The Healing Powers of Yoga

Hello readers! This week I want to share about something that is very dear to me-yoga! I’m super excited and happy to announce that after years of practicing yoga, I recently enrolled in a program to become a certified yoga teacher! I’m looking forward to sharing more information about yoga with you in the near future!

There are many different forms of yoga, each of which has many of the same health benefits, but each style also has some unique qualities. There is hatha yoga, hot yoga, restorative yoga, and so many others. In this blog post, I want to share about restorative yoga. Restorative yoga is so AMAZING!

With restorative yoga, you are doing a practice that is much gentler on your body. It is intended to help heal your body and mind, promote wellness, and help you learn basic stretches that will open up your body and allow for healing. This form of yoga-like others, promotes deep breathing through the nose, which leads to a very calming, cleansing, almost meditative feeling that reduces stress and anxiety, and bring a focus and stillness to the mind.

Do You Need Restorative Yoga in Your Life?

Have you felt a little anxious? Perhaps you’re having a hard time falling or staying asleep? Maybe you wake in the morning feeling un-refreshed or cloudy headed? Maybe you have moments of anger building up during your day, or simply realize you need a sense of more calm and less drama in your life? Maybe you are a multi-tasker or someone that simply cannot turn those constant thoughts off long enough to find some peace? Perhaps you simply feel little aches and pains in your life from a lack of getting proper exercise, or perhaps, you’ve paused to check your phone a few to many times  while reading this post???? Yoga….it IS your friend!

Restorative Yoga for Stress Relief

Most forms of yoga can be amazing for stress relief, but restorative yoga has a few added benefits for this purpose.

First of all, restorative yoga is more of a slower and gentler form of yoga. Instead of moving swiftly from one pose to the next, each pose in restorative yoga is going to be held for considerably longer, with deeper and very measured breathing. This is great for building up your strength and flexibility, but also gives you time to adjust and stretch through each pose. You are given more time to breathe during the pose and relax your muscles fully-you will find that with each breath, you are able to relax deeper and more completely into your poses.

You will notice that in a restorative yoga class, the entire environment is much more relaxing, which in of itself makes it better for people who are doing yoga specifically to help relieve stress. Often, whether done in class or online, there is meditative sounds or music to bring you even further into your relaxation for both mind and body.

Why Props Are Used in Restorative Yoga

Another big difference between restorative yoga and other forms of the practice is that props are used frequently. This is a mellow yoga class that is meant to relax you, so props are often used to help support your body. This allows you to hold the poses in the proper position, and for longer periods of time. Keep in mind-It is this length of time for each pose that really makes it “restorative” and healing for both your body and mind.

If you take a yoga class, they might tell you what items to bring, though most classes also provide them for their students. However, if you are doing it at home, get props like yoga blocks and bolsters if you can. Otherwise, rolled-up towels or small blankets also work great. These props make it easier for you to reach and hold each pose even if you have little flexibility or balance, therefore taking much f the body challenge out of the yoga equation.

The Best Stress-Relieving Yoga Positions

While many yoga poses used in restorative yoga are great for stress relief, there are some that are better to start with. If you are dealing with stress and overwhelm, try some of these beginner-friendly poses:

Child’s Pose

It is always good to start with a yoga pose that is very simple and easy to get your stretch in, such as the child’s pose. If you do other workouts, like strength training or Pilates, you might be familiar with child’s pose as it is a common post-workout stretch.

The child’s pose is done starting on your knees, with the top of your feet and shins flat on the ground. Leave your knees about shoulder-width apart, then start bending your body forward until your head and shoulders between your knees. Bend forward as far as you can with your arms stretched out in front of you. You want a good stretch, but not so much that it causes discomfort or pain.

Child’s pose helps calm the breath, eases lower back pain, stretches the hips and thighs, and increases circulation throughout the body.

Supported Bridge Pose

Lie on your back with your knees bent, and feet just far away from your bottom that you can touch them with your fingertips. Place a folded blanket or pillow under your lower back if support is needed. In this pose, you will gently rise from the hips, through the thighs, into a “bridge, with the upper back and shoulder still on the ground. Keep your arms relaxed and by your sides, or place them over your belly or heart. Hold this pose while breathing slowly through the nose. Bridge pose strengthens the back and glutes, while opening the chest and hip flexors. It brings calmness to the body, alleviates stress, improves digestion, and can even help with depression.

Legs up the Wall

 You can try the legs up the wall yoga pose, another classic pose that is great for beginners. All you need to do is find a wall in your home or the yoga studio that you will be able to lean your body against. You will lie with your back and buttocks on the ground, with your legs straight up in front of you, on the wall. An easy way to get into this position is put one hip on the wall, lay down flat, slowly swinging your legs around to go up the wall. Using a folded blanket under your hips will reduce any pressure from the lower back. Holding this position while using a steady breath will release tension throughout the entire body, reduce anxiety, and even lower the heart rate. This pose can also help with insomnia.

I use restorative yoga almost nightly in my personal routine. In recent weeks, during some especially stressful moments, I have pulled out my mat several times a day to spend a few moments doing simple poses and breathing deeply and slowly. The degree of calm I feel almost immediately has made me a huge believer in the practice. I hope you will take a few moments to try a pose or two each day and see how it can bring a calming, positive affect to your daily life. As always, if you’re interested in exploring new mindsets and pathways for your health and wellness journey, please reach out to me! I’d love to help set up, support, and motivate you in a program designed just for you.

Intermittent Fasting 101

Intermittent fasting has become a hugely popular way of eating and living for health, fat burn, longevity, and even brain clarity. It’s not so much considered a “diet” as it is a lifestyle and eating pattern. In recent months, it’s become a huge topic in many of my circles and groups, and it’s often one of the first topics my perspective clients want to discuss when we begin our health relationship. So, this week, while searching for the perfect topic for a blog post, IF-intermittent fasting just seemed like the perfect choice!

This way of eating doesn’t so much involve “what you eat”, but “when you eat”, so the restrictions as to food choices are not as critical as most eating plans. Pairing intermittent fasting with a healthy balanced diet can result in not only weight loss, but many other really incredible health benefits as well.

There have proven to be many benefits to living the IF lifestyle. When it comes to weight loss or maintaining weight, IF works! Eating within specific time frames leads to lower calorie intake without the dreaded focus on food choices or food restrictions. During periods of fasting, human growth hormones increase quickly, leading to stored fat loss and muscle retention, and insulin levels appear to drop quickly, which makes fat loss easier. And, incredibly enough, “autophagy” occurs after a short period of fasting-this is when our cells begin to digest and get rid of old and dysfunctional cells, replacing them with new cells. There are also changes to hormone levels and genes during this process that affect longevity, aging, and help protect against disease.

While people using IF usually find that making the adjustment to this lifestyle a little challenging, they soon come to realize that it becomes a rather easy lifestyle change, and are pleased to see rapid, visible results that keep them motivated to continue on. They find that weight loss is quicker, easier, and more convenient, report a decrease in inflammation in the body, find better brain clarity and mood balance, and find that their metabolism increases, and their sleep is better. Many people even report that they feel as though they have cleansed or detoxed their entire body systems!

The WHAT and the HOW

There are several ways of doing IF, and it can easily be structured to fit your particular lifestyle and habits.

16/8 is the most popular method of this lifestyle, in which you fast for 16 hours, and eat within an 8 hour period 7 days a week. For many, this may mean stopping food intake at 8pm, and not eating another meal until noon the next day.

2/24 in another way of doing IF. With this method, fasting is done for a full 24 hours twice a week, and a regular schedule of eating exists for the remaining 5 days. Low calorie beverages are allowed during this type of fasting, and some people even incorporate drinking bone broth into their fasting phases for added gut health benefits.

5:2 is yet another way of doing IF, and this method has one eating less than 500 calories 2 days a week, and eating regularly on the remaining days. This method does have the added responsibility of counting and monitoring calories and/or marcos on the two days of restricted eating, so keep that in mind when making your plans. This form of IF only works if you are NOT using the other 5 days to eat very large amounts of food.

*All of these methods work with reducing caloric intake when a healthy, somewhat moderated approach is taken during “eating times”. Some healthy regard for fueling your body and monitoring your intake is necessary as with any healthy lifestyle choice.

In my own personal experience with intermittent fasting, I have found that it works wonderfully. I have done IF in many ways over the last several months, generally using a 17/7 schedule as a regular routine. On occasion, I fast for 2-4 days every few months to balance my gut and detox my body and soul. You can read about my longer fasts here if you are interested. My routine 17/7 eating pattern has proven to improve my sleep, and given me more mental clarity and focus. It has also helped remove my nightly cravings for carbs, which is a huge win! I have also noticed that when my fasting period is up, I am NOT as likely to want to eat large meals-my stomach seems to feel full much quicker, and I stay full for longer periods of time.

Many people doing IF use apps to track their fasts and inspire or challenge them. I have found that using an app to track my fasts does two things-inspires and motivates me to complete my fast, and, there’s something about hitting the “start fast” button each night that adds some form of “closure” to my day. It’s kind of like telling my brain and stomach “We are DONE!” It’s all about MINDSET!

Fast Habit is the first app I used, and it was a free version. It simply alerted me to start fasting each night at the time I had set, and alerted me the next day when my fast was over. Simple, basic, free. Highly recommended for the beginner.

Fastic is the app I currently use. I have the paid version for the bells and whistles. This app also sends me alerts-including one an hour before my fasting time starts in case I need to take advantage of getting in my last meal. The paid version also offers daily lessons on nutrition, mindset, diet biology, motivation, and other interesting facts. I’ve learned a lot using this app, and it’s also highly recommended. Apps, of course, are not needed, you can simply add your start and finish times to a reminder on your phone calendar.

The “WHO” in Intermittent Fasting

While many studies show that Intermittent Fasting is a safe form of eating for most adults, there are some people that should not follow this lifestyle. If you are underweight, pregnant, trying to conceive, breastfeeding, or suffer from any eating disorder, this lifestyle is not recommended.

One should seek guidance from a medical professional before attempting Intermittent Fasting if they have diabetes, low blood sugar, are on medications, have low blood pressure, or have a serious illness.

Side Effects Possibly Experienced During IF

For most healthy individuals, side effects are very mild and, as the body adjusts and adapts, temporary. Hunger pains, food cravings, low energy, disrupted sleep, irritability, bad breath, and dehydration can occur in the early stages of IF.

Many of these side effects can be due to dehydration; people tend to drink less fluids when not eating meals and snacks throughout the course of a day. To alleviate this issue, be sure to consume fluids regularly throughout the day. 64oz of water should be the goal, and tea and coffee are allowed. (keeping in mind that caffeine will dehydrate you, make sure the bulk of fluids is water!)

I hope that you’ve learned a few things about this “all the rage” healthy lifestyle choice and perhaps have decided to try this out for yourself. If you’d like to learn more about intermittent fasting as a lifestyle, or are looking to make other healthy lifestyle changes to improve your life, I encourage you to reach out to me for a free and fun conversation about finding the steps, information, and motivation to live your absolute BEST life!

Please visit my professional site BeeWell.com for more info, freebies and tips!

The Absolute Beginners Guide to Eating Healthy

If you’re currently not eating a healthy diet, it can be difficult to start such a plan. However, healthy eating, along with some enjoyable form of exercise is very important for maintaining good bodily function and goes a long way towards living a disease-free life. If you struggle with healthy eating, then you know that breaking unhealthy habits can be the most difficult part of the process. Therefore, if you truly want to live the best lifestyle possible, it is important to follow tips in order to start eating a more healthy diet.

A great first step when you want to start eating your way to a healthy lifestyle is to rid your home of all temptations that will distract you from following better eating habits. Ideally it would be a smart choice to keep junk foods and beverages out of your house so you will not be tempted to snack during those times of day when you find yourself eating out of boredom or stress. If you’re worried about being hungry, keep healthy snacks like carrot sticks, yogurt, fresh fruit, or whole-wheat crackers on hand. If you find that you just cannot bear to toss out the sweets, try keeping small portions of those foods for special occasions only. Eating a few, (emphasis on few) of these won’t ruin your diet but also will give you that little sugary fix you crave.

Another great step to healthy eating, when you’re first starting the process, is to take a few moments to learn what foods are the healthiest for you and how they work within the body. To start eating healthy, we must begin by thinking healthy. Most people understand that fruits, vegetables, and low-fat meats and dairy products are good for them, but few people understand why. The key is learning about the nutrients the body needs to be at it’s optimal health. When you understand how specific nutrients work and why you need them, it becomes easier for you to make healthier choices for your body. Knowledge, especially in this case, really is power! You body, after all, is a machine and machines run best when powered by the right fuel!

Preparation is a major key in starting a new healthy diet. You must take into consideration your schedule for meals. If you often eat in a rushed hurry at odd times of day, you are probably more inclined to grab a rushed meal-that will probably do more harm than good. So plan ahead! Instead of grabbing a fast food lunch on the go, take a bagged lunch to work, complete with a healthy wrap or some lean meat, and some fresh fruit and vegetables. Try a little meal planning for your evening meals-having a planned, prepped and ready meal waiting for when you arrive home would be ideal, but in our fast paced lifestyle, sometimes this just can’t be done. One way to solve this problem is to plan out your evening meals for the week before you do your weekly shopping. Focus your meal prep around 2 main foods each week. For example, in week 1, plan 3 meals using chicken breasts, and 3 meals using lean beef. Cooking those foods at the same time, then adding other ingredients to make several prepped meals will ensure that you have healthy, tasty foods available when you are too tired to plan or cook. Think: chicken breasts with a hearty salad one night, chicken and bean chili another night, and even a hearty chicken soup for another meal. Doubling up on these foods can also provide easy healthy lunches.

When planning your grocery shopping, always have a plan and a list ready. To eat as clean as possible, and to avoid the temptations of high calorie, nutrient low, packaged foods, focus your shopping trip on the perimeters of the store: produce, meats, dairy. Fill your cart with seasonal fruits and veggies for side dishes and snacks. Look for lean cuts of meat, and lower fat versions of your favorite daily products. Never shop when you are hungry! Have a small healthy meal or snack before leaving for your shopping trip so that you are not tempted into buying things just to satisfy your need to eat.

Start with baby steps. Even if you only replace one soda a day with a glass of water, you are really improving your calorie intake. If you eat fast food every day for lunch, try replacing that half of the time with better quality foods. When you start by taking small steps you aren’t cutting out all of the foods you love all at once. By taking your time to learn about your eating habits and slowly replacing them with better meals, by taking the time to learn and understand why you should be doing that and making the necessary changes in an orderly fashion, you will feel much better within yourself physically, mentally and emotionally and well on the road to becoming as healthy as you can be.

If you are ready to take the next step but looking for guidance, knowledge, and motivation, consider setting up a time to discuss and set your goals, gain the nutritional knowledge that you need, learn meal planning and prep, stress relief, and more, and get started on a fantastic journey to finding yourself in the best health possible. Today can easily be a changing day in your life. Contact me now for a free 30 minute call.

www.beewell.com

Gaining the Mindset for Weightloss

Weight loss is one of the most challenging things you can do, but also one of the most rewarding. It not only changes your body composition and improves your physical health, but it can also improve your mental health at the same time. The problem is often not with your physical body, but how your mind reacts to changing certain lifestyles that will help you lose weight and keep it off.

Often, when we make the decision to create healthy changes in our lifestyle, it’s based on something negative that has happened; a doctor has said something to worry us, we don’t like the way we feel, our clothes don’t fit the way we want them to, or we don’t like what we see in the mirror. Those negative prompts get us thinking about making changes, and often times, the changes that need to be made are not exactly the things we want to do, and this just sets us up for a negative, and seemingly impossible, task that is just not sustainable in the long run. The answer to this endless cycle is mindset!

What is MINDSET?

Mindset, in the general sense, is the set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself. Mindset influences your thought patterns, your feelings towards things, and how you will react to situations around you. There are two types of mindsets: fixed and growth.

Fixed mindset is the belief that things are simply the “way they are”, and that those things cannot be changed.

Growth mindset is the belief that you have the power and ability to make the changes you need to reach the goals that you desire.

To achieve the needed mindset for weight loss-or any health changes you wish to make in your life-the mindset needed is, of course, GROWTH! You need to believe that you CAN! And, believe me-you CAN. To get you started on your journey to a healthier you, here’s a few things to think about. I encourage you to think about these carefully, reflect on them, and even journal or make a list to help you find the clarity you need to get started on the right track.

Find a Positive “WHY”

It’s important to put a positive spin on your “why”. Instead of thinking about losing weight to avoid needing a medication or lowing your blood pressure, try to find a positive reason, like feeling younger, or being able to play more with your grandchildren. Instead of thinking about losing weight because you clothes don’t fit the way you want them too, try switching your thoughts to how awesome you will feel when you simply don’t have to feel self conscious in anything you wear. Instead of thinking about what you “can’t eat, wear, do” in your life, think about the things you CAN or WILL do. Think about them often. Write them down. Talk about them. Plan for them. Replace your negative thoughts with positive thoughts, and you will find that the entire process becomes less daunting; less restrictive, and less like a chore.

Why Are You Overweight, or Why Do You Struggle With Your Desired Weight?

In order to have a healthier mindset to help you lose weight, you first need to figure out what the main purpose for your weight gain is. This can be something from your childhood, unhealthy habits, food addiction or disordered eating, and medical conditions. Sometimes, your weight is determined by genetics or a medication you are taking, so weight loss and your mindset is going to be much different than if it is from your mental health or simple unhealthy choices you have been making. Knowing the clear reason behind any excess weight will help you get a plan in action to get it off.

Keep Weight Loss Simple

Once you have figured out your WHY, and pinpointed why you have gained weight, you are on the right path to developing a healthier mindset for weight loss. It is important to start by making it very SIMPLE. Don’t try to do a complicated, fad diet, a crash diet, or anything that might be hard on both your body and your mind. Don’t try to lose 10 pounds in a week or start your diet at the same time as a rigorous fitness routine. Start slow, keep it simple, and give yourself enough time to really understand the process. Remember, small steps add up to big changes, but big changes all at once are exhausting and often left far behind in our thoughts. One or two small changes in a week’s time are more than enough. Build on changes as you go, adding as you feel more empowered. It’s better to make four small changes consistently over 4 weeks, then it is to make 4 changes in one week that only make your life seem restrictive and difficult.

Choose Your Own Goals and Path

Your journey has to be your own! What works for your co-workers or best friend is likely not the best choice for you! If everyone is eating keto, but you don’t like the menu choices-it’s NOT going to work for you. If your best friend is dropping weight by running several miles a day, and you hate outdoor exercise-it’s NOT going to work for you. You absolutely NEED to find changes in your lifestyle that work for YOUR life. You need a movement program that you enjoy, not one that you dread. You need foods that you love to eat, not foods that make you feel restricted. Your plan needs to be focused on you. (If you need help with this-this is my specialty! Let’s chat!) You should find some excitement in the changes you are making, because in the end, those changes will be easy to sustain.

Get Educated

One of the best ways to stick to health lifestyle changes is to become educated! Spend a little time researching the foods you eat, read the ingredients on your packaged and processed foods, learn how foods work in your body, and how exercise affects your overall wellbeing. Working with a health coach or a nutritionist is a great place to start in understanding how the foods you eat work with your body, and how overall wellness-stress, sleep, exercise, mindset-affects how you feel and how you live.

Be Mindful

Recognizing emotions and feelings towards food, eating, and how we live our daily lives can really help you understand why and where changes need to be made for the better. For example, eating while stressed is a huge factor in weight gain. Recognizing the pattern can lead you to finding other ways of relieving stress. Rushing through meals, or eating on the go are other factors in our weight. Learning to be mindful of our meals, taking time to enjoy the foods we eat, noticing when we feel satisfied and full, are all important factors in weight loss and weigh control.

Gravitate to Positivity During Your Journey

Find your support! Gain a healthy tribe of like-minded people! Consider a health coach to guide you, motivate you, and keep you focused. Avoid people who are going to bring you down, encourage unhealthy eating habits, or who talk down to you along the way. This journey is life changing, and you will find that it’s a much easier and pleasant path if you surround yourself with people that believe in healthy living, and believe in YOU.

Learn to Focus on the Now

Instead of focusing on the scale, the mirror, or “the number” you wish to see, focus on each moment. Looking into the future at a point in which you will feel you have reached that ultimate goal will only make you exhausted. Focus on hourly and daily goals to keep your motivation positive and constant. Pat yourself on the back for your healthy breakfast, celebrate the fact that you stopped eating after 7pm, congratulate yourself for getting a power walk in! Do this ALL day, EVERY day and remember that it’s these small steps, these small victories that will get you to the BIG goals!

Ask for Guidance, Find a Cheerleader, Make it Happen!

Consider finding a health coach to help you find the right mindset and program that will work for YOU. Unlike other generic “diet” plans, a health coach will work with you personally to design a plan that will be all about YOU. This plan will be about your goals, your choices, and your needs, and fit perfectly into the lifestyle you have and crave. A coach will help you find and set small, but specific, measurable and celebrated, attainable, relevant, time focused goals in each session, and celebrate them with you as well. They will help you change negative thoughts and habits into positive actions, as well as educate and inform you when you may be feeling overwhelmed by the vast amount of information that surrounds us daily on the internet and in society. It’s time to find what works for YOU, and make it all about YOU and your goals. If you’re ready to see what that might look like in your life, let’s chat! I’d love to put a plan together and get you where you want to be!

from my business site BeeWell.com

Munch that Stress Away! A Stress Reducing Diet

As I’ve mentioned several times, stress seems to be the number one issue my clients currently deal with. They may contact me about meal planning or diet strategies, but after a few conversations, it becomes clear that the root of their desire for change is based in stress. Stress affects our ability to think clearly, focus on tasks, sleep well, and have energy to do the things we wish to do in our lives. Often, when we feel stressed, we find that we crave easy, fast, comfort foods: big meals, take-out, fatty foods, sweets, and alcohol. I think we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, while we may feel better in the moment, this type of eating can lead to more stress, less energy due to lack of solid nutrition, and even putting on unwanted pounds.

If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, (and hey, 2020 still looms in most of our lives) it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. The best way to fight stress nutritionally is to have a healthy, balanced diet that includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.

Filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of the diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. When it comes to choosing the foods to eat, some have a range of great properties that will help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix like most “comfort” foods and drinks do. Be sure to add some of these power foods to your diet as part of your stress reducing plan:

•       Avocado – Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit that can be enjoyed in a range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings and dips, or in a smoothie. These nutrient-dense fruits have the properties to stress-proof your body, thanks to their high glutathione content that specifically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause oxidative damage. Avocados also contain higher levels of vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene than any other fruit, which boosts their stress-busting properties. However, be careful with portion control when eating avocado, as it is high in fat.

•       Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for the snacks, swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm. Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially antho-cyanin, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benefits including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress.

•       Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the stress you’re feeling. Drinking liquids which are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks or soda, can actually increase your stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.

•       Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can actually make you happier. However, that doesn’t mean that you can start munching on chocolate bars every time you’re stressed out – chocolate works best as a de-stressor when eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Dark chocolate in particular is best for you, as it contains more flavonols and polyphenols, two hugely important antioxidants which can help combat stress, more than many fruit juices.

•       Beef – Grass-fed beef is not only kinder to the planet and to animals, it’s also good for people, too. Grass-fed beef has a huge range of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and Vit-amins C and E, which can help your body to fight stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for more reasons to spend a little more money on organic, grass-fed beef, it’s also lower in fat than grain-fed beef whilst being higher in omega-3.

•       Oatmeal – Oatmeal is great in that it can be a filling comfort food, but also has a large number of healthy properties to actually make you feel better from the inside out. A complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal causes your brain to produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, helping you to feel calmer and less stressed. Studies have shown that kids who choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper throughout the morning in school compared to kids who had alternative morning meals.

•       Walnuts – If you’re looking for a healthy snacking option that will help you to stay better in control of your stress levels, walnuts are a great choice. There is no denying the sweet, pleasant flavor of walnuts and they can be a tasty snack for in-between meals or as part of a desert. A versatile nut, walnuts are great for salads, or add them to a sweet treat such as coffee and walnut cake.

•       Pistachios – another food that is great for snacking on and can also help to combat stress and anxiety in the long term is pistachios. Studies have found that simply eating two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day can lower vascular constriction when you are stressed, putting less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. Along with this, the rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually be quite therapeutic!

•       Green Leafy Vegetables – leafy, green vegetables should be a pivotal part of anyone’s diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of nutrients and antioxidants that can help to fight off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall.

•       Fermented foods – last but not least, eating fermented foods such as yogurt can help to keep your gut healthy, which actually in turn will help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. The beneficial bacteria that are found in fermented foods like yogurt actually have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and transmit positive mood and behavior regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve.

Let’s Plan Your  Stress Reducing Diet Plan

Planning your meals wisely is key to not only staying physically fit and healthy, but also to staying mentally strong and being able to best manage your levels of stress. Knowing which foods to avoid and which are the best to reach for to snack on when you’re feeling worried and anxious is important to helping you get control over your emotions and fears.

When you’re feeling stressed, you may be tempted to reach for classic ‘comfort foods’ – usually foods which are laden with sugar, very starchy, or greasy. However, although these foods can make you feel momentarily better, they will actually make you feel worse in the long run.

Having stress-busting snacks such as fresh berries, dark chocolate, yogurt, walnuts or pistachios, or even a fruit smoothie with avocado and leafy greens in it can help you to feel better in both the short and long term when it comes to stress. When it comes to combating and dealing with stress in the long run, it’s important to make sure that for the most part, you are eating a diet which is healthy and balanced.

In order to stay on track, it’s a good idea to make a meal plan for your week and plan ahead to make sure that you have a good selection of these stress-busting foods in your kitchen to make meals and snacks from when you’re feeling like stress-eating. Making sure that the majority of your meals include foods such as lean proteins and leafy green vegetables will not only make you feel healthier overall, but can improve your mental health and stress levels, too.

A good example of a healthy, stress-busting menu would be:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries or a fruit smoothie with avocado and berries

Mid-morning snack: Natural yogurt with fruit or a handful of pistachio nuts

Lunch: A whole-grain pasta salad filled with plenty of leafy greens

Afternoon snack: Dark chocolate

Dinner: Grass-fed beef with vegetables

Before bed: Chamomile tea

Of course, you don’t need to stick to this menu – but it gives you a great basic outline to follow! Remember to exercise good portion control when eating foods such as nuts, chocolate, yogurt or avocado! As the saying goes, you are what you eat – so make sure that first and foremost, you’re filling yourself up with foods which are good for your mental health.

If you’d like to know more about creating a stress reducing lifestyle, please feel free to reach out to me for personal help. Diet, sleep, exercise, and self care are some of the pillars to reducing stress and living your best life! CONTACT ME NOW!

*from my business site BeeWell.com

Dip into a Healthy Game!

It’s Superbowl Weekend, which means it’s time for football friendly snacking!  Even though parties are still on the backburner, I’m offering up a few yummy and super healthy crowd-pleasing dips that are a convenient and delicious way to consume a wide variety of anti-inflammatory vegetables, spices, and healthy fats. While we love the convenience of purchased dips like packaged hummus, many brands contain unnecessary levels of fat and preservatives. Making dips yourself allows you to control the flavor and quality – and it’s easy!

The best dips begin with a creamy base made from foods such as beans, lentils, avocados, edamame, and roasted vegetables [eggplant, carrots, squash, zucchini, peppers, cauliflower] that are blended with oil or another liquid. Add flavor boosters such as tahini, garlic, hot sauce, nut butters, nuts and seeds, lemon or lime juice and zest to add dimension. Finish by seasoning with fresh and dried herbs, spices, salt and pepper and your dip is complete. Here are some of our favorite combinations with healthy “vehicle to your mouth” ideas:

Ingredient and flavor combinations

  • Chickpea hummus [and other beans] – The classic chickpea base is very versatile and can be made with any bean. Add tahini, garlic, lemon, and cumin to chickpeas for a traditional version. Variations include [but are not limited to] roasted red pepper, lemon kale, Moroccan carrot, roasted zucchini, kalamata olive, spicy sriracha, and creamy pesto. Try this crowd-pleasing version for Lemon Dill Hummus!
  • Avocado, AKA guacamole! We love the healthy fats in avocado, but the calories can be intimidating. Cut the amount of avocado in half by adding defrosted edamame beans – you will decrease the calories and increase the protein. Win, win. Add some greens to keep your dip bright and fresh. This Kale and Avocado Guacamole is a team favorite.
  • Roasted vegetables – Baba ganoush is the ultimate example here – a combination of roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon, and garlic. Other roasted vegetables that work well in dips are butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, and peppers. Roasting them allows you to process vegetables until creamy. Start with store-bought for this nutrient-dense and super flavorful Roasted Red Pepper Walnut Dip.

Vehicles: (GET IN MY MOUTH!)

  • Carrot chips or sticks – You can purchase prepared crinkle cut carrot chips or slice carrots on angle. Baby carrots work too.
  • Cucumber chips – Slice cucumbers on an angle to maximize surface area for scooping.
  • Broccoli or cauliflower – Lightly steam these vegetables to bring out their sweetness – you want them to still have the firmness necessary to dip.
  • Green beans – Remove stems, rinse, and dip. If you prefer, you can lightly steam these as well.
  • Endive – This nutrient dense vegetable is the ultimate chip – perfect shape, size, and sturdiness.
  • Peppers – Red, yellow, and orange peppers provide a variety of phytonutrients and are milder than green peppers.
  • Celery sticks – Firm and crisp, celery is a go to vehicle.
  • Snap peas – These can be consumed raw or lightly steamed.

Cherry tomatoes – We love using grape tomatoes on our crudités platters, but dipping them can be tricky. Using toothpicks can help keep your fingers free of dip.

I hope you get a chance to try them while watching the game. Go Team!!!

Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip

Ingredients

4 roasted red peppers, If jarred peppers, drain and rinse (fresh roasted red peppers work too)

1 Tbs olive oil


3 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp cumin, ground

1 lemon, juiced (for 2 Tbs juice)

1 clove garlic, chopped


1 cup walnuts, raw


1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

salt, to taste

Directions

Prep

Drain and rinse roasted red peppers. If using freshly roasted red peppers, you can leave the skin on. 


Chop garlic. 


Make

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until creamy with a bit of texture. 


Garnish with some additional walnuts and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt to taste. 


Serve with fresh vegetables like endive. 


Servings 4

Calories  242

Fat 22.6g    Saturated Fat 2.3g

Carbohydrates 8g   Dietary Fiber 2g     Sugars  4g

Protein 5g

Kale and Edamame Guacamole

Ingredients

4 avocados


4 cup shelled edamame, defrosted (peas work well too)


2 cup kale, spines removed and chopped


1/2 cup lime juice


2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped


1/4 cup red onion, chopped


2 Cloves garlic, pressed or minced


2 tsp ground cumin 


1 tsp salt


hot sauce, as desired

Directions

Prep

Remove spines and chop kale. 


Juice lime. 


Chop cherry tomatoes. 


Press or mince garlic cloves. 


Make

Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and scoop flesh into food processor. Add beans, kale, and lime juice and pulse until creamy. Add some water if you need some more creaminess or more lime juice to increase tartness. 


Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, cumin to processor and pulse until just combined 


Stir in hot sauce and salt to taste. 


Serve with baked chips and raw vegetables. 


Servings 12

Calories  196

Fat  13g   Saturated Fats 2.3

Carbohydrates    15g     Dietary Fiber  9g     Sugars   5g

Protein  9g

Lemon Dill Hummus

Ingredients

1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 Tbs tahini paste


1 lemon, zested and juiced


1 Clove garlic

1/4 cup olive oil


2 Tbs dill, fresh, chopped

1/4 cup scallions, chopped

salt, to taste


pepper, to taste

Directions

Prep

Drain and rinse chickpeas. 


Zest and juice lemon. 


Chop dill, scallions, garlic. 


Make

Add chickpeas, tahini, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, juice of lemon [about 3 tablespoons], and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until combined. 


Run processor while adding olive oil and continue running until hummus is smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if desired. 


Add dill and scallions and pulse to combine. Do not run too long or the dip will turn green. 


Serve with your favorite vegetables. 


Servings 8

Calories 117

Total Fat 8.5g   Saturated Fat 1g

Carbohydrates 9g   Dietary Fiber  2g   Sugars 1g

Protein  3g

You Deserve It!

The last couple of weeks have been exhausting! I completed classes, did the legalities for my business, set up my website, spoke with clients, made a bunch of fun graphics for social media, had photo sessions, and wrote a ton of articles. In keeping with my own health journey, I also logged a consistent 20K+ daily steps on my Fitbit, did Piyo and yoga, prepped food, and tried to spend as much time outside in the waning last days of warm weather here in beautiful southeast North Carolina. Sunday, at noon, I just crashed. I found myself looking at my pile of notes, my books, picking up my computer only to put it right back down in exhaustion. I gave myself permission to rest, feeling a bit guilty, and turned on the football game-only to doze off. It was really clear-I needed a day off.

For many of us, it’s really easy to just check out and take a day or weekend completely off of life and responsibilities. I’ve seen people spend endless hours binge watching a series, or just napping the day away blissfully. For others, it is not so easy. I’ve known people that simply never stop. They work on vacation, they carry a running list of what they need to do with them at all times, they use their breaks to switch up projects, and they never stop moving. I realized, as I sat, Sunday evening, writing this blog article after promising myself a day off-I am usually that person.

Often, when we begin a new journey in our lives, we get so excited, our energy is boundless, and we just want to keep moving, perhaps for fear of losing momentum. This is particularly true when we become focused on our health; that post workout euphoria, that site of the numbers moving on the scale, the sense of our body getting stronger and healthier. Hitting 10 thousand steps each day on your Fitbit was such an accomplishment-why not aim for 15? Adding 10 reps to your weight routine was exhilarating, so why not go for 20? It’s very easy for many to get pulled into the concept of one-upping ourselves, but, inevitably, over time, it wears us down. Everything, when overdone, only leads us to exhaustion.

If you are one of those people, you may have a hard time giving yourself a break. I know that I do! I’ve never been much of a “do nothing” kind of person, but it’s SO important to give our bodies and our minds a break. I take time each day to mediate, but I have to really force myself to just do “nothing at all”. Maybe it’s linked to a sense of accomplishment, maybe it’s about being obsessive, maybe it’s just something in our personal make up that leads us to be so goal focused, we can’t slow down. But “rest” and “doing nothing” is crucial to our health.

Rest, or down time, gives both our body and mind permission to recover, to rejuvenate, to prepare for a fresh start. Resting the body gives our muscles a chance to repair, gives our joints a break, and gives our mind a chance to wander outside the box of checklists and schedules. Often, simply taking a break leads us to see things clearer, and to be able to find the solution to problems and challenges much easier. Often, a well-deserved break gives us a new lease on focusing on our goals, and the ability to begin again, fresh and inspired.

I started this post on Sunday evening after feeling guilty of not getting much done in my haze of exhaustion, but three paragraphs in, the process of confronting my own inability to take a guilty free break worked, and I closed my computer and climbed into bed with a new show to binge watch and soon fell asleep. I awoke much more refreshed and clear-headed, ready to get some major projects completed on Monday morning. So….Rest worked!

If you find yourself being a goal chaser, like me, and having a hard time “turning it off”, take a few minutes today and examine that. Why is it hard to rest and relax? What can you do to make sure that you do make rest and recovery an important part of your life? What are some things you can do to make this process easier?

One thing that I have decided to do, being so “goal oriented” is to actually set a goal for what I will call “pamper time”. My pampering won’t be bubble baths or spa treatments, but simply time to not focus so much on my many lists. Time I will spend simply NOT focused on work, or chores, but on being lazy and enjoying some guilty pleasures of a Netflix series, or simply sitting on the beach watching the waves (in contrast to seeing how many steps I can get). I’m putting this on my schedule-actual scheduled time to do NOTHING, so that my mind will think it’s a requirement, and I can check it off!

If you are feeling run down, tired, unfocused, or exhausted, I strongly encourage you to plan some time to decompress and renew. This has been a monumentally difficult year for many, and the struggles have been very real even to those of us who were blessed enough to be about to handle it well. We all deserve a break, a really good break! I hope that you will take some time to take care of yourself in a fun and relaxing, pampering, guilt free manner, and know that while you NEED it, you also DESERVE it. Schedule some “me” time for yourself right now-it’s as important as anything else you have on that schedule!

reposted from my website BeeWell.com