Creating & Keeping Healthy Habits

You don’t have to wait until the new year to start setting a couple of new goals or develop a new positive habit.

Here are some ideas to help you out:

1.  For any healthy habits to stick, you need to figure out your “WHY” for making positive change.

Ask yourself WHY you want to build a new healthy habit or change a bad one. Write it down. And hang it up somewhere you can see it every day.

2.  RECRUIT ALLIES: find a friend or group of friends to build the habits with you.

Studies show that people with weight loss goals that start them with a friend or group are 70% more likely to follow through than if they did it alone.
*Remember, those first few weeks are the toughest, which means they’ll require the most effort to get started.*

3. Never miss TWO in a row!

What happens if you miss a day? Who cares! One day won’t ruin you – but two days often times will-because 2 becomes 30 in the blink of an eye.
As pointed out in a research summary: “Missing the occasional opportunity to perform the behavior did not seriously impair the habit formation process: automaticity gains soon resumed after one missed performance.”   But, more than one missed opportunity and things start to go downhill…..

4) DON’T PICK HABITS YOU HATE

“Hey Sally, I know I should run so I’m trying to build a running habit even though I hate running.” STOP!  You can get the same results with a different habit, such as dancing or swimming. Pick a habit that isn’t miserable for you and you’re more likely to follow through on it.

*At the same time, there are tons of success stories from people who went from hating exercise to loving how it feels. It’s because they made the habit part of a bigger picture: “I am exercising at the gym because I am building a kick-ass body so I can start dating again!” It’s because they had a BIG enough why to overcome their initial dislike of exercise until they learned to love how exercise made them feel.

5) TRY TEMPTATION BUNDLING

Consider combining a habit you dislike with something you LOVE, and you’ll be more likely to build the habit. For example, allow yourself an hour of watching Netflix, but ONLY while you’re on the Elliptical. This is called “temptation bundling” and can be a powerful tool for positive change.

What temptation bundling does:

It reduces the amount of time that you devote to temptations. After all, you’re limiting the situations in which you’ll allow yourself to engage in the temptation.
It increases the likelihood that you’ll engage in desired behavior. That is, it makes it easier for you to adopt positive habits.
READY TO BUILD A NEW HEALTHY HABIT?

Start small: 1-2 habits to begin. For example, if you want to start exercising: instead of setting a goal to do it every day, start off with 2 days a week of 15-20 minutes and then slowly add on when you are ready.  Or if you want to eat healthier: start off by cooking one healthy meal per week and then add another meal the next week.

REACH OUT TO ME HERE IF YOU’D LIKE SOME HELP!

Detoxifying Yoga Poses

The yoga poses below will stimulate your circulatory, digestive, and lymphatic systems, helping you rid your body of waste and toxins!

In addition to the physical benefits, yoga can also provide mental clarity. The calming and centering aspects of yoga are essential for an all-over detox for your mind and body, helping release physical, mental, and emotional toxicity.

Here is a list of just some of the benefits of adding yoga into your weekly health & fitness routine:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Better balanced hormones
  • Improved digestion
  • Less stress
  • Less toxic build-up in the body
Forward Fold

Detoxifying forward fold pose

 Forward Fold Pose:

This pose is great for opening tight hamstrings, allowing your head to fall below your heart. It also reverses the pull of gravity, encouraging circulation of blood throughout the body. The folding motion squeezes the belly which also moves things along for digestion.

downdog

Downward dog with a lifted, bent knee

Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Holding your head below your heart and your leg lifted in the air in this variation of Downward Dog encourages blood to circulate throughout the body, as well as move fluid to the lymph nodes. This pose can also be very relaxing, which can help in mental detox as well as releasing stress, fear, and sadness.

chair2.jpg

Revolved Chair Pose

This pose strengthens your quads and glutes in a major way!   This deep twist is also excellent for aiding digestion as you feel the gentle pressure on your kidneys, liver, and spleen that stimulates the removal of toxins, while toning your abdominal wall.
It stimulates the heart, improving circulation in the blood, respiratory, and lymphatic systems.
Modification: Start in Chair Pose, bringing hands together at your heart. Take a big inhale to lengthen spine, and exhale to twist to the right, taking left elbow outside of right thigh. Inhale to center and exhale to twist to left. Repeat this sequence five times on each side.

dolphin.jpg

Dolphin Pose

This pose really challenges your shoulders, core, and lower leg muscles.  It also helps stimulate the nervous system and promotes and feeling of relaxation.

Tips:  Try to line up your arms parallel to each other with your elbows in line with your wrists.  Squeeze your quads!  Relax your neck and muscles in your face while holding this pose.

locust

Locust Pose

This pose strengthens the entire back of the body, opens the heart, and encourages good posture. The pressure on your abdomen also encourages digestion, which stimulates the release of those things that might be causing you stress.

plow.jpg

Plow Pose

Plow Pose strengthens and stretches the back muscles, aligning the spine and improving your posture, stimulating the abdominal organs, ovaries, bladder, and kidney, and relieving digestive issues. It also increases metabolism and tones the abdominal wall.

supine twist

Supine Twist

A twist will help give you mental clarity, relieve stress and deep tension, and detoxify your entire system by primarily massaging your internal organs, encouraging the elimination of toxins.
When you release your twist, fresh blood and nutrients rush back into your digestive organs, helping nourish and support them. *Stay in Supine Twist for at least five deep breaths, then repeat on other side.*

Try these yoga poses to help promote detoxification, reduce stress, increase flexibility, improve mental clarity and more.  I recommend holding each pose for at least 5 breaths or longer and try your best to be focusing on your breath and body vs being lost in thought.  Good luck-I hope these help!

Simple Ways To Reduce Your Sugar Intake

I just started on the Taste Of Healing’s “The Clean 15 Detox” and it inspired me to offer a few tips to help others cut down on their own sugar consumption.  During this particular detox, I am eliminating all sugar & alcohol, but I think that some people work best by slowly reducing their sugar intake over time.  It’s amazing how good you can feel when you cut down or eliminate it from your daily routine.  (Not to mention ALL of the health benefits!)

These are ways that I have cut down on my sugar consumption in the past and they have worked for me.  Maybe some of these will work for you?  Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Ways to Cut Down On Sugar:

1.  Start your day with a  NO SUGAR ADDED BREAKFAST because starting your day off right sets the tone for the remaining meals.  Examples: hard-boiled eggs and a piece of fruit, grilled veggie omelet, berry & nut butter smoothie, apple & almond butter

2.  Drink sweetened coffee drinks?  Try a flavored coffee bean instead, such as Jim’s Organic HazelnuCoffee which can be found right HERE.  (Seriously-it’s so good!)  Add a splash of unsweetened nut milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

3.  Craving a something sweet? Eat a date (or two) with a tablespoon of almond butter & cinnamon instead of chocolate after dinner.

sugary2

4.  When the 3 p.m. frappe or sugar cravings hit, eat a piece of fruit instead. Even better-pair it with a protein like a handful of nuts!

5.  Grabbing drinks after work or dinner? Instead of tonic water, get the club soda and vodka (duhhhh), and then take note of these 60 tips for healthier boozing.

6.  Cookie craving when you get home from said drinks?  Try to make your own desserts using stevia or honey instead of the white stuff.   Since making my own treats takes time and effort, I find that I eat sweet stuff a lot less often than when I can easily grab store bought stuff from the pantry.

7.  Check your labels and look for these favorite foods that contain more sugar than you think (yep-I see you granola!)

8.  Squeeze one less squirt of ketchup or barbecue sauce on your burger because that sh*t sneaks in a lot of sugar!

This is all about making little changes over time so you don’t overwhelm yourself.  Small adjustments to live a healthier life can lead to BIG improvements over time.

I hope that you found these tips to be helpful!  Please comment if you have found other ways to cut down on sugar that have worked for you.  Reach out HERE if you have any questions!

Naturally Boost Your Metabolism

Metabolism is a term that describes all chemical reactions in your body.  It often is used interchangeably with “metabolic rate”, which is the number of calories you burn.  The higher this is, the more calories and fat you naturally burn off and keep off.  In addition, having a higher metabolism can give you more energy and make you feel better.  Who doesn’t want that?

Here are 7 ways to naturally kick your metabolic rate up so that you can burn more fat:

1.  Eat Protein At Every Meal: Eating protein raises your metabolic rate by 15-30% and can make you feel fuller longer, which can keep you from overeating.  Eating protein also keeps you from losing muscle mass, which is a common side effect of dieting.

2.  Do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): I know you’ve heard this before-intervals of quick and intense bursts of activity during exercise has been proven to help boost your metabolism and burn more fat than steady cardio and it still works long after your workout is over!

3.  Lift Heavy: Having more muscle on your body allows you to naturally burn more calories and fat in any given day.  Lifting heavy weights vs light weights is more effective in helping you increase your muscle mass and improve your metabolic rate.

4.  Drink Green or Oolong Tea: Both of these teas have shown to increase metabolism by 4-5%.  They are low in calories and may help promote weight loss and weight maintenance in certain people.

5.  Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Lack of sleep is linked to a major increase in the link to obesity.  It is also linked to raising blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, increasing your hunger hormones, and decreasing the hormones that make you feel full.

6.  Drink Coffee (yay!): Studies have shown that coffee (like green tea) can boost metabolism up to 11%.

7.  Stand Up More:  Sitting too much is bad for your health and can cause you to gain significant amounts of weight.  (Not to mention the bad effects it has on your heart!)  If you have a desk job-set an alarm every 10 minutes that will remind you to get up, walk around, and get the blood flowing in your body.  (This will also help you refocus and get more energy as you continue working.)_MIR8203

Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Now that it’s finally fall, I’ve been craving the flavors of pumpkin and cinnamon.  I made these bars this weekend, which are actually healthy enough to have for breakfast.   You could replace your usual packaged protein bars with these for a great on-the-go snack option too!

Isabelle helped me make them-another easy recipe to whip up during your busy day!

If you want to make this recipe vegan-sub in a flax egg (1 tbsp group flax + 3 tbsp of water-whisk together and let sit for 15 minutes) and use vegan chocolate chips.

INGREDIENTS

Wet Ingredients
  • ½ cup 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cup gluten free rolled oats
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons gluten free oat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼-1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped
Optional Topping
  • 1 tablespoon vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon pecans, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or greased foil. Set aside.
  1. Add the wet ingredients to a large bowl: pumpkin, coconut oil, maple syrup, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Whisk until well incorporated.
  2. Add the dry ingredients: oats, oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Whisk together until just incorporated, making sure no flour patches remain. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan. Using a rubber spatula, smooth into an even layer. Optionally, press chocolate chips and nuts into the batter.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the edges have browned. Mine took 25 minutes. Allow to cool on a cooling rack for about 1 hour, or until completely cool. Lift out, slice and enjoy!

*Store in an airtight container for up to one week.  Freeze in an airtight container for up to one month & let cool 10-15 minutes before eating.*

No Bake Dark Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Ingredients:
  1. 1 1/2 cups gluten free oat flour (for paleo version sub for 1/2 cup coconut flour)
  2. 1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
  3. 1/4 cup granulated sweetener of choice (I used Stevia but you can try coconut palm sugar)
  4. Pinch sea salt
  5. 1/2 cup almond, cashew, or peanut butter (can sub for any nut butter)
  6. 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  7. 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks/chips
  8. 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  9. Dairy free milk of choice (I used unsweetened Almond milk)
Instructions:No bake cookies2
  1. Line a large plate with baking paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours with the granulated sweetener and sea salt and mix well.
  3. Stir through the melted nut butter and sticky sweetener of choice and mix well- Mixture should be very crumbly. Add the white chocolate chunks and dried cranberries and mix until fully incorporated.
  4. Using a tablespoon at a time, add more dairy free milk until a thick batter is formed.
  5. Using your hands, form into small bite sized balls and press firmly onto the lined plate and press to a cookie shape. Use a fork to cross each cookie. Freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.
Notes
  1. * Coconut flour brands differ. Depending on that you may need significantly more dairy free milk.
  2. Cookies can be left at room temperature but will be soft and fudge like. For firmer cookies, keep refrigerated.

Burn More Fat During Exercise

We all want to know how we can get the most out of our workouts in the shortest amount of time possible.  I’ve never been someone who enjoys exercising for hours a day; I prefer to get in & get a super-effective workout quickly so that I can move on with my day.
Want to get the most out of your workouts and burn more fat during exercise?  The following are ways that you can start burning more calories and increase your lean muscle mass during your workouts, starting today:

1.  Focus On BIG Movements
Multi-joint exercises engage maximum muscle tissue, increase the calories you expend, and raise your metabolism.  These exercises target multiple muscle groups instead of isolated muscle movements.  Examples: squat with shoulder press, lunge hold with bicep curls, push-ups with weighted donkey kicks.

2.  Use Heavier Weights With Shorter Rest Periods
Research shows that training with heavier weight helps raise your metabolism higher & for longer than training with light weights.  Also-researchers from the College of New Jersey reported that people who rested between sets for 30 seconds vs 1-3 minutes burned significantly more calories.

3.  Intensify Your Rest Periods
Instead of sitting around on your bum in between weight lifting sets, try skipping rope or doing a round of mountain climbers.  Doing little “bursts” of cardio in-between your strength moves adds up to serious fat burning and also improves endurance levels!

4.  Perform Fast, Fun Cardio
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been proven to be a way better method for burning fat compared to long, slower paced cardio.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity compared individuals who did steady-state cardio for 40 minutes to those who completed just 20 minutes of HIIT training, both for three times a week. The HIIT group lost a significant amount of body weight and body fat compared to the steady-state group. The steady-state group actually saw a 1 pound increase in fat mass!  Try to choose different forms of cardio-the more variety, the better!  Examples: intervals of sprints, rowing machine, stair stepper, elliptical, bike riding, plyometrics, etc…

_MIR8293-3

Barbells in CLT

If you have questions or would like help in creating a more fat-burning workout routine for yourself, message me HERE.

Healthy Breakfast Cookies

These breakfast cookies are gluten free, dairy free, and can be made nut free and vegan-friendly if desired!  They are full of healthy ingredients but still taste super yummy and can be made ahead of time for quick, on-the-go breakfasts that you can grab as you rush out the door in the morning!

Just a few of the awesome ingredients in this recipe include: pumpkin seeds that are rich in magnesium and antioxidants and are amazing for your brain and help fight cancer.  The flax and Chia seeds provide protein and fiber and the honey is a great sweetener that is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

You really can’t beat the health benefits that comes from these “cookies” and I think you’ll be impressed by the great taste too.

I hope you enjoy them-the Kujo thought they were fantastic!

Total Prep Time: 15 Minutes; Total Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes 8-9 cookies; cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of Gluten-Free Oats
  • ½ cup oat flour*
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, raisins, apricots, or other dried fruit**
  • 1/2 cup of of unsweetened dried coconut flakes (optional)
  • ½ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans OR 1/4 cup of group flax seeds if you want to make it NUT FREE
  • 1 tablespoon Chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large mashed banana or ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 2 tablespoons of almond milk or milk of choice

*You can make your own oat flour by grinding up whole oats in a food processor!

**You can substitute other dried fruit, nuts, cocoa nibs, etc…**

  • breakfast cookie

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl—oats, oat flour, dried cranberries, dried coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, ground walnuts or flaxseed, Chia seeds, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Stir in mashed banana, coconut oil, honey or maple syrup, and almond milk until well blended. Let mixture rest for 4–5 minutes, giving time for Chia and flax to bind everything together.  If your dough has gotten too thick, stir in an additional 1–2 tablespoons milk before scooping out onto your baking sheet.
  3. Measure dough out by the scant ¼ cupful and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or lightly greased).
  4. Bake for 15–18 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden around the edges.
  5. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 2–3 days. Makes 8–9 cookies.

breakfast cookie2

Unplug To Really Connect

 

unplug

In this day and age, we rely so much on electronics that our minds are in a constant state of stimuli.  Most of us are glued to our phones, tablets and computer screens as we race through our busy schedules and endless “to-do” lists, missing out on the life and relationships that are right in front of us.  It’s no wonder our brains and health are suffering from it.  This constant connection to technology can impair focus, decrease energy, increase feelings of depression, promote restlessness and so much more.

I am not going to pretend this isn’t an issue I struggle with myself.  This is why I wanted to write this blog post: to encourage myself and others to get into the habit of unplugging from electronics for a predetermined amount of time each day that would work best for our individual schedules and open ourselves up to be more present and connected to others.

My kids often come into the living room in the evenings and see Brandon and myself glued to our phones much of the time answering emails and responding to texts.  Then we get upset with them when they want to play on their Kindles and watch TV all evening.  Look what example we are setting for them! We are missing out on an opportunity to communicate with each other and enjoy quality time together that we won’t always have as the kids get older.  Just typing this makes me sad . . . but the good news is that I am ready to make a change!

Are you missing out on precious time with your friends or loved ones because you are caught up in the constant need to respond to others with your devices?  Well, you are not alone; most of us are!  The University of Maryland did a study on students unplugging.  They found study participants spent more time with friends and family, got more frequent exercise, and even ate out less often and cooked healthier foods when they reduced time using their devices.  How did these awesome changes occur?  Less screen time left more time for doing more productive, positive activities with their “free” time.

meditation

Here are just a FEW more health benefits that can result from shutting down the devices each day:

It may improve your relationships because unplugging allows more time for person-to-person communication and interpersonal relationships.

It can reduce stress levels.  Researchers from Kansas State University have found that unplugging after work can make a big difference in quality of life, health and happiness.  Researchers found that when people “unplugged” from work related tasks, such as checking work email after hours, they reported feeling fresher and better recharged when beginning work the following day.  For anyone who has ever experienced burnout at work, this isn’t too surprising.  We can only do so much for so long before feeling exhausted, and constantly plugging into our screens doesn’t help matters.  (Another thing yours truly is “guilty” of doing!)

It can improve our mental clarity and attention span.  When we aren’t bombarded with constant alerts and messages, we can focus better at a single task and in turn, help improve our attention and mental alertness.  How often has a loved one asked you a question when you were immersed in something on your phone and you answered him or her without even thinking?  Or not answered them at all?

There are more scientifically proven health benefits that result from shutting down your devices, but you get the picture.  Now how do we apply this to our busy lives?  Here are just a few tips for unplugging in your daily routine:

  1. Schedule it.  Set an alarm that will remind you to shut down and unplug each day and be accountable to someone: a friend, spouse, or child to help remind you.
  2. Clean out & detach.  Delete some social media applications that remind you about every little thing.  Clean out your inbox and unsubscribe from useless daily emails, newsletters, clothing sales, and social media reports.
  3. Practice mindfulness.  Pay attention to what is going on in the present moment; soak it all in.  Notice beauty in detail where you hadn’t before.  For instance, strike up a conversation with the checkout lady or pay a stranger a compliment.  You never know what can come of these new social interactions.  Life is so much more exciting and happier this way-try it and see how your world really does change for the better.

I hope this helps you create an improved quality of life for yourself and the people you love the most.  Living in the now is something we all need more of and I am excited to put this into practice.  Will you unplug with me?

Peach & Blueberry Cobbler

blueberry peach cobblerIt’s peach season here in South Carolina and now is the perfect time to try out this peach & blueberry cobbler for a delicious and not too naughty dessert option.  This recipe uses almond flour instead of bleached, refined flour and honey and fresh fruit instead of white sugar.

It’s great on it’s own but adding a coconut whipped cream as a topping, of course, will make it even yummier.  Just keep in mind that you are making a healthier dessert so dousing this in ice cream defeats the purpose!  (Check out the recipe for easy coconut whipped cream below but you have to pre-chill the can of full fat coconut milk if you decide to make this topping.)

I hope you like it!

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients
For the filling:
  • 5 cups peaches (sliced)
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 3 – 4 tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you like it-I used 4)
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (not required, but will help thicken the juices)
For the topping:
  • 1½ cups of almond flour
  • ¼ cup of melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients for the filling and gently toss (hands work great)
  3. Lightly grease pan with butter or coconut oil.
  4. Pour into an 8 in. by 8 in. baking pan.
  5. In a small bowl mix together all the ingredients for the topping and then spread evenly over the top of the filling mixture.
  6. Bake until the topping is slightly golden (about 35-40 minutes)
  7. Spoon in out into a bowl or plate and enjoy! Will be messy, but will taste delicous!!  *Optional toppings: coconut whipped cream which you can find a recipe for right HERE (you just have to chill the coconut milk 6-8 hrs prior to whipping!)