seed oils. 

In other words, investing more heavily into healthier foods and things that will support your efforts to eat better and move more ARE NOT A THREAT to your financial future, they are a fortress for it, protecting your finances in the future and your capacity to flourish in every other area of life.  Whether it’s buying more organic or going for that gym membership, these are all very worthy investments you’ll never regret making!

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So, what’s standing in your way?  The success of your health and wellness goals is in your hands.  All that’s left is to decide – to crush or not to crush?

Healthfully Yours,

LaTriciaMorris

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Post-Workout Recovery Fails and What to Do Instead

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the CupboardFounder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life MinistriesCertified Integrative Wellness Counselor and NASM Personal Trainer

Some of the things we put ourselves through on our journey to get fit can be downright borderline insanity but, as we see those results (not just in slimming down but in overall improvements), we’re reminded why it was all worth it.  Yet, how frustrating is it to put in all that work and it still seem like we’re spinning our tires?

While progress (especially the real and lasting kind) does take some time, there are some things we can and should be mindful of so as to not sabotage our own efforts.  In accomplishing any goal, it is key to see not only the steps we need to take to make our way toward the end goal but to also see things that may be working in opposition to our health and wellness goals.  Below are some I see all too often and what you can do to be sure these hurdles don’t hinder you.

Not Eating at AllAdobe Spark

Especially where weight loss is an aim, it can be tempting to just skip eating altogether right after a workout to ride out that post-workout burn.  While that can seem like a good plan, it could actually do more to hinder your goals in the long term.  When working out, your body relies heavily on the glycogen it has stored in the liver and muscles tissues to supply the energy it needs to complete what’s being asked of it.  The longer you workout, the more glycogen stores get depleted.  Now, as these reserves run out, the body can and will work to convert fat to usable energy.  However, because of the work it must do to convert that fat to usable energy, performance tends to be compromised, triggering a cycle that ultimately leads to exhaustion and failure.

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 1.5 g carbohydrates/kg body weight within 30 minutes post-exercise is recommended for maximum glycogen replenishment(1).  Delaying carbohydrate intake by even 2 hours can decrease total muscle glycogen synthesis by 66% (2).  The post-workout environment may hasten glycogen repletion as a result of increased blood flow to the muscles and an increased sensitivity of the cells to the effects of insulin.(3)

Waiting to refuel until your starving is a good way to drive yourself to overeat (which we justify because, you know, we worked out).  Helping the body replenish its reserves immediately after exercise is a good way to avoid a ravenous binge, and prepare your body to bring it even better (burning even more calories and building even more muscle) the next time you step to the gym.

Craving carbohydrates post-workout is totally normal.  Having sensible amounts to meet these demands is a pro recovery move.

Reaching to “Reward” Rather Than to Restore

Adobe Spark

I can’t tell you how often I hear people at the gym, talking about how much they look forward to getting their hands in that cookie jar or having a face-full of cake straight after the gym as the “reward” for all their hard work.  My question is, why do that to yourself?

For starters, and studies back me up on this, we shouldn’t be looking to a “reward” system to keep us on track anyway.  Studies show that people are significantly less likely to engage in an activity for which they’d normally get a “reward” once the “reward” is taken away.  Example: children who were rewarded for art were significantly less likely do it simply for the sake of doing it whereas children who were offered no reward were more likely to continue to participate over the long haul, simply for the enjoyment of the activity.

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The thought pattern that this caters too is “working out sucks and I should be rewarded for doing it at all.”  Your workout and that great post-workout feeling should be the reward in itself.  Even where it can be painful, even downright gruesome at times, count it all joy.  It is a GIFT to be able to be active, to participate in such challenging activities and to know you’re getting stronger, fitter, and faster by the day.  

Instead of spending your workout pondering how much you hate it and on what you’ll “get to” have on the other side of it, try redirecting your focus to thoughts of gratitude and even excitement at the progress you know you’re going to make as you bring your best effort every time.  Pick a key scripture or positive affirmation to focus in on and let that saturate your mind as you work to be the healthiest version of yourself possible.

Another problem with this habit really is that not only does reaching for the sweet-eats post-exercise reinforce the negative associations with exercise and the need to follow it up with something to “make it all better” but it also primes the body for defeat.  When you step to that plate, that class, those weights, that track… you are placing a lot of demands on the body.  You’re not just expending energy.  The bones, the muscles, the joints, the lungs, and the heart are all working very hard to produce the work being demanded.

Post-workout recovery is not just a time to restore glycogen levels (to get that blood sugar back up) but also a time to provide the body with the raw materials it needs to restore the body and help it to rebuild itself with greater strength.  You cannot expect the body to be of superior construction with sub-par materials.  Consuming sugary/processed foods and neglecting to restore nutrient levels is a quick way to run the body ragged, leading to burnout.  Be sure you look for top nutritional value in anything you’re looking to incorporate into your post-workout plan.

Neglecting to Prepare the Body Pre-Workout

Adobe Spark

By now, most people understand that the foods they eat after their workout and throughout the day factor into the speed and quality of their recovery. The foods you eat before a workout can also play an important role in preparing for the tissue-rebuilding process once the workout is over.

Digestion is a lengthy process; proteins, fats and carbohydrates that you ingest prior to the workout will still be circulating in the body afterward. For this reason, choose your foods wisely. Make sure you get high-quality, lean protein along with some complex carbohydrates, especially if you plan on an intense workout. Meals should be consumed two-four hours prior to your workout to avoid digestive issues or cramps, or that lag you feel trying to workout while your body is also working to break down the food you just ate.

If you must have something before your workout and don’t have this window to wait, keep it small and opt for things that break down more quickly like bananas or other fruits.  Even better – puree them into a quick smoothie or grab a raw juice.  This will allow for more rapid gastric emptying and make the energy and nutrients available to you sooner.

Protein OverdoseAdobe Spark

We have been fed so much junk over protein, it’s just mind-boggling.

Yes, your body needs proteins as part of its daily needs, especially with post-exercise recovery.

HOWEVER, your body can only do so much so fast.  Excessive amounts of proteins will not help it accomplish this any faster.  This is of special concern with products containing whey protein, and other animal products, as too many animal proteins place a heavy burden on the kidneys, in particular, and the body as a whole, generating much stress and inflammation.

Be real with yourself on what you’re doing and what you need.  20 minutes of yoga does not justify 40 extra grams of protein for the day.  I’ve seen people knock back protein shakes like the shake itself is going to build muscle.  It won’t.  Your body will only build muscle in accordance with the demands being placed on it along with the presence of adequate energy and nutrients.  Consuming more than it needs only prompts the body to use it as fuel or convert it to fat to be used for fuel later.

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

Bear in mind, we get amino acids (the building blocks of protein) from everything we eat (at least if you’re eating those nutritious whole foods).  MOST people already consume plenty more than enough to meet their daily needs, even with the added workout.  That’s not to say we don’t need any or that you shouldn’t protein shakes at all.  Just be mindful of the sources, quality and how much you’re consuming.

All that being said, HEALTHY shakes and smoothies can be GREAT post-workout recovery options, especially because being in a liquid form makes it easier for the body to assimilate.  Just make sure the focus in on maximal nutrition, looking at the body’s needs as a whole, beyond simple protein intake.

My favorite here (shameless plug, yes, because it tastes fantastic and has so much to offer and happens to be my personal favorite) are JuicePlus+’s Complete Shakes.juice-plus--complete-variety.img  They blend down smooth, even in a shaker (SO unlike so many other brands), they’re so delicious my kids request them for dessert though they’re not loaded with sugar, they’re plant-based and they incorporate all sorts of superfood extras to further help you in your efforts to become the healthiest version of yourself possible.

Getting Too “Radical” for Your Own Good

Your awesome.  I get it.  You get it.  Everybody gets it.  While I love that you have no qualms with being so totally radical, you might want to watch how much free-radical action you’re generating during those killer workouts.  (I know.  Totally cheesy but you’ll thank me for being so ridiculous when you ponder this later.)

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The body produces many free radicals daily but generates even more of them during intense exercise.  Free-radical damage is a well-known offender when it comes to generating a lot of inflammation in the body (and many health experts have a saying – “inflammation is the root of all disease”).  In order to combat free radicals, we need to make sure we are taking in plenty of antioxidants, which we get from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Making it a point to include some raw fruits in our post-recovery grabs is a great way to take in plenty of extra antioxidants packaged with enzymes and nutrient rich water to hydrate and nourish the cells throughout the body.  You certainly get extra credit here for reaching for the raw greens, whether in a juice, smoothie or straight off the fork as they are chock full of phytonutrients to support restoration and vitality to every cell and tissue throughout the body.

 

 

Resources:

(1) Ivy JL, Lee MC, Broznick JT Jr, Reed MJ. Muscle glycogen stor- age a er di erent amounts of carbohydrate ingestion. J Appl Physiol. 1988;65(5):2018-2023.

(2) Liljeberg HG, Akergerg AK, Björck IM. E ect of the glycemic index and content of indigestible carbohydrates of cereal-based breakfast meals on glucose tolerance at lunch in healthy sub- jects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(4):647-655.

(3) Berning JR, Steen SN. Nutrition for Sport and Exercise. Gaithers- burg, MD: Aspen Publishers; 1998.

How to Stop The New Year’s Flop & Drop the Weight for Good

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the CupboardFounder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life Ministries, Certified Integrative Wellness Counselor and NASM Personal Trainer. 

It’s the New Year and the gyms are getting pretty crowded.  While some people roll their eyes at this wave of “resolutioners” that come pouring into the gym after the holidays, I found myself somewhat appreciative in a sense that, if nothing else, this time of year serves as a reminder to us all of the importance of giving better attention to our health.  In that, we have such a great opportunity to cheer others on toward success, to help them enjoy being there and to be a part of this year being different for them.  What a gift, right?

{I admittedly found myself quite reluctant at first to even touch on this topic as I hate the mindset and self-hatred it tends to cater too but then, I suppose this is all the more reason I just had to chime in on this discussion as my heart is for you to break free from all the garbage and the defeat, and truly walk in triumph FOR GOOD this time!}

No doubt about it, establishing new goals, new schedules and new plans is hard enough and the commitment it takes to see it through to being a true transformation comes in no small package.  It’s no surprise we see so many struggle to maintain those new commitments once the luster wears off and life lays into us once again.

Still, by being mindful and intentional, it is absolutely possible to not only achieve great and lasting success but to actually REALLY learn to enjoy it too.  Not that I could possibly cover it all here but below are some things I’ve learned along my journey and know will be of great value to you too.

Prep Your Body

Clean Over Lean

Running on all we heard growing up, we often think the first place to start is by trimming the fat.  While scaling things back and being mindful of intake may very well be in order, it is better to start by focusing on whole foods, eating as clean as possible.  This means ditching processed and refined foods, buying organic where we can and eating plenty of fresh, local, seasonal produce.   (This is especially important as many processed foods tend to disrupt the endocrine system and interfere with the body’s natural hunger/satiety mechanisms and how it handles food, stored fats and more.)

In order to prepare the body for weight-loss, it is especially important to support the health and function of the detoxing organs, namely, the colon, kidneys, and liver but let’s not underestimate the importance of the body’s detoxing system as a whole.

Adipose tissue (fat cells) doesn’t just store fat, but is also used by the body to “stash” toxins in the system that it’s otherwise unable to eliminate and which could be very damaging to the organs if not dealt with somehow.1  

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READY TO TAKE HEALTHY BACK?  CLICK HERE TO START LEARNING HOW.

Eat Clean:

Fiber Up

Fiber works to stave off hunger, scrub the walls of the digestive tract and to absorb toxins in the system for elimination from the body.  (Be mindful to gradually increase so as not to overly stimulate the colon.)

Drink More Water

The body uses water for many things, including the removal of toxins and all sorts of waste from the body.  Staying adequately hydrate will help the body as it flushes things out of the system via the colon and kidneys.  This, of course, is in addition to it helping to reduce hunger (remember, hunger is another sign of dehydration as the body seeks to get the water it needs wherever it can, in food or liquid form).

Eat More Raw

Raw foods contain fiber, water, enzymes, and a wealth of phytonutrients to support all of the body’s processes.  Because they’re so water-rich, they help to hydrate the body and better help with satiety while consuming less calories.  The enzymes in the food aid digestion and free the body’s own enzymes to do more clean up work, helping to restore optimal function throughout the system.

Nutritional-Density over Caloric-Density

In our culture, we give very strong consideration to how much food we’re going to get (and not in a good way).  We get obsessed with big portions and often give little thought to the nutritional value being provided in what we’re eating.  What we have to understand too is that, as we have cravings, the body is not always just looking for calories but can also be looking to meet it’s other nutritional needs (such as for iron, calcium, manganese or magnesium).  In aiming to meet the body’s nutritional needs, we typically also well meet our caloric needs and the system finds its way to homeostasis.

essential-oils
We absolutely love Eden’s Garden Essential Oils. What a joy to get quality oils from a company that sows back into the lives of others!

Helping the body to eliminate excess waste will prepare it to better work to eliminate toxins and to re-establish balance throughout the system.  Even where we may need to watch intake, it should be much easier to scale it back without the crazy voracious appetite turning you all hangry and driving you to ditch your efforts.  As the body’s natural mechanisms are restored and nutritional needs are met, hunger should start to scale back and be more self-regulating, helping us to overcome compulsions to overeat, and helping the body to naturally work its way back to a healthy weight.

 

Make Sure You’re Eating Enough

This may seem counter-intuitive because we well understand that, in order to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories than we expend.  However, a common error in weight loss is to come in way under the caloric budget which ultimately slows the body’s metabolism and primes us for an eventual binge.  What’s worse is that once normal food intake resumes, the slower metabolism makes it all the easier for the body to accumulate those extra pounds all over again.

I try to especially emphasize fueling appropriately for the work demands I’m placing on my body.  I try not to show up to the gym under-fueled as I find this self-defeating.  Instead, I strive to take in plenty enough calories to power through an intense workout and let that post-workout metabolism roar.

While it may not promise to get you there quite as fast, maintaining only a slight caloric deficit of 200-300 calories, but no more than a 500-calorie deficit, per day will lead to sustainable weight loss and set you well on a path to long-term success.

 

Make a Move

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

While it may be tempting to go all “couch-to-5k” over the next month, it’s incredibly important to be mindful of where we’re at, what we’re capable of (mentally and physically) and to never underestimate the cumulative effects and possibilities in making even small but intentional efforts toward our health and wellness goals.

One tip that stuck with me years ago was to “Commit to 10.”  In other words, even when you don’t feel like doing it or even when you feel like you really don’t have the time, commit to doing at least 10 minutes of intentional movement to exercise the body.  Most of the time, by this point, you’ll be revved and ready to power through the rest of the workout.  Even if you don’t, you will still know you have done something for the day and reinforce your intentions to be more active.  This is a great way to avoid missing three days in a row and calling the whole week a bust or feeling like you’ve already gotten off track.

Get up and go for a walk down the hall.  Park at the back of the lot.  Make the extra trip up the stairs and back.  It doesn’t have to be a half day at the gym.  While you DO want to keep that train going and build up to a strong exercise regimen, don’t underestimate the power of making those small, intentional moves toward those goals.

Prep Your Brain

Stop Giving Yourself a Way Out

So many resolutions start with “I’m going to try” or “I hope to…”  While trying is a good thing, it’s not as powerful a declaration over your intentions as determining now that you will, in fact, do just what you said.  Learn to catch your own excuses as you make them and reset your thoughts, words and actions toward the victory you aim to take hold of on the other side of your efforts.

Get Real & Get S.M.A.R.T.

Too many people flop on their New Year’s Resolutions because they set goals that set them up for failure.  This may seem like an obvious statement but too many people still miss it.  In order for you to be successful, the goal should be realistic.

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Think you have no time for nutrition?   Make your day Complete with grab’n’go goodness! Non-GMO – Vegan – Low Fat – No Cholesterol – No Artificial Flavoring – No Coloring – No preservatives – No Wheat, Dairy or Eggs – No Added Caffeine or Herb

 S.M.A.R.T. goals are:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable (being challenging but not too extreme)

Realistic (yes, something humanly possible) and

Timely

Set goals out by establishing the ultimate long-term goal then decide what milestones you’d like to reach each quarter or month, then decide what steps you’re going to take this week to move you toward that goal.

Count Your Victories and Just Focus on Taking the NEXT Step

When you find yourself getting overwhelmed about the distance yet to be traveled, turn your attentions instead to the victories you’ve already achieved (even if it was just that you made it all the way through yesterday or the past week) and determine now to take the next step toward your goal.   That may mean just making it through lunch, staying on plan, or making it a point to do at least 10-15 minutes of intentional exercise in sticking with your commitment to move more this year.  As you do this, you will help to reinforce the truth that you can do this and you will.

Respect the Process

It’s easy to get incredibly frustrated with the time it takes to achieve our health and wellness goals, especially when we want that weight gone like yester-month.  I know, for me, God has shown me so much through the process and done some pretty incredible things along the journey.  There is much greater reward to be had than finally reaching that goal.  While I have been glad to get closer to where I’d like to be physically, I cannot begin to articulate the treasure God has given me in all I’ve learned through the process – great things that spill over to the benefit of so many other areas of my life.

Remember, your body isn’t just looking to get rid of extra fat.  As you embark on a journey to reduce weight, get back in shape and work toward being the best/healthiest version of yourself possible, your body is busy doing much work to cleanse, heal, rebuild and restore.  It is an incredible gift and we should be grateful God made our bodies capable of performing such tasks.  Stop hating your body and start appreciating it.  Respect all that it’s working to accomplish and make sure you’re providing it with all it needs to do so.

Show Some Love

Even if you’re the “newbie,” you can still play a key role in making someone else’s gym time a joy and in turn, you’ll find you enjoy that time more.  I find it incredibly helpful in my effort to stay on point and maintain that commitment, that I truly look forward to seeing the people I work out with week after week.  I love having the chance to cheer them on and their push pushes me to bring my best with each class.  It really gives me a great reason to not want to miss out on those classes.

Make it a point to establish a strong network of support and, where possible, lock arms with others on their journey to health freedom too.

Wherever you’re at today, know that you absolutely can achieve lifelong success.  Whether you’re looking to lose weight, get shredded, overcome a health malady or just to be intentional about walking in vibrant health, I wish you all the best in your efforts and cheer you on with great anticipation, looking forward to hearing all about your successes!

 

Be sure to follow this blog and give the Eden Life Ministries page a like so we can stay connected and you can be among the first to know when fresh content comes your way!

 

Resources:

Toxicological Function of Adipose Tissue: Focus on Persistent Organic Pollutants,
Michele La Merrill, et al., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3569688/

A Dozen Gift Ideas for the Health Nuts in Your Life

While we may seem to be a little on the picky side, we health-minded (obsessed) folk really aren’t that hard to shop for.  Here is a quick list of ideas to get those gears turning as you look to gift those you love, not just with more stuff, but with the kind of gifts that show love, thoughtfulness and support.

1. The Big Grab Baskets

What health enthusiast wouldn’t love a basket full of goodies? Of course, we’re not talking about cookies and brownies in a jar, or those mega baskets of cheeses and smoked meats. We’re talking about a bounty of life dropped right in their laps. Here are some things we would LOVE to see in some gift baskets:

The Edible Basket:

  • Goji Berries
  • Dried Blueberries or Dried Fruits without sweeteners or preservatives
  • Medjool Dates
  • Date Rolls
  • Raw Cacao for Smoothies or Shakes
  • Probiotic Dark Chocolate
  • Nut Butters
  • Kale Chips
  • Flax Crackers
  • Organic Popcorn + Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Trail Mix (real deal, no added sugars, sulfites, hydrogenated oils or canola, or candies)
  • Salad Jar filled with portioned crunchy/mixed toppings (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or chopped walnuts with raisins or chopped dried figs)

A recipe book or two would make a great addition to this basket to really round it off.

The Superfood Basket:

  • Acai
  • Goji Berries
  • Dried Blueberries
  • Raw Cacao (Nibs or Powder)
  • Hemp Hearts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Almonds
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds

The Blender-full Basket:

  • Mini-blender
  • Long, narrow silicone spatula so we can get every last drop of that smoothie out of the container
  • Acai
  • Raw Cacao (Powder)
  • Hemp Hearts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Bee Pollen (unless they’re vegan)
  • Spirulina, Moringa or other Greens Powders
  • Liquid Stevia
  • Fresh fruit (if you’re packing it up soon before gifting it off)

The “Ready to Go Remedies” Basket

The “Hot Cup of Joe (or Tea)” Basket

  • A pair of nice mugs
  • Organic Coffee
  • Organic and Specialty Teas (Green, Ginger, Oolong, Jasmine, Chamomile… there are really so many to choose from)
  • Stevia or Xylitol
  • A gift card to their favorite bookstore to nab a new title

The Home & Self-Care Basket

  • Essential Oil Hydrosols (especially great for those who have little ones in the home)
  • Natural, Toxin-Free Soaps, Lotions and Lip Balms
  • Soy Candles made with Essential Oils and Natural Fragrances (don’t you dare drop Febreeze in that basket!)
  • Natural Room Fresheners (They won’t likely be so glad to get the Glade)
  • Essential oil diffuser

2.  Complete Shakes with a Mini-Blender or Cool Shaker Bottle

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Health & Fitness Freaks have the hardest time finding shakes that taste great, have a great texture and come without all the junkity-junk found in so many products these days.  JuicePlus+’s Complete Shakes are crazy delicious (French Vanilla and Dutch Chocolate with variety packs also available), super smooth (yes, even when just mixed in the shaker bottle) and are chock full of all sorts of nutritional goodness.  I really love that they can be bought in a large bag or single-serve packets that make them uber convenient too.  Did I mention that there also vegan-friendly?  Seriously, I don’t care how much I have stock piled, I would totally squeal at getting these as a gift!

3.  Essential Oils & Diffusers

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Company’s like Eden’s Garden offer spectacular gift sets of all shapes and sizes, making it easy to grab a box set that’s sure to put a smile on most any natural wellness gal’s (or guy’s) face.  Our favorite are the Biblical Set, the Be Blessed Set, the Everyday Essential Oil Set, and their Synergy Blend Set.  Of course, their “Create-Your-Own” Sets are a great way to save money nabbing a collection of your favorite 2, 6, 12, or 32 oils.

The Simple Start Set also makes a great gift as it comes with extra basic bottles, roller bottles, personal diffusers,  and coconut carrier oil in addition to 6 incredible essentials.

If you REALLY want to knock the socks off your essential oil enthusiast, you can go Uber big with the Supreme Set that gives them 10 ml each of 64 different oils or you can go UBER UBER big with their Complete Set which has them set with 128 essential oils.

Their “Ok for Kids” collection makes a great gift for the kiddos too with blends that smell so good that mother dearest just may nab them too.



4. Eco-Friendly Travel Mugs, Water Bottles & Travel Containers

Glass bottles with the beautiful silicone grips, eco-friendly mugs to sip some hot green tea out of and some travel containers for all our healthful nibbles’n’bits always come in handy and are always super appreciated!

5. A Super Schnazzy Fitness Tracker

There are so many great fitness trackers on the market today, from MyZone (which I love because it has a band to wrap around the torso, keeping it out of the way and from getting smacked around during intense training) to FitBit, Garmin and Apple’s iWatch.

woman-girl-technology-music.jpg6.  The Gift of Music

This one is really for the one that loves to just pop their earbuds in and jam out like an all-star in the gym.  Gift cards for downloads or a subscription to apps like Spotify can be a great gift or stocking-stuffer.

7. The Gift of Killer Fitness Wear

Any gym-junkie would love getting some super stylish fitness wear, especially if that gym-junkie happens to be a female of most any age.  If you don’t know sizes, opt for a gift card that gives them permission to pick their faves.

I personally love all the great fitness wear that keeps coming out with powerful scriptures and declarations on them like:

  • “They shall soar on wings like eagles.  They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.”
  • “She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come without fear of the future.” and
  • “I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me.”

Of course, there are many other really cute ones out there bring faith and fitness together in some really awesome fitness wear.  Some inspiration with their perspiration, you know what I’m sayin’?

8. Kitchen Equipment

Whether your health nut likes to cook or not, there are a ton of gadgets, gizmos and appliances out there that can make quick work of healthy, homemade meals.  These are just a few things we would love to have land in our laps.fresh-healthy-kitchen-2994-830x550

  • Smoothie jars with special smoothie lids
  • Salad jars with those cute little containers for our favorite sauces
  • Meal prep bowls
  • Food processor
  • Blender (personal or larger countertop models)
  • Juicer
  • Vegetable spiralizer
  • Choppers & cutting boards
  • Good knives
  • Ulu with a gorgeous salad serving set
  • Nice eco-friendly cookware (without the toxic coatings, please!)
  • Bamboo or other wooden serving sets

9.  1-Month to their Favorite Gym or Group Fitness Class

I know this one may seem to cross a line or break some cardinal rule.  Be sure you know how the person you’re buying it for and that he/she understands the heart in which it is being given.  This would be great accompanied with a new journal and a note of encouragement in how proud you are of this special loved one for being such an inspiration to you and others in how they bring such effort to really stepping it up in their health.  Let this be a tool to cheer them on and show them your support.

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10.  Fitness Gear

Whether we’re hitting the gym or working out at home, there’s most always something we could really use or would love to introduce.  These things can be small like resistance bands or toe-sox or bigger like a heavy bag, inexpensive as a new mat or a killer investment like that TRX band set we’ve been eyeballing for months.  Do a little digging to find out what kind of fitness activities their into and nab a piece of gear that really resonates with that inner warrior of theirs.

11.  A Tower Garden

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I guarantee you – this will be the one they talk about for YEARS to come!

I realize this one may be a big buy but it is sure to be the gift of the year for anyone passionate about healthy foods. A tower garden will give them year round abundance of fresh, vibrant foods with very little cost to maintain. It’s even loved and well-enjoyed by people who otherwise struggle with getting anything to grow. Kids LOVE them and they make it too ridiculously easy to have healthy, homegrown foods indoors and out, year-round. If you’re looking to give the gift that totally beats out all others for the year, GO FOR THE GARDEN!

12.  Gift cards to their favorite Health & Wellness Store

We love when someone gives a free pass to hit the Health Food Store and just shop for whatever wellness goodies we can get our hands on!

Whatever you end up going with, we thank you for your thoughtfulness and for using this as a time to show your support!  The gift of wellness is truly a gift that keeps on giving.  

Praying you and your family a Very Merry Christmas, filled with more joy and blessings than you can count or contain!

Your turn.  What are your favorite health & wellness gifts to give or receive?



*Note, this article does contain affiliate links to products for which I receive a small commission for purchases at no added cost to you.  The links to products featured are not just for profit – these are products I personally use and absolutely love!

Why Christians SHOULD Be the Fittest People on the Planet Yet So Many of Them Aren’t

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and the Founder of Eden Life Ministries and See Kids Thrive

I know the title here may sound a bit like a bold statement but the reality is, those who’ve been redeemed by Christ and received the full measure of what He’s done for us should be the healthiest, most vibrant people you’ve ever seen.  I think one of the great testimonies to our faith is how God has given us the ability to live an abundant life, walking in wellness and joy.  Yet, too often, even when we’re willing to believe that’s His desire for others, we struggle to believe it’s His desire for us.

Is that you?

Maybe it’s just me but I get incredibly upset seeing Christians – young Christians with decades of powerful living ahead of them – miss it because they’ve settled for less than Christ’s vision for them, especially where they’ve fallen prey to modern/worldly living that’s slowly killing them.

The Word says that we’ve been given the choice – life or death, blessings or curses (Deut. 30).  God says “choose life that you and your children may live.”  We have been granted freedom but too often we use that freedom as a cover up for a lack of personal responsibility and discipline.  

Yes, we are totally free to gorge ourselves full of BonBons and Bacon Cheeseburgers but as we understand that our bodies were not created for our own indulgence and we start to process the reality of what those foods do to us, do we honestly believe that way of living resonates at all with the plans and the call God has on our lives?  I’d argue a VERY LOUD “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

While there are many things that have held us captive in our health (and believe me, I have every intention of tackling them in the time ahead), there are several acts we need to catch ourselves in so we can turn the tables on our health and consequently become more powerful and effective in every other area of our lives.  That’s not to say we have to be perfect but we should be doing the best we can with what we’ve been given.

I typically try to keep my writing a little more upbeat and really hope you guys don’t think I’m out to give anyone a word-lashing, but I really feel like these are some key points we, as the Church, need to rethink and I don’t really know how else to approach it but head-on.  Sugar-coating it, playing victim and patting ourselves on the back about it isn’t helping!

I look forward to every opportunity to encourage and uplift here but we have got to be willing to catch ourselves in these traps so we can learn to avoid them in the future, freeing us to embrace an incredible life.

Dr. Caroline Leaf consistently reiterates the importance of being “transformed by the renewing of the mind.”  We have to change our mind before we change our behavior and today we’re doing just that.

1. We abuse the privileges granted in Scripture.

Got a Christian that doesn’t want to exercise?  You just might hear:  “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  (1 Timothy 4:8)  

Note, this passage doesn’t say physical training is of no value.  It merely reminds us of the priorities we ought to have – godliness is of more value than speed or brute strength.  Physical training is good for this lifetime but spiritual training is good for eternity.

Maybe you have somebody who wants to eat whatever they want to eat and they don’t want to hear a thing about it…  They might say, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”  (Colossians 2:16)

 

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READY TO TAKE HEALTHY BACK?  CLICK HERE TO START LEARNING HOW.

And I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked about passages in which God declared “all foods clean.”  {Yes, He declared them “clean” in that what we eat has no bearings on our spiritual status.  A rack of ribs will not disqualify from entering His presence but that doesn’t change the scavenger nature of the animal it came from. }

The thing is, the issue here is not about holiness and sanctification to which these passages are referring – the issue hereis stewardship.  God set the record straight with Peter because the food laws of the Jewish people were serving as a barrier keeping people from hearing the Gospel.  It was creating division amongst a people God intended to be united.  However, this was not to say that all foods are equal in terms of our health. 

While we are free from sin and the bondage that comes with rigid legalism, we are not exempt from biological cause and effect.

We can totally acknowledge the importance of demonstrating good stewardship over our finances and even in not being wasteful with things like food.  We understand that as good stewards, we should care for our environments, taking good care of the gifts God has granted and striving to be wise with the resources He’s given us, using what He’s provided to advance His kingdom and live a life that brings Him praise.  

Now, maybe my view is a little less conventional here but hear me out.  

We only get ONE body and that ONE body is our “earth suit” in which we walk out the entirety of our lifetime.  That ONE body, can be a great gift to you OR it can be the source of some of your greatest burdens.  By and large, that choice is up to you.  While I don’t claim to know the answer as to why some people never see the fullness of healing here on earth or why some people are born with disabilities we do not yet have an answer to, the evidence is increasingly clear that MOST people could be living an incredibly vibrant life ifthey were but willing to seek God’s wisdom, pray it through, and align their lives with that desire.   

Yes, you have every right to eat processed foods that destroy your body and eventually lead to disease.  But, as Paul says “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’-but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12)   

At some point, we have to realize that our determination to eat the foods that result in death and disease is not a measure of freedom but rather a form of bondage.  If you do something you know you ought not (especially where you know you really don’t want the results inherent to it), you are not walking in freedom but enslavement to something the enemy will, if given the opportunity, use to destroy you.

Pray God would help you see His plan for you in this area and that He would give you the scriptures and support to help you realize it.  

2. We take the gift for granted.

I know it may not seem overly profound to put it this way but in a great way, I think we should walk in the gifts we have with gratitude, rather than tossing them aside as we take them for granted, knowing there are so many that wish they could have such gifts and don’t.  

In terms of food, we live in a time and country where most of us have access to incredible, life-giving foods in abundance yet we choose, (for whatever reason we offer) to let them rot on the shelves.  People around the globe wish they could eat so well while we stock our pantries with non-foods and complain about why we don’t really like all that healthy stuff.  So many call it “rabbit food” and turn their noses up to it.  Excuse me but, no, that’s human food and is an incredible gift to have.

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Think you have no time for nutrition?   Make your day Complete with grab’n’go goodness! Non-GMO – Vegan – Low Fat – No Cholesterol – No Artificial Flavoring – No Coloring – No preservatives – No Wheat, Dairy or Eggs – No Added Caffeine or Herb

Here’s where some may not like me but I shall toss it out there any way.  It’s not theory.  It’s fact.  Acknowledging it could save your life.  Ignoring it could cost you dearly, even your own life.

God made us.  God made the food that would feed us – food that would give us energy and help our bodies ward of all manner of disease.  The food God provided is God’s provision (“pro”+”vision” = for the vision He has for our lives).  He made it to nourish and satisfy, prevent cancer, rid our bodies of all manner of toxins, abolish inflammation, repair tissues and more.  Yet, we say “God, I don’t like that.  I’d rather eat what this company/restaurant/fast food joint made…”  (As though Nabisco is somehow better at making food than God. ? )

Now, when that all backfires, because we have chosen man-made counterfeits to God’s provision, whose fault is that?   I’m not trying to throw guilt but I am trying to challenge our perspectives.  

We should be eating and living for purpose over pleasure.  Any time pleasure takes the helm in our decision-making process, destruction is not far behind.  It catches up with us all eventually.  Yet, when we determine to eat and live for purpose rather than for pleasure, we end up finding great pleasure in the things that fuel the purpose.

How do we justify eating ourselves into diabetes and heart disease then act like God put that on us as our cross to bear?  If this is where you’re at, I hate to have to tell you but no doctor or medication will/can bring about the fullness of life that only God and His provision can give.  Too many Christians make it too easy on the enemy when it comes to taking us out.  We’re killing ourselves with a fork and still giving him the credit.

With fitness too, we need to stop complaining because those first few minutes hurt or because its work.  We should be incredibly grateful to be able.  Even if we’re so far from “fit,” we can’t fathom stepping onto a track, we can still take those first few steps then ask God’s help to take a few more. 

I recently walked with a very determined young man as he left his wheelchair to make his way up two sets of stairs to walk with our group.  He was on his knees because he couldn’t walk but, holding onto the rail with one hand, and my hand under his other arm, he made it to the top.  You could see his pain and struggle but he made it.  In my heart of hearts I know that if he had but the chance, he’d run – he’d run with all he’s got.

Stop complaining that you “have to walk” here or there or the length of a few extra parking spaces at the grocery store and be grateful you can.  

I dare you to step to health and fitness in gratitude – even and especially when it gets hard.  Instead of telling yourself how bad you hate it, tell your God how grateful you are that He has made you able and that He is making you stronger with every step you take with Him toward the amazing life He’s envisioned for you.

Do you realize what Christ has given that you could live well?

He bore the stripes upon His back that we would be healed (1 Pet. 2:24), he came to set the captives free (Isa. 61:1) and came that you would have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).  

I cannot tell you with what depth of sincerity I pray that we as Christians would come to understand and appreciate what we’ve been given and that we would walk in the incredible gifts He has so freely granted us all.

3. We forget who we’re living for.

We as Christians understand that we have been bought with a price.  Our lives are not our own.  In that, I come from a perspective that while my body is a gift given me by God for my use in the time that I am here, it is not to be used just for my own ends or pleasure.  

This body is one of the greatest assets I have as I work to reach people with the Gospel and for meeting the needs of those around me.  With these arms, I get to bring comfort and carry my little ones.  With these feet I get to go wherever God sends me or travel whatever distance I must to walk alongside others, using the voice I’ve been given to uplift and speak life over all I can.  

My body is a gift to me but it is not exclusively for me.  I was created by God with works prepared in advance for me to do and it is much harder to do those things if I abuse the body he’s given me to do them with.  

Again, we’re talking about stewardship.  My aim is not to make it all about me but to protect my capacity to serve God and others.  

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

I don’t know about you but I’m not up for spending the last 3-5 DECADES of my life deteriorating, winding down into the grave.  I want to make the most out of this ONE LIFE I’ve been given, to be as powerful and effective as I can in my ONE SHOT to do so.  

Once the curtain drops on your life, that’s it.  Won’t you be so glad to say you didn’t live it just to indulge and die but that you lived it with purpose on purpose.  Safeguarding your health plays a critical part in that!

4. We fail to see what it means to everyone else.

Last but not least, we often let ourselves get away with not walking in wellness because we limit our view on who it affects to ourselves.  The truth is, you cannot even begin to calculate the lives that are impacted whether you are walking in sickness or in health.  

Growing up with a mom who was always sick, I believe this especially applies to our spouses and children.  

Consider the gifts you give to them when you take care of yourself and consider what you’re ultimately asking of them when you don’t.

Even beyond our immediate family, there are countless people in the world desperately in need of the gifts God has placed within you to give to them.  Too many Christians flick through the channels and scroll through the stories with an “awe, that’s so sad, I’ll have to pray for that…” when they find themselves too weak/tired/sick/distracted to respond any other way.  Yes, pray.  Pray continuously.  But remember what James said loud and clear – faith without works is dead.  We pray but we’ve also been called to take action and to make a difference in this world.

Too many Christians are so tied up in doctor’s offices and waiting chairs that they feel powerless to affect the many things unfolding around us.  Yet, meanwhile, people are dying because they lack basic resources.  Widows and the elderly are slowly losing themselves in loneliness and a life they can no longer keep up with.  Precious, amazing children, who but wish they had someone to wrap a pair of loving arms around them are being cast aside or trafficked for use by wicked men.  

I know this view may seem harsh – maybe even extreme – but it’s still not as extreme as Christians willingly/carelessly settling for a life that’s far less than what we’ve been called to and actually believing we’re powerless against the world as it devolves around us.  Are cookies, cakes, pies and fries really worth it?  Are we really willing to trade off a life of power for a life of indulgence?  That’s not how the children of God should be living!  

 

It’s long past time we as Christians accepted that there’s much more to our lives than ourselves and that there are others out there waiting and counting on us to be who God Himself has made us to be.  We should strive to be the healthiest, fittest people on the planet because we’re determined to live ready to be used, ready to help, ready to be a light in this dark world.

We don’t have time for self-indulgence and lackluster living.

We must rise up and walk in the victory God has granted us in every area of our lives.

God has placed within you a gift to help bring the change that the world so desperately needs.  I dare you to live in such a spiritual, mental and physical preparedness that as God says “GO!,” you’re hopping saying “God, I’m ready!”

I am so grateful that as you determine to shine for Him, He is going to shine through you – accomplishing great and mighty things beyond your wildest imagination!

 

Finding Your Push

Don’t you hate when you find yourself daydreaming about enjoying a face full of fresh foods or getting a good sweat in at the gym only to jar yourself back to a frustrating reality knowing you’d surely enjoy all of that if you could just convince yourself to actually get up and do it?

Been there.  Totally been there.

We all need a good swift kick in the pants from time to time; maybe even a good friend willing to give us that straight talk to get our head back in the game.  You’re not alone and having to wrestle through that DOES NOT mean you’re weak or any less capable of walking in victory than the most bull-doggish people you know.  Maybe you just have to find your way and here are a few points that can help you do just that.

Keep It Simple but Intentional

While some people have no problem whatsoever grabbing that big ole bull by the horns, others find a rapid shift to be totally unsustainable.  This is typically where we see the average American mom stuck in her health – she gets frustrated with where she’s at and puts her foot down, determined to do something about it.

Like a mad-woman, she dashes through the house with a massive black bag, pitching everything and anything to get temptation out of the house.  By 10:00a, she’s at the grocery store, re-stocking the pantry.  By noon, the her pics of the nose dive she did into the salad bar at Whole Foods are up on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  3pm – she’s a Sweaty Betty’s, leaving the gym.  4:30 pm – “I’m so crazy hungry!”  (House full of new foods)  “What on earth am I going to make?”  {“Healthier veggie chips” devoured}  Day 2 – repeat steps 3 and up.  Day 3 – She’s getting bored with it and that cheeseburger smells SO GOOD.  Day 4 – Still going strong but thinking about getting that head checked.  Day 5 – She says “forget it, I can’t take this anymore” {“healthy” Oreos devoured while taking a nice warm bath in nacho cheese sauce.}

Okay, so maybe that’s not your story but most of us can relate to the feeling of cycling through the excitement, frustration, elation and disappointment as we cycle through all the latest diet trends, hoping that this one will finally be the one.

I know the ads can be super-convincing but you don’t have to drop 8 pounds in 8 days, or 50 in 10 weeks, to be a real success story.  You just have to make it a point to take even simple but intentional steps toward your health and wellness goals.  Even on days you feel like you’re barely inching toward it, you’ll soon enough look at the huge divide between where are were and where you are with intense joy.

You cannot measure your successes and failures on the successes and failures of others and you have to learn to run at your own pace.  When you do, you’re going to quickly surpass your wildest expectations and walk in true triumph as you start to see all the progress you’ve made with no temptation to go back to the way things were.

Get a Solid Motivator

A major hurdle many women face in mustering up that moxie to get up and get moving is that they have their sights set on very faulty motivators.

While we may want to lose that weight once and for all, or find ourselves determined to get back in those old jeans, we really need something more substantial to give us the drive we need to be successful over the long haul.  Even those who can hold themselves to it until they hit that goal often find that maintaining the ground they’ve lost can be very difficult over the months and years to follow.

If we want to get healthy and stay healthy, it has to be about something more – something that really means something to us and those we hold so dear.

Weight and waistlines can be VERY poor measures of progress when it comes to your health.  You can drop 10 pounds in 10 days and maybe even feel better for the time while doing a lot of damage to the body.  On the flipside, you might feel like you’ve gained a few pounds over the last couple weeks since you started eating better (I know – total head-scratcher) but have no idea as to how much your body has done in that time to cleanse and heal the organs, or reverse chronic or underlying conditions.

I know it’s exciting to “see the results” but to get a better picture of your progress, you’ll have to look further than skin-deep – not only in measuring progress but also for the strength and motivation to keep going when the going gets crazy tough.

Look to the Hills

If you ever catch me in a workout and I’ve got that stern, gritting my teeth look on my face, with my eyes closed or staring intently up and forward, chances are, in my head, I’m repeating Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Now, some of you may find that silly but it’s a verse that helps me keep going when I’d otherwise be tempted to give up.  Adding empowering, encouraging personal, positive declarations can not only increase your enjoyment of the activity/effort in the moment, but can also be a great help as you seek to establish new, lifelong lifestyle habits.

Rather than looking to the pain or even to the clock, choose to look to “whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is noble…” Instead of complaining (even to yourself) about how much it aches, how about giving thanks to your God that you are able?  He has made your body capable of doing incredible things and will help you get there but you’ve got to press in and press forward.

Stop telling yourself about all the reasons you can’t do it and start speaking words of victory over yourself and your efforts (and more over those around you while you’re at it).

Whether you’re feeling weak, tired, or just straight not in the mood, look to God, look to His Word, think life, speak life and find your push to keep pressing forward.

 

Sick of being sick? I was too. Here’s what I did about it.

Sick of being stuck in a rut of crap eating and poor health?  I was too.  For too long, I’d believed the lie that sickness, disease, depression, obesity and lackluster living were all just part of the life I’d grow to live.  I thought it was just in our family’s DNA.  What a crock!

Something had to change.  I had to change.

Wielding little more than a sharp knife, a couple of delicious-looking recipes and a handful of scriptures, I dove into my first 11-week intensive health initiative.  Yes, I probably should have had my head examined.  Yes, I prayed my way through those last few 10 weeks and 5 days, wondering if I’d ever make it.  No, I’ve never been the same.  

While I could write a list probably a good 39.25 miles long on all the things I’ve learned on this journey, I shall refrain and simply offer these 5 key concepts that have helped to radically change my health and that can radically improve yours too.

1. Realized it wasn’t my doctor’s job

I know this is where I tend to step on a lot of toes.  (Before it has some of you coming after me, I am not telling you not to see your doctor.  It is your right and responsibility to seek out competent healthcare and team up with well educated health professionals to accomplish your health and wellness goals.)

What I am saying is that anybody who assumes that it’s their doctor’s job to fix them (not taking the initiative to invest in their own health), is going to have a very hard time ever achieving true wellness.

It’s in taking a proactive approach that you’re going to find yourself more empowered and better equipped to live your life to its fullest.  

That’s not someone else’s job.  That’s your job.

As well educated as any physician may be, if you refuse to do what you know you should be doing, i.e., eating right, exercising, and adopting healthy lifestyle choices, there really isn’t much of anything anybody can do for you.

When we take our health as our own, personal responsibility, we are better able to team up with the right health professionals in our effort to achieve real health and wellness without the use of (or with at least minimal use of) any sort of met medication/remedies whatsoever.

2. Changed my mind a time or ten.

I believe there is a GREAT deal to be said for reassessing old ways of thinking and, where needed, giving ourselves a mental overhaul.  When we really think about it, are we willing to pay the price of poor eating?  I think not.

I used to think like a lot of people.  I thought of certain foods as “treats” until I realized that a food that would do my body as much harm as conventional eats do, isn’t really “treating” myself anyway I want to be “treated.”  

Now, I enjoy taking great delight in foods that love me back while tasting absolutely scrumptious.

I could really go on here but you can fill in your own blank.  What are some things you’ve caught yourself thinking and/or saying that you know really doesn’t align with your current health goals or line up with the kind of life you want to live?

3. I got more of the good stuff.  

Like most people, when I decided to step it up in my health, I thought I had myself covered with a simple multivitamin but soon enough learned, they ARE NOT all created equal.

I started flooding my body with the highest quality nutrition I could, emphasizing prevention over medicine.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!

While I’m ever working to maximize my plate, I know that having something to help my family bridge the gap between the fruits and vegetables we should be eating and the ones we actually are is really helpful (let’s face it – 7-13 servings a day can sometimes get past the best of us).  

For a long time, I invested in high quality supplements boasting a broad range of vitamins and minerals.  As great as these were, I jumped off this wagon and got our family hooked up with JuicePlus+ to give my family an excellent added source of whole food nutrition.  (Mega awesome that we get it for our kids totally free.  Even more awesome that you could be getting it free for your kids too.)

In addition to JuicePlus+, we are ever working to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to every meal.  Organic isn’t always accessible or affordable but we do strive to buy organic and eat as clean as possible.

If in doubt, check the label.  Even better – focus on foods that don’t need a label.

4. Stop taking shortcuts

When was the last time you caught yourself racing to beat that other car to the spot closest to the door?

Come on… we’ve all done it.  Now, knock it off!  

Some days we’re in a REALLY big hurry and some days we’re in no hurry to get moving.  Wherever you’re at, I hope you’ll start making it a point to stop taking the easy route and look for opportunities to add movement into your day.

Yes, scheduling time to workout is great and something we should all be doing.

Still, whether you’re at the gym at 6am or not, you can and should be looking for every opportunity to challenge your body and get that blood flowing.  Don’t underestimate the benefits of taking a few extra stairs or walking a little further.

5. Made it my job to help others do the same.

You may think this one is not for you.  Maybe, maybe not.  But, don’t think that you have to start a blog or jump in to health coaching to be able to help others in achieving their health and wellness goals.  Teaming up with others is a great way to keep ourselves on point.  

You may think you’re in no shape to be helping someone else get healthy.  

I STRONGLY disagree.  

You may not be where you’d like to be but the life you live can be a great testimony to others, inspiring them to eat better and live better.   

Whether you’re just getting started or feel like you’ve been at it for eons, you really can make a huge difference in your own health and in the lives of those around you as you realize you totally can take the steps to a healthier more vibrant you!  

What steps are you taking today toward the you you want to be tomorrow?

 

7 Fitness Faux Pas & How to Flip the Switch

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and Founder of See Kids Thrive & Eden Life Ministries

Coasting Through Cardio

Some days it can be all too easy to let that brain just zone out and slip into neutral on a jog or in an aerobic exercise we’re doing for the umpteenth time.  To increase your fitness, you’ll need to venture out of that comfort zone at least a couple times a week to the point where you get winded and can feel that heart pounding.

Try adding some variation with HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training).  {*Be sure you’re cleared medically/physically here first.}. You don’t have to invest in any particular program to do this.  For example, after warming up 10 minutes on a treadmill, you can bump up the speed or incline for 30-60 seconds, then recover 1-3 minutes and repeat.  Keep alternating for 10-20 minutes, then cool down.  Over time, you can increase your intensity or the duration of your intervals.

Betrothing Your Strength Routine

If you do the same routine over and over, your muscles eventually just adapt and your results plateau, as each exercise only stimulates a limited number of muscle fibers.

Challenge your muscles from a variety of angles by adding or alternating moves periodically.  Try learning an additional 2-3 moves or machines.  Be sure you take advantage of trainers and resources to teach you how to do the moves correctly to prevent injury and achieve better results.  You want to expand your repertoire enough to change it out completely every 6-8 weeks.

Exercising Too Hard Too Often

If you don’t rest enough between cardio and strength workouts, your results will start to suffer.  This was a big one for me when I was about 18.  I thought I had to workout every day and felt like if I didn’t, I’d be right back to where I started and I was not about to let that happen.  The problem was, once I’d hit the wall, I fell out of routine pretty well altogether and it was years before I brought myself back around to it.

Lifting the Wrong Amount of Weight

Yes, there’s actually a science to achieving your desired results with strength training.  If you’re weights are too light, you get any stronger.  If the weights are too heavy, you’ll compromise proper form and increase the risk of injury.  Lifting too heavy actually cheats the target muscle group by forcing your body to recruit other muscle groups to compensate and complete the task.

In general, you want to use less weight and more reps to lean out and increase endurance; more weight and less reps to increase strength.

Increase the weight to boost bone density, muscle mass and tone.  For significant strength building, perform 4-6 reps per set at a way that challenges the muscle group sufficiently while still allowing you to complete the full move.  For more moderate strength building, decrease the weight but go to 8-12 reps per set.  You should be choosing weights that you struggle to lift through the final few reps but not so heavy that your form fails.  If you breezed through your final rep easily enough, try increasing your weights by 5-10% per set until you reach the weight that’s right for you.  You may find that as you increase the weight, you have to decrease the reps.  This is fine so long as the muscle is fatigued by the final rep.

Doing Reps Incorrectly

A quick way to sabotage your fitness plans are to do your reps incompletely, too quickly or with bad form.  Examples of this would be in doing push-ups where you don’t go all the way down but rather just kindly get about 30% motion on those elbows (incompletely),  or when you use the joints more like springs and just bounce from one rep to the next (too quickly), or when you have that butt way up in the air or slumping to the floor (bad form).  

Doing them incompletely, you don’t get the full range of motion in the move and consequently don’t work all the muscles you should be.  

Doing them too quickly robs you of results because you’re essentially using momentum, rather than strength, to complete the move.  You don’t build muscle this way.  You only cheat yourself.  

Doing them with bad form doesn’t get you results, it gets you achy and injured.  This will absolutely interfere with your fitness schedule when you’re forced to stay down for recovery.  You may get sick of hearing this from me but good form is key to good results!

Make sure you ready yourself in the proper starting position and slowly but intentionally complete the full rep.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Reap.

Using Energy Like You’re Out to Conserve It

Yeah, I caught myself doing this one enough earlier on to be sure to include it here.  When I was trying out a new routine (or knew what to expect with a more intense one I’d done before), I would find myself scaling back on the power I would bring to the moves like I was trying to save my energy to use later in the workout.  Yet, what I found was that it just led to less and less energy throughout as I was essentially telling my body to scale back and conserve.

I can’t tell you what a huge difference when I started telling myself “it’s not time to save energy, it’s time to make it!”  You’ll feel when it’s too much and that’s where it is totally okay to scale back but keep moving.  If you start cramping up or dizzy, yeah, you should probably sit down or walk it out for a minute.  What you don’t want to listen to is that voice that whines “I’m just too tired… I don’t wanna…”  That voice will suck the life out of your workout.  Stuff a sock in it and step to the plate.

If you want results, you’ve gotta bring it.

Putting Fitness in a Box

We often think that a workout has to consist of a fitness film rolling on the living room tellie or coaches slinging sweat over us as they assure us that “we can do this!!!”  Some of us love all of this and some of us hate it enough to pass on it all together.  

While these are all good and I do use them, I also don’t want you to underestimate the fitness potential found in other activities.  Some friends think I’m nuts as they watch me scramble up the oak in my backyard and I certainly get my fair share of looks as a hurl bags of mulch into my car, work my landscaping or haul the heavies.  

How about the other day when I determined to get our garage cleared out and rearranged.  Oh how my husband wished he could have seen and recorded my getting that 8ft artificial Christmas tree up into the attic.  Very large, very heavy box.  Very small opening.  The struggle was real, honey, the struggle was real!  So, no, I didn’t get in a typical workout but, no doubt about it, I worked!

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or monotonous.  Hit the trail or ride some bikes with the family.  Grab a game of tennis with a friend or bring a volleyball to the family reunion.  

There are many ways to make fitness fun and exciting, embracing it as a joy, gift and blessing that you’re able to bust those moves when so many just can’t.

Sources:

http://www.shape.com/weight-loss/tips-plans/10-fitness-faux-pas