Oh My! The Stress is Real!

Hello Healthy followers! It’s been quite awhile since I posted here, but with good reason: I moved to a beautiful new home here on my island paradise in southeast NC! This decision came about very quickly a month ago, and these last weeks have been filled with a lot of activity, AND quite a bit of stress and insanity. Now that I’m settled, I wanted to jump on and share how I dealt with the non-stop uncertainty and stress, hoping that it can inspire you to use these methods when your life is a bit chaotic and out of order.

SO, just to touch briefly on the insanity of our move…oh my! The housing market is currently nuts in much of the country, and we happened upon a brand new build on my tiny island out of sheer boredom on a rainy, windy, March weekend. We jumped quickly, and followed up with 4 weeks of nonstop moving of closing dates at the last minute, rescheduling movers, installers, cleaners, over and over. I’m a bit of an over planner, so my house was packed 2 days after our offer was accepted, leaving me with no space to workout, little kitchen equipment, and surviving on salad and scrambled eggs as dates moved and moved again. Each day was filled with calls and emails about appraisers not showing up, finances being raked over to the finite detail, and paperwork not being filed. I found myself waking each morning, hopeful and happy, only to spend the day slowly getting dragged down the house buying rabbit hole, literally wanting to just go to bed at 5pm each night just to shut myself off from it. It was most certainly NOT like an episode of HGTV!

After the second rescheduling of our entire existence, I started to approach each day as my OWN health and wellness coach. I became very mindful and deliberate with my actions and RE-actions during the day. I couldn’t do my morning workout because of the boxes piled in my rooms, so I bundled up and headed out in the damp coldness to get some brisk miles in. I signed up for a pilates reformer sample class (and became obsessed with it), and pulled my bike out for a ride whenever the wind and rain subsided. At one point, I told my husband, “Don’t tell me about the changes or reschedules, just say GO when everything is fixed.” That, alone, solved a lot of my stress issues! There were days when it started to get to me, just sheer frustration, and I found myself instinctively deep breathing, without thought-and it felt so good! In the end, things worked out, we moved, got settled, and it’s wonderful. But when the stressors kick in, it’s s important to know HOW to react to them in a positive manner!

2020 and the pandemic really put the focus on our stressors and our stress levels. A recent Forbes article stated that 1 in 5 American’s experienced a physical reaction of stress when just thinking about the pandemic. The economy, unemployment, isolation, working and schooling from home, and health concerns were/are reasons for a significantly increased level of personal stress in the last year; Rightfully so, as these were very un-chartered waters, for all of us.

Daily stressors, however, the things we deal with in a “normal” existence, and how we deal with them starts with your mindset. There is no way to escape it – everyone has at least some type of stress in life. You might have mild, moderate, or extreme stress depending on a number of different situations. Stress comes from just about everywhere, including at home, relationships with significant others, family or friends, work, school, finances, and so much more, it’s, unfortunately, just a part of life. 

Not only is it normal to have stress, it is also normal to struggle with your mindset and have it impact your stress levels. Here are some things to know about how your mindset might affect your stress, and what you can do about it.

~Try to move away from a negative mindset when the stress starts to build. Regardless of how much or how little stress you have, having a negative mindset is only going to make it worse. Your life tends to spiral a little when you have constant negative thoughts going through your head. This is why it often feels like it “keeps getting worse”.  Much of our stress is all about how we perceive things and react to things. Even at the most stressful moment, try to move yourself away from the moment for just a brief time. Call a friend, take a walk, pray, or meditate. Do something to make your self feel calmer, or at least supported.

~Try a breathing technique!  One of my favorites is the 4-7-8 technique. To do this, exhale completely through your mouth, releasing all air in a big WHOOSH! Then, breathe in slowly through the nose with a mental count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7, then release through the mouth with another WHOOSH to the count of 8. Repeat 4 times for maximum benefit, and hopefully, you will feel a sense of relaxation take over your body and mind.

~Exercise it out! If your stressor is out of your control, and you just need a release from it until you can deal better, consider a little exercise. Turn on some music and dance, go for a quick jog, throw some boxing punches into the air, do some karate kicks, or just go for a walk. This type of action will release you muscles and you mind for a bit, and help you re-evaluate your reaction with a clearer mind.

~Try a simple meditation. Sit in a relaxing position, scan your body for tension, notice your feelings and thoughts, and then try to release them as you breathe deeply. Focus on each breath, as you inhale in, say mentally, “ I am…” as you exhale, “at peace.” Place focus on this mantra, and breathing, until you feel calmer.

~Perhaps some simple yoga is more your style of stress relief. Poses that help relieve stress are very basic and easy to do. Child pose, cat and cow, and corpse pose with focused breathing can help relieve stress and tension throughout the entire body.

~If you’re not big on exercise, yoga, or mediation, focus your efforts and mind on an activity that is repetitive and joyful. Gardening, cleaning, knitting, journaling, or even sleeping are activities that can help you relax while removing yourself from the stress you may feel.

Of course, there are some instances where a little stress can be a good thing, but again this all depends on your mindset. If you look at stress as just a challenge or a sign that you need to switch something up in your life, it can actually motivate you to grow and change and get better. Stress in our lives can be a great teacher for things that need to be attended to, changed, or removed completely. Listen to your body, tune into to what is causing your stress, and when your mind and body are calmer, consider how those things might be better dealt with to avoid the same stress in the future.

If you’re looking for someone to help you manage your stress, learn meditation techniques, or help with journaling inspirations to change your life, contact me! We can put together a plan and package to suit your specific needs!

Clean Eating Tips for the Super Busy Lifestyle

As warmer weather approaches, we seem to get busier and busier! As this time of year approaches, with warmer days and more sun, it’s likely that many of us are spending time thinking about healthy eating, but finding that our busy lives make doing that very difficult.  Although we may have the best intentions for ourselves, we find that our busy schedules have us grabbing quick meals and snacks at the last minute, and not always making the best choices. While you may think you are saving time and being more efficient by grabbing a burger and breezing through your busy, warm, fun filled day, or even filling up on energy drinks or coffee when you start to feel tired, these actions can be very counterproductive to our health goals.

For many, this might seem like the easiest and least stressful way to power through the day, but in reality, a poor diet causes you to feel tired and lose energy during the day, which has a direct impact on the amount of work you get done, and the amount of fun you can have.  This “easy” lifestyle also contributes to a number of more serious health problems such as chronic disease and weight gain.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to turn your diet around and start eating healthy, even when you are super busy.  In this article I share 10 of the top tips for eating healthy when time is extremely limited.

Plan Ahead

The popular saying is; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and when it comes to healthy eating this is absolutely right.  If you don’t put together some sort of plan to eat healthy then you are going to end up eating those unhealthy junk and fast foods.  The best way to plan ahead is to list down the foods you plan to eat at the end of each day and then prepare what you can the night before, or, take an hour or so once a week to plan out and prepare for an entire week!  You may think that you simply don’t have the time for this kind of planning each week, but my clients that have done this now find that not only are they eating healthier, but also dealing with less stress, AND saving money! A little bit of planning and prep time literally turns healthy eating into a grab and go process!

Don’t Grocery Shop When You Are Hungry

As you work on your healthy eating plan you’ll need to start buying healthy foods when you do your weekly grocery run, and keep your fridge and pantry full.  Avoid grocery shopping when you are hungry! This makes this task a lot more difficult as your hunger will naturally draw you towards convenient junk foods.  Therefore, make sure you have something to eat before you do your weekly grocery shopping. Plan your grocery trips around the perimeter of the store-sticking to produce, proteins, and dairy as much as you can.

Take Full Advantage of Fresh Selections

If your find that you often head over to the vending machine or local convenience store to grab a quick snack, try to focus your selections on healthier options. Many of our corner stores, and even vending machines, now offer apples, grapes, carrot sticks, hummus, and bananas. These options can be just as filling as chocolate bars, or chips, and they provide much more nutritional value and contain a lot less calories, salt, and preservatives. To make things even easier, make sure you pack a few pieces of fruit or veggies into your bag each day and then when hunger calls you have them readily available.

Those Awesome Packets of Nuts

Nuts are another fantastic, healthy, food that you can use as a substitute for vending machine snacks.  They provide your body with a ton of health boosting vitamins and minerals along with good amounts of protein and healthy fats.  To avoid the temptation of unhealthy snacks make sure you always carry a bag with you so that you can quickly grab a handful whenever your stomach starts to rumble. Many nut companies sell portable 100 calories packs of almonds, cashews, and walnuts to make this an easy go-to snack.

Incorporate Vegetables into Every Meal

This may sound like too much of an effort when your time is limited.  However, if you choose the right vegetables it hardly takes up any of your time at all.  Salads, soy beans, and sun dried tomatoes can now all be purchased from supermarkets in a ready to eat form. Bag up sliced carrots, celery, and peppers and keep them handy and ready to munch.  Prepping steamed veggies and keeping them in the fridge is also a great idea, simply heat for a few seconds in the microwave and eat.

Look for Lean Fish & Meats

When you are busy and have forgotten to bring your healthy packed lunch, grabbing a quick burger or hot dog might seem like the best option.  However, there are plenty of healthier meat choices out there.  Most hot deli counters allow you to buy roasted chicken which is both tasty and nutritious.  Most supermarkets also sell cooked chicken breast slices.  Lean meats are just as quick to eat as burgers and hot dogs but provide your body with higher quality protein and no nasty added ingredients.

Get A Thermos Cup

One bad habit I have noticed among super busy people is that they regularly buy branded coffees.  This doesn’t seem like such a bad habit on the surface but when you consider that six of the drinks on the current Starbucks menu exceed the 300 calorie mark, it’s a habit that can easily add over 1,000 empty calories to your week-not to mention-they are pricey! Instead of hitting the coffee shops every day, get yourself a thermos or heated coffee cup and fill it with coffee or tea.  Both these options will give you easy access to your favorite hot drink without adding hundreds or thousands of calories to your week.

Use Smoothies

Smoothies are an excellent way to fit multiple fruits and vegetables into one convenient drink and the best part is they take just a few minutes to prepare.  To make a smoothie, just pick the fruits and vegetables you plan to use, chop into chunks, place them in your blender, add a few other optional ingredients if you like (crushed ice, fruit juice, protein powder, milk etc), blend until the mixture becomes smooth. If you are really stuck for ideas, Google will help you find some great smoothie recipes.

Use Your Freezer In The Right Way

Your freezer is a very valuable tool if you want to eat healthy and save time.  If you know you are going to be having a particularly busy week, consider cooking up a large batch of healthy food at the start of the week, divide it into individual servings and freeze these servings.  Then on the days where you don’t have time to cook simply get these frozen servings out of the freezer the night before and warm them up when you are ready to eat.  Doing this will allow you to enjoy healthy, nutritious meals without having to cook every night. It’s all about being prepared!

Choose the Lesser Of Two Evils

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, events will conspire against you and you won’t be able to eat healthy.  You’ll accidentally leave your healthy lunch at home, the local shop near your work will have no fruits or vegetables left and your only choice is to head to a fast food outlet.  In these situations, simply choose the lesser of the two evils.  Take a look at the amount of salt, the calories and the amount of trans fats in each option on the menu and then choose the least damaging.  This isn’t exactly healthy but it’s making the most of a bad situation.

And to Sum it Up

Sticking to a healthy diet is tough at the best of times but when you are busy and stressed it can sometimes seem impossible.  I hope the tips I’ve shared have shown you that eating healthy when you are super busy is not only possible but it’s also very manageable if you approach it with a positive attitude and a sense of planning. As you make small healthy changes to your diet, you will soon realize that you are not only feeling better and having more energy throughout the day, but the planning and prepping actually remove a lot of the stress from our daily lives.

And THIS

If you are looking for a 3 week program that will “reset” your eating habits, help you drop a few pounds, and feel your best for spring, consider my upcoming awesome Fresh and Simple program! This program offers both regular and vegetarian meal plans, with 40 new recipes based on whole, healthy foods, and weekly habit enhancing tips to change your health and life! This program includes two 30 minute virtual meetings with me to set your goals, answer your questions, and keep you inspired-with email support in between. Get ready to feel your best, embrace Spring, and get a little taste of what it’s like to work with a health and wellness coach! This package will be offered for a limited time for only 97$. If you’d like to reserve your space at this price, or have any questions, be sure to email me!

The Sticky on Sugar

One of the biggest questions I hear when it comes to nutrition advice is about sugar. In recent decades, sugar, in some form, has shown up in just about every product, often listed as something other than “sugar”, and that has caused a lot of confusion even for the most trained food label readers. In truth, added sugars account for 17% of the daily calorie intake in the average American adult diet-and almost as much in the average child’s diet (14%).

You’ve likely heard all about the dangers of refined sugar. It increases the risks of chronic disease, increases the chance of weight gain, and affects insulin levels and hormones. Sugar consumption affects the skin, causing both acne and even a reduction of collagen, which leads to wrinkles and sagging. Sugar intake can increase energy for brief amounts of time, but this only leads to a crash in blood sugar and leads to even more periods of low energy. Sugar creates inflammation in the body that leads to pain and damage to the cells.  In totality, sugar has the ability to badly affect all of the organs of the body, leading to general all over poor health. Sugar also has absolutely no nutritional value, but has 16 calories a teaspoon.

Removing added sugar from our diets is not the easiest thing to do, unless you decide to eat a completely and entirely whole food diet. If that’s not something you wish to take on, but wish to cut as much sugar as possible in your current diet, consider the following suggestions:

*Be a label reader, and know your sugar words. These include words that end with “ose” like, fructose, maltose, lactose, and dextrose. Another huge culprit that has entered our food production is high fructose corn syrup, which is a chemically enhanced version of sugar that has caused quite the negative conversations within the nutrition community because this form may have even worse affects on the body than pure sugar.

 *Try to eat as many whole foods as possible, and limit your packaged and processed foods greatly. To accomplish this, try planning your meals by focusing only by what is on the perimeter of your market-produce, meats, seafood, and dairy. Choose whole grain breads and cereals without added sugar, and if you buy canned foods, check the label for sugars.

*Limit your condiments!! Most of these products are full of sugar!

*Removing sugar from the diet can be a daunting experience, but well worth it. Start small! Set your first goal to something you can easily achieve, like giving up sugary drinks like sodas and sweetened juices. After accomplishing that, try removing sugar from another aspect of your diet, perhaps removing sweets, or using a healthy substitute like Swerve when baking. Make small changes as you progress to easily remove sugar from your diet.

Removing Sugar!

As you remove sugar from your diet, and replace those foods with whole, fresh foods, you will experience many benefits:

*Enhanced Energy Levels

Refined sugar enters your bloodstream almost instantly which causes your energy levels quickly surge and crash. When you start to eat less refined sugar, these fluctuations in energy levels will become a thing of the past and you’ll find that you generally have much more energy throughout the day. Not only does this help you feel great but it also makes you much more productive and allows you to perform all your daily tasks effectively.

*Younger Looking Skin

One of the biggest negatives of consuming refined sugar is that it damages your skin in numerous ways.

First, it causes the collagen and elastin in your skin to become inflamed. These structural proteins help your skin stay firm and youthful looking. When they constantly become inflamed as a result of regularly eating large amounts of refined sugar, they become less effective which causes your skin to sag and wrinkles to form.

Second, the inflammation caused by eating sugar has been shown to aggravate various skin disorders including acne (a disorder characterized by red pimples on the skin) and rosacea (a skin disorder characterized by burning and redness).

When you stop eating refined sugar, you’ll also stop damaging your skin in the ways described above and you’ll find that it looks much smoother, more vibrant and youthful.

*Easier Weight Loss

Sugars passes through the digestive system very quickly and because of this, foods that contain high levels of sugar aren’t as satiating as foods that contain minimal amounts of sugar. This means it’s much easier to overeat and consume large amounts of calories that lead to weight gain when you’re eating lots of refined sugar.

Quitting sugar will mean that you’ll feel much fuller every time you eat and naturally eat less food. Food cravings will come less often and because you’re consuming fewer calories, it will be much easier to lose weight.

*Better Sleep

The energy surges and crashed caused by eating lots of refined sugar are very disruptive to your sleep patterns. They make it difficult to sleep and have a negative impact on your sleep quality when you do manage to fall asleep.

Cutting sugar out of your diet stops it wreaking havoc on your sleep cycles and allows you to enjoy restful, better quality sleep.

*Stronger Immunity

Numerous studies have shown that refined sugar is a huge contributor to chronic disease. It causes inflammation in the body, damages your blood vessels and has a negative impact on your vital organs which leaves you open to a wide range of ailments, illness and diseases.

Reducing your intake of refined sugar stops it damaging your body in this way and allows it to heal. Not only does this make you less susceptible to ailments that are directly caused by refined sugar but it also boosts your overall immunity.

Replacing the Sweet

If you’re looking for ways to keep your sweet tooth, but eliminate sugar, try one of these healthy sugar substitutes! If you’re tracking your calorie intake, be sure to check the calories before using these.

Stevia

Stevia is one of the most popular natural sweeteners. This herb, which comes from South America, is 300 times sweeter than refined sugar. It contains zero calories, so is a great choice if you’re trying to lose weight. Plus, it has no glycemic impact, so it’s a perfect refined sugar alternative if you’re diabetic. Stevia is also very easy to digest which means you won’t suffer from any of the digestive problems that are often associated with sugar substitutes.

*Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is created through the heating the sap from coconut palms. Unlike refined sugar, coconut sugar doesn’t de-stabilize your energy levels, so is ideal if you want to stay productive and focused during the day. Like stevia, it’s also a great choice if you suffer from diabetes because it won’t disrupt your blood sugar levels. Another great thing about coconut sugar is that it supplies your body with nutrients as it sweetens and is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. 10 calories a teaspoon.

*Date Sugar

Date sugar is made by grinding down dehydrated dates into sugar sized granules. As you’d expect from the production process, it has the same rich and sweet flavor of fresh dates, and shares all their health benefits. These health benefits include promoting healthy digestion, strengthening your heart and lowering your blood pressure. The main negative of date sugar is that it doesn’t melt or dissolve easily, so it’s not a good choice if you want to sweeten your drinks. 15 calories a teaspoon

*Honey

Honey is sweeter than refined sugar and has a much greater range of health benefits. It contains high levels of vitamins and minerals which support many vital processes within the body. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, so is a perfect sweetener for boosting your immunity. Unlike refined sugar, honey is also great for your skin and can help make it brighter, smoother and more radiant. It tastes great in tea and can also be used as a replacement for sugar in many recipes. 21 calories a teaspoon

*Maple Syrup

Maple syrup contains around half the calories of refined sugar and is a much more nutritious choice. It’s loaded with antioxidants which protect your body’s cells from damage and reduce the visible signs of aging. Maple syrup is also a brilliant source of the manganese and zinc which boost your metabolism and your immune system. In addition to this, it’s great for your skin and can protect against skin blemishes, dry skin and redness. Finally, maple syrup has been shown to protect against a range of chronic ailments and diseases including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and heart disease. Make sure your maple syrup is pure, with no added sugars! 17 calories a teaspoon

If you have questions about your sugar intake, or how to remove sugar from your diet by setting small attainable goals, feel free to contact me

Let’s Drop a Little Stress

If you are on a mission to reduce your stress levels (and hey, who isn’t these days) it doesn’t require you changing your entire life.  As a health and wellness coach, the biggest issue I currently see with my clients is stress. While someone may contact me looking to drop weight, get control of their meal planning, or gain control of their hormones, conversation ultimately turns to how the stress in their daily lives is the key factor behind all of these needs. Meals are not prepped or planned because of work and family schedules, balanced nutrition is easily ignored for quick take out, and weight, exercise and health ends up taking a hit because of it. It all seems to start with stress!

 I’m a big believer in creating small steps that lead to a progression of steady achievable successes that ultimately bring my clients to reaching big goals, so, I’ve spent some time coming up with some small changes you can take each day that lead up to a reduction in stress, worry, and anxiety.  My hope is that you find that by including some of these steps into your daily life, you’ll experience many other benefits like thinking in a more positive manner or becoming a more mindful and peaceful person going forward.

A Little Guided Imagery

One of my favorite ways to manage stress is by using a really simple meditation technique called guided imagery. This is simple to do and gets you used to meditation without having to put too much pressure on yourself. Plus, it is a wonderful way to be more optimistic and visualize your hopes and dreams. This technique is really helpful when you find yourself feeling very overwhelmed with the amount of stress you are dealing with, and the many things that are causing it. It helps us gain our breathe, calm our anxiety, and clear our heads so that we can approach our stressors with a more objective and positive view.

To use guided imagery, simply close your eyes, find your breath with slow, deep, intentional inhales and exhales, and imagine a scenario that puts you into a peaceful, calming environment. You might be at your favorite beach, laying in the sand under a palm tree, or walking through a thick forest enjoying the peaceful surroundings, or simply sitting in your home garden smelling the flowers. Take your imagination to that place, as clear and detailed as possible, and let yourself relax and release in the calm of your imagination.

The great thing about guided imagery is that it is easy to do, only takes a few minutes a day, and it can be done anywhere, in almost every situation (not while driving, of course!).

Have Healthy Daily Habits

Another daily change you can make to reduce your stress is to better develop your healthy habits. For many, current, negative, habits could be making stress worse, while for other’s, tweaking just a few habits could make a huge difference in stress levels. Start thinking about your physical health and emotional health as one whole health, and find healthy daily habits that are sustainable for you. You will notice that the result is a lower amount of stress.

Some healthy daily habits to consider are:

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. What you put into your body makes a big difference in how you feel, not just physically, but mentally as well. You can nourish your body and mind by eating a healthy diet. Focus on eating whole foods that include lean proteins like chicken and fish, healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil, fresh greens like kale and broccoli, fresh or frozen veggies like carrots and green beans, and an entire array of fruits. Be sure to drink lots of water, and watch your intake of sugar.

Getting regular exercise. Exercise is wonderful for relieving stress, and is a healthy habit everyone should make a daily habit. It doesn’t have to be hitting the gym or spending hours working out. Walking every day, going on a hike, yoga, riding a bike, or dancing in your living room all count as daily exercise.

Avoiding unhealthy habits. There are also some unhealthy habits that might be making your stress worse. For example, if you drink large amounts of alcohol or participate in recreational drugs, you may experience a sense of relief from your stress in the short-term, but in the long-term, will actually be making it much worse. Excessive amounts of caffeine can also make your stress worse.

Making sleep a priority. Everyone needs sleep, so don’t feel like getting little sleep is doing you any good. You need high quality sleep, no matter how busy your schedule is. Don’t make light of only needing to sleep a couple hours a day, because this is NOT normal OR healthy for you. Make sure you set your sleeping area up for success by lowering the temperature, having comfortable bedding, and removing blue lights and electronics. Trying to set a regular schedule of bedtime and waking time that works for you, but allows you sufficient time for rest.

Getting rest every day. Just like sleep, you also need rest every day. If you have a busy schedule, then make an appointment for rest and self-care if you have to. This is a priority to reducing stress! If you are a super busy personality type, start small, and add to this down time as you get more comfortable with resting.

Focusing on mindfulness. Mindfulness is regularly recommended for stress because it helps you live in the moment, and have a better understanding of your thoughts and worries. Practicing mindfulness every day, such as during your self-care routine, is a healthy habit you can start doing now. Be mindful of your daily routines, taste your food, admire your surroundings, enjoy the people you are with, and recognize the moments as they exist.

Use a Stress Journal

Stress and worry journals are amazing for reducing your stress. Keeping track of your moods, emotions, and stressors can provide many benefits for you, including monitoring your stress peaks, understanding more about what is causing your stress, and keeping track of any stress-relief methods you may try, and how they work out for you. Because stress can create many issues in our lives such as headaches, digestive issues, increased anxiety, problems sleeping, and work productivity issues. Tracking all of these things along with the methods you use to reduce stress can help you see patterns in what does and doesn’t work for you, or what you may need to work on.

Avoid Unnecessary Stress

Take an honest look at the sources of stress that are completely unnecessary and optional, even when it doesn’t feel that way. If you are already dealing with a lot of stress in your life, the last thing you need to do is encourage more of it.

To avoid unnecessary stress, start by learning how to say “no” to people. This is a BIG one, and a completely and freeing move-be bold, make “no” a complete sentence, and just do it! Make priorities based on your needs and abilities, and manage your time to balance the stress in your life. You will thank yourself!

You may also want to look at your current sources of known stress and make a list of things that you can do to relieve it. Delegating responsibilities, outsourcing to others, or just asking for assistance can reduce a lot of stress from many of the big activities in our lives.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to evaluate how stress may be affecting your life, and use some of these ideas to reduce it, remove it, and move beyond it. As always, if you are looking for personal guidance in your health journey, including dealing with stress and exploring mindfulness, contact me and let’s talk about starting your journey. Find peace and health:)

from my business site BeeWell.com

A Healthy Balanced Gut is the Key to Great Health! (or) My 5 Day Health Fast

From my business site BeeWell.com

One of the biggest health issues affecting American’s is having and unhealthy and unbalanced gut. This issue, and my journey to solve it, it partially what led me into health coaching. So, in this blog post, I invite you into a bit of my story.

In early 2016, right before I turned 50, I began to experience crazy health issues. I woke one morning to rash covering my face, neck and arms, and had no idea what caused it. The months that followed became increasingly worse with giant hives appearing over most of my body, joints aching for no reason, and waves of deep fatigue. I did elimination diets over and over, finding that many foods made it worse-gluten, artificial sweeteners, and added colors and flavors. I began to cut foods from my diet, while visiting doctors to help me find a solution.

Doctors were puzzled. They Googled my symptoms, and wrote me dozens of prescriptions for steroids, antibiotics, and creams. All of my symptoms got worse. I demanded allergy tests, and was denied for months. Finally, after almost a year, I took the tests, and my only allergies were fragrance and shellac-not a single food allergy! My symptoms continued to get worse, and absolutely no doctor could find a reason or a solution. I switched doctors several times, and even joined a very pricey integrative health program to get more focused and personal attention. I was extremely upset, unable to be in the sun, unable to workout or be outside because sweat made it worse, and because I was completely covered in rash and huge red welts, I stopped seeing friends or going out into public situations.  At one point, I was given a prescription to stop the itching, and it only gave me hallucinations and made me hysterical for 3 hours. I gave up on medical doctors at that point, and started my intense research into finding the answer.

I spent a total of 4 years dealing with this. It affected every single aspect of my life, and consumed most of my free time. I Googled, read medical journals, took supplements, eliminated most foods from my diet, read every single food label, wrote down every bite of food-it was exhausting. Some days, I thought things were getting better, and that I had finally found the answer, but within a few days, my symptoms were back with a vengeance. Finally, in 2018, I did a diet reset program with a few friends to drop a few pounds, and for 3 weeks, my issues subsided. Once again, I looked to food intolerances to see what exactly the trigger was, and cut out more foods. The symptoms returned however, even worse. I was now experiencing severe brain fog, so bad that it made me feel dizzy, weak, and unbalanced. I walked into walls, tripped over my own feet, and could not focus on anything that I did.

In the fall of 2019, a lot of “crazy” entered my life-my new beach house flooded after a plumber forgot to hook up my washer correctly…the restoration process had my walls and ceilings ripped out, and on Thanksgiving, I had a squirrel enter my house thru a broken dryer hose and drop in to antagonize me and my dog (I cannot make this stuff up, I promise you!!) I dealt with all of this by spending time on my sunny deck, drinking the wine given to me by contractors and friends, as my house was slowly put back into order. My health took a huge dive, and my life became absolutely unbearable. I was completely covered in huge red, itching welts, ran fevers, had chills, ached all over, and could not sleep due to the pain and itching. I spent hours searching the internet for answers, in tears, feeling as though I just could not take another minute of this issue. I saw an acupuncturist 3 times a week, took handfuls of supplements and allergy meds, and was down to only 7 foods that I felt were safe to eat. Nothing helped.

Finally, as I reached the end of hope, I stumbled across an article about fasting to heal “leaky gut”. I spoke to my doctor, and was told that “leaky gut” was not real. She suggested more steroids. I declined, and returned to my research from a “wellness” perspective, not a “medical” perspective. After several days of taking many notes, and placing many orders on Amazon, I had a plan in place. I journeyed back into total seclusion at our beach house in early February 2020, and spent three very long, very cold and rainy days, on a VERY strict fast that consisted of only homemade bone broth, water, and mega-doses of gut healing supplements. My issues got worst as I fasted, but I continued on, desperate for relief.

I completed my fast after 78 hours, and woke up the next morning with almost no hives. I noticed that my joint aches had subsided, and I felt healthier and clearer headed than I had in years.  I ended my fast with steamed veggies and chicken, cut back on my supplements, and continued with lots of water. 2 days later, I had no symptoms at all. Not a single hive, no rashes, no eczema, no fatigue, no flu-like symptoms, no brain fog…I felt like a new person!

I continued my diet of veggies, clean protein, and water for 2 weeks, while tapering off my high doses of gut healing supplements. I experienced NO symptoms. I had hope again! I was feeling fabulous, but also very worried that it was gong to come back as I began to add new foods. As days and weeks passed, I added fruits, dairy, and even some gluten free grains to my daily diet with success. As pandemic began to cross the country, and lockdowns started to send everyone into their homes, I ate my first gluten in 4 years, and even enjoyed a glass of wine with NO reactions.

As 2020 reared it’s incredibly ugly head, sending almost everyone into a state of isolation, panic, and confusion, I found myself sitting on a sunny deck, smelling the salt water from the ocean 2 blocks away, feeling as though I had conquered my world. I enjoyed ALL the foods, was able to take long sweaty beach walks without reactions, and felt better than I had in years. It was then that I decided to take my nutrition and wellness degree to the next level and become a certified health coach.

I did not have another reaction. I spent 2020 feeling fabulous, completeting my certification classes and exams, listening to other’s complain about being isolated, and thinking about how I’d already spent 4 years completely isolated from life. I had cured my 4 year health crisis.

Fast forward to the last few weeks of 2020, and early 2021…I had been thinking I should do a “reset” fast as a gut “tune up”, but had not made plans to do so. A recent weeklong trip to my main house with my husband and youngest son led to me eating things I don’t normally eat when I’m alone at the beach house-mainly sugar. My son made it his job to bring home poundcake (4 times!!!), candy, cookies, and pizza, which we snacked on while watching football playoffs and waiting for the rain to subside. After 8 days, I returned to the beach, and almost couldn’t make it up the 2 flights of stairs. My joints ached, my head was clouded, and I was exhausted. I spent 3 days monitoring my health, feeling as though I had aged 30 years overnight. My face was puffy, I was dozing off several times a day, my sleep was terrible, my skin was pale and dry, and my eyes were sunken in and surrounded by black circles. My stomach was bloated, and my digestion was very off, and finally, I realized my brain fog was coming back hard. I decided it was time for a new fast!

I kept track of my thoughts during what is now 113 hours of fasting, and if you are interested, it is at the end of this blog. In the end, I am feeling like a completely different person. I feel fabulous, ageless, full of energy and good health.

But first, a few facts about fasting for gut health.

Our gut contains over 100 million nerve endings, and is considered to be another “brain” within the body, referred to as enteric nervous system (ENS). Bacteria in our gut works to keep the gut balanced and healthy, but this is easily affected by stress, foods, coffee, alcohol, medicines, and lifestyle. When the gut becomes unbalanced and unhealthy, the nerve endings send signals to our hormones and organs, and they become greatly affected. An unbalanced gut can lead to many, many issues including mood disorders and changes, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disorders, learning issues, brain fog, food intolerances and allergies, and skin issues like hives, eczema, and rashes.

Fasting gives the gut a chance to reset and heal itself. My fast included bone broth, which has many nutrients and healing properties for the gut, and coconut oil with MCT, which added healthy fats to my diet for healing and a feeling of satiety to keep me from feeling hungry. I also included several gut healing supplements like l-glutamine and turmeric. If you choose to fast, please speak to a health professional before doing so if you have any medical issues, and monitor your health closely while doing so. If you feel dizzy, ill, or have other odd reactions, please stop your fast and seek out information. If you’d like to discuss fasting, gut health, hormonal imbalances, or other health goals, please feel free to reach out to me to discuss your goals.

And now, my 5 day journey of fasting and getting my gut health and energy reset!

Day 1,  10am, feeling quite foggy headed and very tired, I decide that it’s time to do another bone broth fast. I ponder it for 2 hours, while fighting with my cloudy head to post a few graphics on IG. At noon, my dog and I jump into the jeep to go to the grocery store. I’ve decided on store bought bone broth for this fast, because I don’t like the smell when I make my own.

1pm  My exhausted and foggy head tries to put together my new phone tripod, while my stomach grumbles to be filled. I’m already 15 hours into this fast, and I want to go live on my Facebook group to hold myself accountable. I give up on the tripod, and open my laptop only to find that Facebook has changed everything about going live….I grab my phone, prop it up with a yoga block on my kitchen counter, and hit record. As soon as I finish my video, I grab a mug and drink down a cup of broth, not much liking the taste, but it’s in my belly, and I can move on with my day. I watch my live video and realize I look tired, pale, and aloof. I really hope this works.

3pm I’m feeling a bit more awake, I’ve hit my step goal, and done the laundry. It’s time to take in some more bone broth, but first, I take my l-glutamine supplement in a glass of warm water. This really fixes my gut, as proven several times before. I wait a bit, drink down another cup of broth, and take my dog for a quick walk to the beach, wishing the sun was out.

5:30pm  Feeling pretty good, my stomach is rumbling, so, time for more broth. I down a full bottle of water-my 4th today, and heat up my broth. I decide to put a tablespoon of coconut oil/MCT into my broth just to bulk up my calories with healthy fats, and satiate my hunger a bit. The coconut oil gets on my fingers, than onto my glasses-so I spend the next hour trying to get my glasses clean and end up with a banging headache.

8:30 pm still have a headache, but my energy is high. I down one more cup of broth with coconut oil, put on my pjs, and turn my bed into a big nest of pillows.  I’m ready to rest.

After some Netflix, still having a headache, I think I fell asleep around 9:45, and slept deeper than I have in months. Vivid but calm dreams, little waking. Huge success for this chronic insomniac!

Day 2 I woke at 6:30am, with NO pain in my joints at ALL. For the last 2 weeks I woke up and thought I had aged quickly overnight. My head was clear, and I felt great. I got in my daily morning 3K steps, had coffee with coconut oil, showered and headed out for a massage in the pouring rain.

My massage was just what I needed. My shoulders and neck were super tight. Halfway through the massage, I felt a light switching on in my head-like I just “woke up”, everything became super vivid and super clear-EVERYTHING. I left the massage feeling even better, ran a few errands, and headed back to the house.

I had no hunger pains, so I didn’t even think about broth, but had a giant bottle of Smart water to flush my body from released toxins from the deep tissue massage.

2pm, more bone broth , followed by a scoop of collagen powder for added protein, still feeling awesome…So awesome in fact, I march out 10K steps while finishing a movie

4pm, more bone broth. Did I mention??  DO NOT like bone broth. It makes me think of my mother’s burnt roast beef. I guzzle it-no sipping for me. More water as well. On to a nice walk with my dog at the beach-the rain has stopped, and the sun and  moon are showing themselves this early evening. It’s spectacular! Halfway through my walk, I realize-I feel like a new person. I run with Sadie for a bit, stop and smell the fresh sea air, and remark to myself that this was a fantastic decision. I feel incredible!

Back at the house at 6pm, my energy is now so SO high, I feel almost ADHD-like I can’t control all of the thoughts and energy, like I can’t sit still. I have now hit 21K steps with little effort. I have more bone broth and coconut oil, and hope that my energy level is met with clarity soon. It’s now been 44 hours.

I finish my evening with more broth, and an early bedtime. I’m hoping day 3 is better.

Day 3  I wake to another cold and very windy day. I feel pretty good, but realize I have some after affects from my massage, which is expected and normal.  I decide to spend the day in a mostly restful state, getting work done. I drink my broth, add coconut oil during the day, and still have no hunger pains. At this point, I start thinking about how I will end my fast, and what I will do after it to keep my gut healthy and balanced, and my body free of toxins. The day flew by quickly with no issues to remark on.  I end this day with a somewhat self-induced hypnosis to relax, and sleep for a solid 8 uninterrupted hours. This was definitely a much better day!

Day 4 I woke intending to end my fast. I made my grocery list and did the shopping, ran errands, had 2 meetings, and cleaned my entire house while dancing to some very loud Taylor Swift. My energy is super high, my focus is clear, and I’m super chill. I feel no hunger, I have no aches, my skin is clearer and brighter. I post a new video to my Facebook group, and friends remark how much better I appear to be.

At 4 pm I realize I have not ended my fast, and decide to take it to the next morning. A walk to the beach makes me realize that my mind is super clear-I see the beach daily-but today, I am overwhelmed at the beauty and the colors that seem so very bright and intense. I have an incredible sense of well being and calm. I have broth and coconut oil for the rest of the day, but on this night, I am hungry! My stomach is rumbling, and I really just want to CHEW on something. I do a relaxation meditation, and fall asleep rather quickly.

Day 5 OK! I wake up to more sun, and feel really fabulous. I have coffee with coconut oil, and sit in the sun for an hour just feeling it on my face. I can’t wait for spring.

I’m very calm, very content. I down a bottle of water and my supplements, and look in the mirror. My skin is super clear, my eyes are bright, and I have no dark circles. The scale shows a drop of 4 pounds, but that was not the reason for this fast. I have no stomach or digestive issues, no gas, no bloating, no indigestion, no inflammation or pain in my joints. My mind is clear and calm, and I feel well rested. This fast was a success! After 113 hours, I am now preparing to end my fast with a non-dairy smoothie, followed by several days of lean meats, non-starchy veggies, and berries.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you think you are experience gut issues, hormonal imbalances, or have other goals for your health, diet, or well being. I’d love to discuss a plan for you to get back to optimal health and happiness. If you’d like to be a part of my health centered, fun, Facebook group, please drop me a note.

A Few Non-Food Tips for Losing Weight

It’s brand new year, and a lot of us are thinking about making some changes for the better. Many of us spent the last year binging Netflix, wearing comfy sweats, and perhaps munching a bit too much on our favorite comfort foods, and why not? After all, we spent a ton of time at home, rarely had to be at anything social, and well….2020. So, now that we are looking at a brand new year, and hopefully a little bit more normalcy in our lives soon, it’s only natural to think about getting our diets cleaned up and hopefully drop a few of those pandemic pounds!

As we look to change our habits, keep in mind-it takes 21 days to FORM a habit, but usually around 60 days for it to become routine in our lives. Small steps, when done routinely, can add up to huge changes over a period of time, so-think of small attainable goals that will eventually add up to big goals. This will keep you focused and happy with your progress.

Today I’d like to give you some small steps to start now that will add up to those big changes that you want to see later. Pick one or two a week, or a month, and build them into habits, then into routine, as you slowly add in more. Several small goals add up to a much bigger picture in the end!

Find Your Why!

Just claiming that you want to drop 15 pounds/eat cleaner/work out is not enough to motivate you to do the things you need to do in order to accomplish that goal. The clearest way to get your motivation in gear is to declare your WHY. Why do you want to drop those pounds? Why do you want to eat cleaner? Why do you want to workout? What are the things you envision in your life when you DO accomplish these things? Take a few minutes and really think about what you will “gain” by hitting the goal you want to hit. Make a list of those things. Perhaps you want to wear certain clothes, or feel more youthful and fit, or maybe it’s because you want the energy to lay with your kids or grandkids. Maybe you want to walk your dog without being out of breath, or maybe you’re hoping to take up an activity this spring that needs you to be more in shape. Perhaps you want to get off of medications, or see your blood pressure drop to a normal level. Write these things down, envision your life as it will be at that point, and consider how you will feel about accomplishing that. That, my friend, is your WHY.

Focus on ADDING things, not SUBTRACTING things!

Often, when we make changes in our lives to be healthier, we find that we feel restricted, or that we are losing out on things. Change your mindset! Instead of saying “I can’t eat cookies”, say to yourself, “look at all these amazing fruits I get to eat from the local farmers market”. Instead of thinking, “I have to get up and exercise”, think, “Wow, I get to go for a long walk/jog and really enjoy feeling healthy in my soul!” or, “It feels so good to have a few minutes of quiet time to just enjoy how it feels to work my body.” In addition, ADD new foods to your diet, add new recipes! The addition of these things is far more important and lasting than subtracting things from your goals! Try looking at what you GET to do, instead of what you cannot do. Change your mindset.

Lose the Idea of Perfection!

This is a big one! How many times have you started a healthy eating plan only to give up on it after eating the “wrong” foods? This is, after all, why people are always “starting” diets. Think of it this way-instead of beating yourself up for not finishing a workout, praise yourself for trying. Instead of giving up on your healthy eating plan because you had a few cookies, congratulate yourself for only having a few. Again, it’s the mindset that changes your patterns. Attempting perfection only sets you up for failure, because, hey! Who’s perfect anyway? Nothing is ever going to be perfect, accept the imperfections and find the small accomplishments that have been made. Give yourself a break. It’s all part of the process!

Get some Sleep; Rest your Mind, Find Moments of Peace

Lack of quality sleep affects SO much of your health journey. Lack of sleep creates stress, and stress releases hormones that affect your metabolism negatively. Lack of sleep keeps your body from achieving recovery mode, which results in exhaustion, poor muscle strength, the possibility of making poor choices, and increased appetite. Make your sleep a priority-set bedtime and wake time routines, turn off electronics, reduce blue light time in the evening, cool the temperature of your bedroom, and make your bed a comfortable and peaceful place. To aid in proper sleep, but sure to get adequate sunlight into your life during the daytime hours, and try to not indulge in alcohol or heavy meals before bedtime.

Make You and Your Health a Priority SELF LOVE

Honor your body, honor your goals, and honor your meals. Practice honor in all aspects of your journey and the respect you give will pay you back. Nutrition is the best medicine you can give your body. What you put into your body is what you get in return. Show your body love in all that you do, and beyond that-show yourself LOVE. Spend time doing the things that bring you joy, take up a new hobby or rediscover something that you have long given up. By bringing yourself joy, you remove stress and create a whole new peace and calm in which to live. Meditate, practice gratitude, spend time focusing on your breath. Love yourself enough to put yourself first, and the rewards of good health with come to you.

Find New Ways to Measure Success

I hate when I see images of scales on posts about dieting or healthy eating! The scale is a truly poor measurement of diet success! There’s an image that gets passed around on the internet often depicting several women, all the same weight, each with a completely different body. Personally, when I gave up on the number I saw on the scale, I quickly realized that “volume” or “weight” simply did not give a full picture of my body. Look at it this way-a tall skinny 5 pound box weighs the same as a small circular sphere that weighs 5 pounds. They are completely different though! So many factors play into weight on a scale-muscle build, bone density, how much water you drank, whether you’ve used the restroom, even having long hair! Many people find that when they are in their ideal fit shape, their weight is actually HIGHER than the goal weight they hoped for. Learn to measure your success in other ways: how do your clothes fit? How do you look in the mirror? Are you feeling lighter? Is there a spring in your step? Are you getting through workouts without breathing as heavy? Are people remarking on your success? Learn to look at how you feel and what you see instead of those numbers on that scale!

Find a Fellow Motivator!

How about a bestie that encourages you to succeed? Someone you admire that cheers you on and adds positive motivation and support to your daily life? Surround yourself with the people who have the same goals as you, people that have accomplished those goals and live them every day. These are the people that will inspire you and excite you. Find your tribe of fellow goal seekers, fellow health seekers, and follow the journey together. You can, of course, also find yourself a Health and Wellness Coach that will guide you, motivate you, cheerlead you, and help you set those goals, break them down into small steps, and reach them. You know where to find me;)

Shared from my website BeeWell.com Now offering 20% off all Health and Wellness Packages with promo code HEALTH20

So, What Exactly is Health Coaching Anyway?

From my site BeeWell.com

This is a popular question that I hear all the time! Health Coaching is a relatively new field that many people have no knowledge of. It’s an amazing concept, and it fits right in to our current pandemic world because it can be done virtually in the safe comfort of your home. A health coach can be so helpful, in so many ways, and can literally change your life with some guidance, support, knowledge, and motivation.

Over the last few years, I’ve worked with many people that contacted me asking for advice, knowing that I had a degree in nutrition, and had taking many classes in wellness and mindfulness practices. After helping those people find the guidance and motivation they needed, they always encouraged me to take my knowledge and passion to the next level, and start my own business, which is exactly what I did-I became certified in my field, and absolutely love what I do! Helping people find the tools to help themselves is a blessing. 

So, what is Health Coaching? It can be many things, because it is uniquely tailored to the needs of each person. Health Coaching is about discovering the personal health goals of each individual, and putting the knowledge and steps into place to reach those goals. Its about personal attention, open conversation, and lot’s of motivation. It’s about discovering the things that often block us from our ultimate goal, and pushing those blocks out of the way. It’s also about dealing with our health from a proactive and holistic starting point to avoid, or reverse, issues that concern us.

Some health coaches specialize in specific fields, while others use their varied education and experience to help with a variety of goals and needs. My passion leads me to many areas of health coaching, and I’d like to share some of the successes I’ve helped people achieve.

“I’m so stressed out, I can’t make a decision, and my nerves are making me crazy!”  A huge life decision had this person unable to think clearly, and the anxiety of the “what ifs” was keeping them up at night and almost on the verge of tears for days. Big life choices are extremely stressful, and stress can make us physically sick, so the first thing we did was focus on some breathing exercises, followed by some guided journaling and mediation which soon led to calm clarity, and the choice soon became obvious. The ultimate choice ended up being the absolute best choice, and all the stress involved dissipated quickly.

“Everything I eat seems to go right through me, I’m unfocused, tired, and not sure what to do.” This is a common complaint that I hear, and more than often, it comes down to a food intolerance. This client, a young athlete, had been working with me to increase his speed and strength through nutrition, but wasn’t seeing results because of embarrassing stomach issues. When we got to the root of the problem, an elimination diet along with some serious nutritional education revealed that dairy was the culprit. 3 weeks later, this client reported a 15 pound drop in weight, razor sharp focus in school, better strength and workout intensity, deeper sleep, clearer skin, and the stomach issues were completely gone. Nutrition is now a focus in his life, and the physical and mental gains have been life changing.

“I had a baby, and I cannot drop the weight…and that baby is now 10!” Losing that baby weight is HARD. I’ve done it 4 times. It’s HARD! As a mom, you are so busy, so tired, and in a constant state of giving yourself to others, the struggle is REAL. I’ve guided many through this life changing part of life and provided the support and tools needed to drop the weight, gain control of daily schedules, and find a bit of time for some self-care and self love. Learning that it’s ok to take care of your self is the quickest way to getting all that chaos of motherhood to fall neatly into place.

“I’m putting the work in at the gym, wearing out my Fibit with steps, but not seeing the results I want.” The famous saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym” is very true! I’ve worked with athletes and gym rats that spent hours sweating in the gym only to see results slow down after a few months. Working with them to balance their macros to fit their goals, whether it is weight loss, muscle gain, speed, energy, or focus, correct nutrition is what helped them reach their goal.

Fifty sucks! My hormones are crazy, I can’t sleep, I crave sugar, I can’t lose weight, I can’t sleep, and I feel like I’m losing my mind!” Oh, those lovely hormone changes that greet us as we enter a new chapter of life..! I’ve been there my friend, and I did, indeed, think I was going to lose my mind. I found the keys though, and in a matter of weeks, I was feeling so much better! In a few months, I had forgotten that it ever happened. For me, it was done without hormone therapy or meds-completely through changes to my nutrition, my exercise, and my habits. This is a common issue, and I’ve shared this with lovely ladies that have managed to regain their sense of youth and feel happy and sane again! This chapter of life CAN be as awesome as you want it to be!

“We are living on fast food! Our schedules are so crazy, we are running nonstop, and we need to eat healthier, but life is so crazy!” This was a popular issue pre-Covid for most of my friends with busy families. Grabbing takeout was the easiest way to get everyone fed, even if it meant eating unhealthy and spending too much money-it got the job done, but in a less than desired manner. The solution was clear-MEAL PREP! I’m a bit of a meal prep queen-it got me through 22 years of homeschooling, working, four kids in soccer, football, basketball, art/dance/guitar/karate/co-op…etc! Meal prepping, when done right, not only provides quick, healthy, nutritious meals on the go, but saves you money, time, and sanity! I’d love to show you how this can be done!

“2020 has been unbearable to me. I’m anxious, angry, agitated, stressed and foggy headed.” It’s been a rough year, and, from the looks of it, it’s not ending anytime soon. I’ve worked with several people this year, giving them the tools to find calm in their lives, to gain perspective on making the best of their situation, and seek out the positives-no matter how small-in order to become more grateful and mindful during this seemingly never ending crisis. Helping them boost their immunity, find creative outlets, and focusing on meditative and mindfulness skills has led to them feeling empowered, less anxious, and even setting out to accomplish goals and hobbies they always dreamed about. I’ve enjoyed watching these special people make a complete 180 with their attitudes and spirits this year!

“My doctor said I can’t have (insert foods) while taking this medication.” Or, “my doctor said I need to change my diet for (reason) and I don’t know where to start.” Or, “My doctor said if I don’t change my lifestyle I could be at risk for (insert illness) Where do I begin?” These are red flag statements telling me that change is not only needed, but crucial. Navigating health and lifestyle changes when faced with possible serious future health issues is scary and daunting. As a health coach, I can work with your doctor’s orders to make them easy for you to understand, and help you make the many, usually small but important, changes to your nutrition and lifestyle that will ultimately make a huge difference.

“I’m dealing with crazy symptoms, but no diagnoses. Eczema, hives, fatigue, brain fog, food insensitivities …I don’t know what to do next.” This is my own story, and it was 4 years of no answers, many meds that made it worse, reactions to many foods with no positive allergy test. I was miserable, covered in burning hives, tired all the time, and doctors were no help-literally Googling my symptoms and having no answers. The problem is a common one, yet very ignored and often misdiagnosed. Other symptoms can include inflammation, bowel discomfort, headaches, joint pain, and weight gain or loss. Finding the solution to this took years of research, elimination diets, and supplements, but ultimately, when the answer was found, the problem completely went away-and stayed away. Nutrition and lifestyle was the absolute key, and my quality of life improved 100%.

So, as you can see, the answer to the question, “What is a Health Coach?” leads to many answers and situations. In short, as a health coach, I provide strategy, accountability and support to achieve goals and objectives to help people solve problems and live better, healthier, lives. I do this with personal attention and care, and with upmost concern for your well being and happiness. I am not a sales person, I do not push potions or products, and my only goal is helping you live your best life. I keep my fees low and manageable, and take great joy in seeing the changes that my clients make on their journey.

I’d love to help you on your journey, and if you are interested in discussing how we can best work together to reach your health goals, please feel free to reach out to me at sami@beewell.com  Let’s DO this!

PLAY BALL Win the Game with Food Focus

It’s been a long year of lockdowns and quarantine, and many of our favorite activities have been postponed or cancelled. BUT, sports are back, and if you are like me, that’s something to celebrate and enjoy. In my family, there’s almost always a sports program on the tv, and when the big games are on, it becomes a real party. Pizza shows up at the door, bags of snacks get piled onto the counters, and depending on the game, there’s usually some wine or beer. Some of our favorite family memories start out this way!

Watching televised sports has become one of our biggest pastimes, as well as a huge social event for many. Friends and families gather and build traditions around watching their favorite sports teams and EATING. This can lead to some huge challenges for those of us that aspire to live and eat healthy. The typical foods found at most sports parties, and even most stadium venues, are mostly high in fat and calories, and low in actual nutrients. The most popular “sports” foods, according to a quick Google search, are pizza, wings, nachos, chips, dessert foods, and of course, beer and soda. After taking into consideration that the average male needs about 2000 calories a day, and the average female needs about 1600, let’s take a look at what the “average” person might find themselves munching on as they cheer on their favorite teams for several hours each week:

  • 2 slices of pepperoni pizza
  • 6 wings
  • Nachos with cheese and toppings
  • Endless amounts various chips (but let’s say 2 servings)
  • 4 cookies
  • 2 beers (only 2!)
  • 2 sodas

Does that sound about right? Have you found yourself eating this way? I know this happens in my house!

This, my friend, is 2800 calories worth of food-with a whopping 100 grams of FAT. Add a loss by your favorite team, and you might find you had a really bad day!!

Fortunately, there are lots of easy and fun ways to combat this sort of pattern of “sports” eating. Offering healthier options, making it a point to get up and move during the game, and drinking more water can all help curb this crazy intake of calories and fat, and even add some fun to the day.

Sports can get pretty emotional, (I threw a vacuum cleaner down the steps after a bad playoff game once-and my dad broke the bathroom door off the hinges after a bad play when I was a kid…) Sports can also be mind numbingly tedious when nothing really happens inning and inning, quarter after quarter. The emotions, the boredom, the excitement, all lead to mindless eating. Have you ever finished off an entire bag or chips or cookies while engrossed in a tv show? All the sudden, the bag is empty, and you have little memory of even tasting it! This is a huge issue when watching sports. Recognize that, acknowledge it, and make that thought part of your watching plan. 

Some tips for making better choices during your sports and party viewing:

always have healthy options available. Veggie and fruit trays with hummus or lower fat dip are a great start.

choose mustard over mayo on your sandwich or hotdog, and consider skipping the cheese.

cheese or veggie pizza instead of pepperoni or fatty meats, and stick to one slice for a very healthy change.

use a smaller plate for your choices, eat slowly, and don’t eat out of giant bowls or packages.

make the decision to only eat at a certain point of the day perhaps at halftime, or during the 7 inning stretch.

instead of pizza, hotdogs or hamburgers, try some grilled kebabs with lean meats, veggies and fruits. 

if you choose to drink, set a limit to 2 drinks, and have a full glass of water before drinking each one. Alcohol and water intake should always be equal!

do a search for some healthy game day snack recipes (there are TONS) and try a new one out each week.

Now, to add some fun to your day! Let’s get up and move, and get everyone involved with fun and exercise!

make some bets with your family and friends, with crazy exercise as the consequence. Your team scores-they have to do pushups, their team scores-you have to do jumping jacks. This can be done with all aspect of the game, even down to ref calls and uniform choices!

get up and move during commercial breaks, long replay decisions, halftime and the 7th inning stretch. March around the house, step outside for some fresh air and take a quick walk around the yard, or even put on some music and dance for a few minutes.

have a themed “party game” available during game breaks-shoot hoops into a wastepaper basket, throw the ball around in the front yard, be creative and have some fun with it!

Above all, remember that this time is for having fun, relaxing with family and friends, and socializing. The food and drinks are just an added attraction to the day, and partaking in a huge feast of food is not a requirement or expectation. Focus on your family and friends, and your team, and have a great and healthy time!

From my website BeeWell.com

Healthy Holiday Habits

IMG_9628.pngThe Holidays are upon us, and with them comes parties, dinners, baking, busy schedules, and all the general “cheery” chaos that can knock our fitness and nutrition plans right out of whack. This year, instead of giving up, or giving in, and thinking, “Hey, I’ll start back after New Years…” Let’s make a solid plan for success!  After all, different studies have shown that the average person can gain 5-10 pounds during this festive season-and who want’s that???

*SCHEDULE and PLAN! Holidays get our routines out of whack, so your current routine may be completely impossible right now. Take a few minutes-right now-to look at how your schedule is going, and how you can better plan your exercise, water, and meals. Schedule those needed changes! Put it on your calendar or reminders!

*Be prepared for those big dinners and social events.

**Here’s a crazy fact:
The Calorie Control Council says you may consume up to 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat in total during any one of your holiday gatherings. While the majority of this comes from the meal itself, you can expect to eat nearly 1,500 calories in appetizers and drinks! Don’t find yourself in a situation where the food and environment send you into a nutritional spiral-have a plan of action!

*Don’t skip meals thinking it will help in your calorie intake; this can easily backfire and leave you starving and unable to control your appetite. Instead, focus on small meals and snacks of lean protein and fruits and veggies. Eating a small, healthy snack before your event can help you avoid overindulging.

*Many people ask their guests to “bring something” to a holiday event. Instead of baking a huge tray of grandmas famous butter cookies, or dumping some marshmallows into those healthy sweet potatoes and delivering it to the table, take something you can add that you KNOW can fill your belly without, well, “adding to your belly”
For me, this is a beautifully done platter of fresh cut veggies and fruit. I like to fill my belly with THAT, and then sample small amounts of the other foods-while making my protein the base of the meal. And a big glass of water before joining the table!

*Choose you splurges carefully. Look over the offered foods and plan your plate. Sample small amounts of your holiday favorites instead of filling up on foods you eat year round. Enjoy your splurge foods, eat slowly and taste them. Prepare yourself for “food pushers”! Food pushers are thse loving friends and family member that don’t take “No” for an answer. It may be your grandmother with her famous pie, or your best friend with a bottle or two of wine. I’ve seen lots of ways to “explain” the WHY behind saying “No thank you!” to the food pushers…cute ways to inform people that you are dieting-“no thank you, I’m allergic, if I eat that my thighs will break out…” or putting the responsibility on your doctor or nutritionist-“My doctor says I can’t have….” Personally, I find that just saying, “That looks truly delicious, but no thank you” works nicely Stand firm, and don’t feel the need to explain yourself. The last thing anyone wants to do at a gathering is spend time explaining your food choices, whether it be for diet reasons, allergies, or otherwise; not to mention, all of the opinions that will surely follow. *As always-enjoy the people and social aspect of your event. Have a few great conversation starters to keep your socializing active, and try to be social away from buffet and snack tables. And hav

* Exercise during the holidays can be super difficult. For some, the weather is nasty, there’s lots of travel, busy schedules, and guests. This can make sticking to an exercise schedule HARD!
Again, it’s all in the planning. Think “family fun” and schedule in some family activity: Ice skating, skiing, hikes, walks. Enjoy some social time while getting some movement. Consider wearing your exercise footwear while cleaning, cooking, shopping-and take small breaks to march-or even dance-for short bursts of calorie burn. If doing some crazy Black Friday shopping, take a few laps around the mall. If you find yourself traveling, walk the airport while waiting for flights. If driving, stop for small breaks and take a few laps around a gas station or convenience store parking lot.
 If you are staying in a hotel or with friends, ask about exercise equipment that might be available. Or, pack some resistance bands or your yoga mat to get a short workout in.

*Set up your current environment for success! If you are visiting family, or traveling, or just running around getting things done-make your surroundings successful. Keep a cooler of water and healthy snacks in your car, or in the room where you might be visiting. Throw your sneakers in the car and get some extra steps in the parking lot of the mall. Take a break from decorating, wrapping, or cooking, and march for 10 minutes.

*Practice SELF CARE! (So hard this time of year!) take a minute before meals to breathe and set yourself up for mindful eating, get the rest that you need, take some times for yourself each day to look around, breathe, look at the beauty of your family and friends, and take in the lights, decorations and music of the season. All of this will help avoid stress.

*FIND SUPPORT! Find an accountability partner; ask a friend or family member to join you on your journey

*If you do succumb to a bad day, or even week, pull your self together! Do not feel guilty! We are all human, and this happens! Feeling guilty can lead to even worse behavior-so pick your self up and brush yourself off! Plan to make your next meals balanced! Check your portion sizes, focus on lean proteins, and lots of fiber filled veggies. Avoid those processed foods, drink that water, and get up and get some movement in.

Ultimate Reset!

I’m a hardcore supporter of Beachbody, and I’ve spent the last two years enjoying the nutritious shakes and working my way through many of the workout programs with great success. I love Shaun T’s T25 and Cize, and 21 Day Fix is always great go-to for getting whipped into shape quickly. I always research the programs closely before I start them, and keep detailed records of my achievements as I follow through. During my many hours of research, I always came across a program that seemed quite daunting and a little bit “too much”-Ultimate Reset.

What is Ultimate Reset???

Ultimate Reset is a 21 Day cleanse and detox program that takes one on a three phased journey of supplements, tons of mineralized water, and carefully timed meals of super-foods. There are many online before and after pics and claims of dropping as much as 22 pounds on this plan, as well as many blogs about the somewhat harrowing journey to reach day 22. There are many “new” foods, the program cuts out all animal proteins after week one, and you are eating completely vegan by the end of the plan. This, along with the fact that I am allergic to many foods, as well as an extremely picky eater, left me feeling like this would be a miserable and impossible feat to accomplish! I always went back to my 21 Day Fix container diet, and left the Ultimate Reset linger in the back of my mind.

Until NOW! WOW! I sit, writing this, on the afternoon of day 21, with a few supplements sitting on my desk, waiting to be taken as I complete this last day. To date, I have dropped 12.4 pounds, 6.5% body fat, and a total of 10 inches! I have tried new foods, gained new energy, and have such an amazing feeling of accomplishment! I will finish this day strong, and start to add some healthy proteins back into my diet tomorrow-which is when I will be switching back to my 21 Day Fix eating plan. I’ve been told that going OFF the Reset can be as daunting as completing it, but I am not worried-I eat rather clean as it is. I can’t wait to eat some chicken breast and gluten free toast! I have no plans of running to grab a cheeseburger or fries, because that’s not my normal eating anyway.

There’s tons of info online about the breakdown of this program, with menus ideas and recipes, so I won’t go into the intricate details of the program here. I will  however go into some of the thoughts and issues that I had while doing it….

First-the WHY

My “why” is rather typical-I needed to drop some added pounds and bloating, gain my energy back, and put an end to this crappy, sluggish, feeling. After spending 15 weeks on T25 last spring/summer, I was back in a bikini (at 51, mind you) and feeling quite fabulous. I went down with a pinched nerve in the fall, and due to pain, was unable to exercise for months. No exercise+50 year old metabolism+holiday food and drink=one unhealthy person! I started the new year in sweatpants, exhausted most of the the day, dragging myself to physical therapy appointments and waiting for bedtime. Once cleared by my PT guy, I said ENOUGH, and tried on my size 4 jeans……well….I attempted to try them on….Nope. So, in a fit of very calculated disgust, I loaded up the Ultimate Reset sales page, and took the plunge. I received my package-book, supplements, and a bracelet that reminded me of my beach hippy days-a few days later, loaded up my fridge and pantry with healthy foods, and got my butt on the scale. The scale said “YOU’RE READY!”

How Did it Go?

Week One-RECLAIM

Phase One is focused on removing refined foods and animal products from the diet, while adding tons of veggies. There are healthy grains added like quinoa and oatmeal, and sugars are replaced with pure maple syrup and raw honey in very small amounts.

Day 1 was hard. I felt deprived, looked at the calendar date 3 weeks away, choked down the Power Green Supplement at 4:15, almost threw up, looked at the box in front of me and thought, “What am I doing?” But I continued on…

Days 2-4 were terrible. This seems to be a common issue for most on the program. Online blogs and Facebook support groups are full of posts about headaches, chills, achy bodies, nausea, and exhaustion. I experienced all of this as my body began to detox. I was miserable, and to add to my misery, I came down with a terrible head cold. I spent the first weekend in bed, sipping my minaralized water, feeling as though my head might explode. I wasn’t hungry though, so that was a positive point.

By Day 5, I was feeling much better. My energy level was rising, my cold was gone, and I was enjoying the foods. My favorite, by far, was oatmeal with fresh fruit. I set alarms on my phone to remind me to take my supplements, drink my water, and eat my meals, and the next few days just flowed right on by.

Week Two-RELEASE

Phase Two focuses on releasing toxins from the body, including a gentle but thorough colon cleanse. This cleanse is very gentle, so there was no cramping or running to the bathroom, thankfully. This weeks food is completely plant based-fruits, veggies, and grains. I had a busy week planned, so I opted for the “Crunch Menu” plan ( a basic phase by phase daily menu plan), and ate pretty much the same yummy foods almost every day-fruits for breakfast, veggies and broth for lunch, and beans, brown rice, and veggies for dinner. My energy level was very high, my sleep was improved, and my skin was looking more vibrant. I had no headaches or body aches, and I remained very focused. At this point, I weight myself, and had dropped 6 pounds in 9 days! At this point, I was looking forward to my phone alarms going off so that I could take my supplements and feel one step closer to my goals.

Week Three-RESTORE

Phase Three is the last week of Ultimate Reset, and the phase in which it all seems to really come together. In this phase, the only foods allowed are veggies and fruits, with a sweet potato option at dinner for some bulk. The week flew by, and my schedule was busy, but my phone reminders kept me on target with meals and supplements, and my handy insulated lunch bag kept my prepped food fresh while I ran my errands. My energy level has been off the charts, I’m waking earlier each day, and my mind seems clearer than before I started this program. I see the finish line, and beyond! Im currently down 12.4 pounds, and dropped 6.5% body fat. SCORE!

In the End…

I have to admit, when I started this program, I was very honest with my doubts in completing it. Our lives are very busy, we tend to dine out often, and I have many food allergies-as well as being a picky eater. When I try a new food-well, it’s usually not quinoa or lentils, but some chef inspired delicacy. But, I committed myself to doing this…And I told so many people-I had to be held accountable!!!

So, the big question-to sum it all up-is, would I do it again??? With that, I have to weigh the pros and cons…..

Pros:

The weight came off quickly, as did the nasty bloated feeling. That kept me inspired and pushed me through another day-every day.

The support I found on my Facebook Ultimate Reset groups was inspiring, full of information, and really held me accountable with daily check ins.

The foods were good-some will say awesome. I discovered a love for mangos and oatmeal that I had previously just not cared to focus on.

The ability to substitute certain foods made this easy to manage and plan around my tastes.

My husband seemed to enjoy my foods, and started eating much healthier-he even tried to eat some of my pre-measured fruit plate…I almost bit him.!

My clothes fit for the first time in months, and my energy level and brain clarity is is high!

Cons:

The cost of the program, complete with supplements is a bit pricey.

The scheduling of the supplements, water, and meals is a bit daunting for busy lifestyles.

Family meal time was a whole new ball game in dieting; I was eating foods I wasn’t so stoked about, while watching my teens eat pizza and fries.

My fridge was jam packed with bags of produce, my counters were covered in fruit, and I had to find an entire new shelf for the aminos, oils, vinegars, lentils, quinoa….so much food!

I had to run to the grocery store every 2 days  for fresh produce, and my dishwasher was constantly full of tupperware, pans, and measuring utensils,

But, in the end-I have to say….I would do it again. Now that I know all the ins and outs, the tricks and the shortcuts, and what to expect, I would definitely do it again.

Tips, shortcuts, time/money savers:

Don’t run out and buy an entire week’s worth of produce! This seems to be a common mistake. Your produce will start to go bad after a few days, so only buy what you need for 3 days max.

Buy your dry goods in bulk-lentils, oatmeal, quinoa, rice, beans, etc. You will use lots of them over the three weeks, and hopefully, you will enjoy the recipes and want to make them again.

Many recipes call for aminos. These are not incredibly easy to find-I had to go to 3 stores. I ended up finding them at Whole Foods, but they are also available on Amazon. Don’t be concerned about trying them! The Braggs Aminos taste like soy sauce, only better, and are wheat free. You will find them where oils are found. (hardest thing to locate on the menu!)

Use “Reset in a Crunch” if the daily menus seem daunting. You can repeat meals in each cycle as much as you wish. If you don’t like a menu, replace it with another menu item for that week for the same meal of that day.

Join the Facebook groups for awesome support and accountability! Check in daily and learn more as you go. Search on Facebook for Beachbody Ultimate Reset groups-there is one for each phase, including pre and post.

DRINK THE WATER!!!!! Just DRINK IT!!! It made ALL the difference!

For more info about this program, or to purchase it, contact me