Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is Stress making us fat?

pillarsoffitnesssuccessIs stress making us fat?

 

Within our support group Strong Confident Living, we believe that a lot of a healthy lifestyle begins with a healthy mindset, “It starts between the ears,” Scott St John co-Founder says.

 

According to current research, reducing daily stress and focusing on mindful eating can help to reduce belly fat.

Maybe we should be adding managing chronic stress strategies along with “getting back to the gym”, “cutting out added sugar” for lifestyle changes to pursue?

Continued research presents that psychological distress and elevated cortisol secretion promote abdominal fat. Belly fat is not just unsightly, but is also linked to oxidative stress, inflammation, shorter telomeres which has a direct affect on the aging of our cells, and greater risk of chronic disease.

 

What technically is “stress”?

The definition of stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances”. Stress can be experienced chemically, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

 

Experiencing feelings of stress isn’t all bad; in fact, stress is a necessary survival technique. In short bursts, acute stress acts as a protective “fight-or-flight” response. For example, having to brake quickly in response to something while driving utilizes our fight response. On the other hand, chronic stress, experienced directly or observed, can be hazardous to the mind and body. Increased concentrations of the circulating stress hormone cortisol is linked to a variety of metabolically related disorders, including metabolic syndrome, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Consistent elevation of cortisol can potentially disturb the immune system and can even become toxic to the brain.  

 

Stress can also indirectly affect heart health through damaging behavioral habits such as smoking, physical inactivity, heavy alcohol consumption, and poor diet. Unfortunately, eating sweet and fatty foods tends to be one of the preferred choices for most of us when it comes to dealing with chronic stress, which can actually add to physical stress on our bodies. All of this provides reasoning to pursue lifestyle stress management.  If the chronic stress cycle never ends, we must notice what causes it and interrupt the cycle ourselves.

Dr. Beth Westie, an expert in Health and Nutrition, suggests tracking how frequently we enter stress mode and taking note of what onsets it. “The more we become aware of what causes stress, we can begin to break the cycle and develop strategies [to prevent it],” she says.

 

There are many easy activities you can incorporate into your daily life to help shift your focus and your mindset when you begin to feel stress. First, focus on what can you take direct control of: this may be incorporating the use of stress-modulating herbs called adaptogens into your diet, participating in an exercise program you enjoy, a spa treatment, cooking a meal you love, or simply turning off your phone for an hour.

relax

Whatever your stress relieving activity is, schedule it into your calendar at least once a week.  It is crucial to make room in your routine for important self-care tasks, like you would with a doctor or dentist appointment. Dedicating time throughout your week to self-care routines will improve the consistency of your actions.

Dr. Beth also mentions that men and women experience stress differently. Due to women’s monthly cycles, their endocrine system needs proper time to heal from the stress. It may take longer than you expect to recoup, and special attention to self-care is crucial to overall health.

New findings published in the Journal of Obesity suggest that combining a technique called mindful eating with stress management can help reduce cortisol levels and the resulting belly fat. The most effective mindful eating practices are paying attention to the physical feelings of hunger, identifying cravings, sensation of fullness, and taste satisfaction so you fully enjoy your eating experience and feel satisfied about how you have fueled your body.

References:

Daubenmier J, Kristeller J, Hecht FM et al. Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study. J Obes 2011;2011:651936. doi: 10.1155/2011/651936

Daubenmier J, Lin J, Blackburn E et al. Changes in stress, eating, and metabolic factors are related to changes in telomerase activity in a randomized mindfulness intervention pilot study. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2011. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.10.008

http://www.drbethwestie.com/

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2011/651936/

http://www.isagenixhealth.net/how-to-avoid-catching-contagious-stress/

http://www.isagenixhealth.net/how-to-not-stress-over-cortisol/

http://www.isagenixhealth.net/how-stress-affects-your-heart/

http://www.isagenixhealth.net/less-belly-fat-and-healthier-telomeres-by-reducing-stress-and-eating-mindfully/

Stop Counting Calories !

You’ve probably heard it 100 times. Calories in vs. calories out is the magical weight loss equations. Yet, we all know how daunting and unpractical tracking calories can feel and recent research shows the method to be about 25% inaccurate.

If fat loss and or muscle gain are part of your health and wellness goals; I want to introduce two concepts : 1) Mindful eating practices and 2) quality over quantity.  Both are simple and the key is building the habits. Habits create results.

mindful-eating

Let’s discuss the most effective mindful eating practices:  

  • Paying attention to the physical feelings of hunger. Are you physiologically hungry and actually in need  of nutrition? Or are you psychologically hungry and experiencing cravings of food because your thirsty, stressed or bored? 
  • Identifying cravings. This is your body communicating with you and could be indicating you need a specific nutrient. Example:  Craving salty foods like pickles or chips could mean you need to replenish sodium and/or electrolytes. Try adding ConcenTrace Mineral drops to your water, or make your own kale chips for a healthy snack. Craving onions could mean you need more sulfur in your diet for liver function. Chocolate cravings often indicate that your body is deficient in magnesium, which is a common deficiency. You can try adding mineral drops to your water and if you’re going to eat chocolate try adding cocoa powder to you smoothie, or dark chocolate as your 15% fun. 
  • Sensation of fullness. Also known as satiety. Having fiber, balanced protein and healthy fats as part of your meals and snacks will help you feel full after eating.
  • Taste satisfaction. Enjoying the food you eat is important for your body to get the most nutrition for your cells. Clean eating doesn’t have to be boring!  Explore new spices, fresh herbs and seasonings. New recipes will excite your meal planning. 
  • Gratitude. Take a moment before you consume your meal to think what it took to get from farm to table. It is recommended we chew our food 20-30 times before swallowing. Focus on feeling satisfied about how you have chosen to fuel your body.

 

QUALITY VS. QUANTITY

simple6mealplan

In our Facebook community Strong.Confident.Living we practice the Simple Six meal plan, involving 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day. We focus on eating quality nutritionally dense foods and making sure we look ahead throughout the day and week to plan accordingly.  For portioning your proteins, carbohydrates, and fats per meal I suggest using your hands for reference instead of a scale.

Generally speaking, a serving of protein is the size of your palm. A serving of vegetables is the size of your fist. A serving of carbohydrates is one cupped hand. Lastly, a serving of healthy fats is the size of your thumb. Men and women nutritional demands vary for many reasons. Most men can have two servings of protein, two servings of veggies and one serving of the other food groups per meal. Another important concept: choose colorful whole foods fresh from the farmers market or grocery store to build your meals.

Try adding a serving of healthy fat and protein to your usual snack to provide a sensation of fullness. Add almond butter to a quarter of an apple or banana, combine almonds with cottage cheese, or mix quinoa and diced almonds with roasted beets.

Seems easy, right? Eating clean and understanding what and why is easy.  Actually doing it consistently long term is the hard part. Pay attention to the words and thoughts you have about nutrition.

Let’s address our mindset and accomplish your health goals! Join my 30 day Reset Fitness, Mindset and Nutrition group for more resources, goal setting and accountability today!

 

 

References:

Daubenmier J, Kristeller J, Hecht FM et al. Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study. J Obes 2011;2011:651936. doi: 10.1155/2011/651936

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/calorie-control-guide-infographic

 

 

 

The Journey of Loving yourself

This blog is extremely personal. I want to bare my soul in regards to my body and mind transformation process with all of you.

Before I start, I’d like to ask you: What drives your food decisions? Why do you eat certain foods? I

Is it out of fear of something? Fear of gaining weight? It is emotionally driven?

or Is it because you’ve learned about specific nutrients that your body needs and enjoy the process of fueling yourself with healthy choices?

 

My personal development and weight loss journey has not been easy. I’ve been learning about my body, fitness and nutrition since I was 16  years old. I had always struggled with body image acceptance and loving myself for how I am. I grew up overweight, with braces, headgear, and acne. Middle and high school were very rough years for me.

 

IMG_3603.JPG

Before photos: Bottom photo age about 15, my deepest darkest year. Top right age 14.

Top left I am about 16 or 17 years old & this is within my first few months of beginning to workout. I developed an eating disorder termed “non-purging bulimia” where I purged in the form of over exercising at least twice a day. I was taking ephedrine pills, forging notes to get out of school early to work out. I wrote down everything I ate and only allowed certain foods at certain times, if I missed the window, I wasn’t allowed the food.

Here are two short sections from my essay written freshman year of college 2003

“My eighth grade year was my all time worst. This was when I was the biggest of my fat stage. I had grown to the size of 14/15, and felt like I was the biggest girl in my grade. Boys in my Earth Science class would call me names, make me put my head down in tears and not want to show my face until the end of class. One boy told me that if I died he would throw a party and everybody would come. This struck me so hard and it later led me into making one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. The emptiness and hatred I felt inside was unforgettable.  I got braces the spring of eighth grade and those made me feel uglier than ever.  I would look at myself in the mirror, smile, and then cringe at the site of the metal junk that covered my teeth.  My self-esteem had reached rock bottom.”

“I started playing soccer for my school and working out regularly. I lost my weight over the years, and by senior year I was the size I had always pictured and dreamed of being. One thing was still missing: satisfaction. I would still look at myself and still see that “fat girl” that everyone used to call me. I would workout harder and harder and eat less and less trying to conquer my weight situation and still I would never feel satisfied. I would go to stores, find a pair of jeans, try them on and look into the mirror. In disbelief, I would still look extremely fat. The pain inside was still there. The disappointment every time I looked into the mirror was still there. My distorted body image of myself will probably never change. The torture of the students throughout my middle school and beginning of my high school career will always stick with me.

As a person, I am still affected by my early years. My self esteem still suffers. I still find myself comparing my body to other girls’ at the gym. I continue to look into the mirror and criticize myself. I truly believe I will never be fully satisfied with my body image. Whether or not it was the ridicule from my fellow classmates, or my own self not accepting my body structure, it is a personal situation I will have to live with for the rest of my life.”

 

I carried these obsessive eating, exercise and negative self talk habits to college with me. Not until end of freshman year, when I began an intro to Nutrition class-did I realize how fear driven all my actions where. This revelation also inspired me to become a certified personal trainer- my thought: if I wasn’t eating correctly I probably wasn’t exercising the right way either.

I had turned a new leaf. Motivated through the desire for knowledge I applied it to my current dedication and this is where things began to blossom.

 

The three biggest influences in my development would be learning the art of hoop dance, receiving an educating in biochemistry of human metabolism and finding the Isagenix nutritional super food system.

When I was 20 years old, my mother gifted me the hula hoop. That was a huge blessing and awakening for my confidence and believe in oneself. Once I mastered the motion of keeping it going around my waist, I begin to watch YouTube videos and the obsession was clear. Learning new trick after new trick and connecting with the community allowed for me to fall in love with what my body was capable of doing for me. Now at age 32, I’m on stage in little britches and tops, feeling confident and rocking audiences. It’s incredible to witness honestly. I feel a since of a pride- and coupled with pride seems a bit of shame. Where does that come from? What story has me telling myself that its embarrassing to be proud? I’m grateful for The Healthy Mind and Body mindset coaching program I went through that helped me find this self limiting belief around sense of Pride.

Now, I feel confident to declare: I am SO proud of myself for my accomplishments with the hula hoop and as a performer! and with this statement I hope to give you permission to be proud of your accomplishments as well.

3hoopsPlayground.jpg

Second largest influence was receiving the education in Foods and Nutrition. Through understanding food and how the body processes specific macro-nutrients for specific activities, I learned how to eat foods that work for my body type and activity level. Now food is not the enemy but one of my favorite things to do several times a day. Mindful eating practices such as slowing down and chewing each bit 20-30 times and practicing gratitude for all the effort that went into creating the meal.

mealprep

 

The most recent influence on my journey to loving oneself is the introduction of Isagenix super foods and the Healthy Mind and Body Coaching program.  I’ve been on the products for over a year and 3 months and I am so grateful to Laura and Scott St John for sharing them with me.  The no compromise quality nutrition provided in their shakes and bars have help me maintain my daily protein requirements and reduce the amount of meat I am consuming. Also the nutritional cleansing aspect has help me reduce my BF % and have body confidence like never before! The Healthy Mind and Body program helps empower the mind and achieve your visions by:

  • Habit-forming process designed for long term healthy success
  • Identify patterns holding you back from your ideal health
  • Intelligent, simple, and important daily activities that, if done everyday for 15 minutes, are guaranteed to change your life forever

img_6362-1

It wasn’t easy, it took a lot of time, patience, self-compassion, guidance from my mentors, and lots of education. It is possible to re-frame how you view yourself, life and your body. It is possible. You are capable. The beginning might be the hardest part, but if you reach out for support and make sure you remain compassionate with yourself I believe you can achieve whatever your heart desires.

 

 

Introducing MoonCakes-High Iron Pancakes

FullSizeRender (1)

MmMMm Moon Cakes!

I’ve been exploring gluten-free pancake recipes and I have developed one I must share with the world!

These are perfect for that time of the month! High in Iron, packed with fiber, loaded with protein and healthy fats.

Teff Flour is highly nutritious whole grain flour made from the smallest grain in the world. It’s a very good source of dietary fiber, protein and iron! It has been a nourishing staple of highland Ethiopians.

Makes 25 small pancakes Serves 4-6

  • 1 1/2 c Bob’s Red Mill Teff Flour
  • 2 T flax seed
  • 1 scoop Bob’s Red Mill chocolate chia protein powder
  • 1 1/2 c coconut milk
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 T baking power
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon

Grind flax seed in a blender until powdery. Add banana, coconut milk, vanilla, honey and 1/2 teaspoon oil. Blend well. In a large mixing bowl, put teff flour, baking powder, sea salt and cinnamon. Stir in banana milk mixture.

Place the griddle or skillet over medium heat. After a minute or 2 brush on one teaspoon of oil. Using a tablespoon scoop the batter and pour it on the hot griddle. One heaping tablespoon for each pancake. Cook each pancake for 3-4 min on the first side or until you see the tiny holes forming. Flip them and cook for another minute or two.

Serve plain, drizzle honey, use your favorite peanut butter or maple syrup!

Yum! Please enjoy and share 🙂

 

 

 

Favorite Late Summer Recipe

Paleo Zucchini Fritters Recipe

Prep time:  30 mins

Cook time:  15 mins

Total time:  45 mins

Serves: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini, shredded (about 5 cups)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, optional
  • coconut oil or ghee for cooking

Instructions

  1. Shred the zucchini using a box grater or a food processor fitted with a shredding blade. Put the shredded zucchini in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and toss well. Walk away for 10 minutes.
  2. Now it’s time to squeeze all the moisture out of the zucchini because nobody likes soggy fritters. Note: If you’re really salt sensitive, you may want to rinse the zucchini with water, then squeeze it out. Scoop up a generous handful of the zucchini and squeeze the living daylights out of them into a sink or bowl. You want them dry. Place in a different bowl.
  3. Add the coconut flour, egg and pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Melt a large spoonful of ghee or coconut oil in the pan. Pack a ¼ cup measuring cup with the zucchini mixture, pressing it down inside the cup. Turn the cup out onto the pan and flatten the zucchini until you get a patty. You can also use a disher or just eyeball it. I fit about 4 or 5 in a large skillet at one time.
  5. Cook each side for 3 to 5 minutes or until nicely browned. Repeat until you‘ve used up all the zucchini mixture. Be sure to add more ghee or coconut oil to the pan each time you start a new batch.
  6. Cool on a cooling rack so they don’t get soggy.

Notes

Add garlic powder or onion powder to the mix.

Sprinkle with freshly chopped chives or parsley.

Serve with a homemade dipping sauce like Lemony Chive Paleo Mayo.

Resource:

http://stupideasypaleo.com/2015/03/28/paleo-zucchini-fritters/

-The Importance of Music during a Workout-

Since aerobic dance was introduced in the early 70’s, it has been thought that exercise accompanied with music can enhance your overall workout experience. Listening to music while you exercise may improve your fitness, commitment, and enjoyment. According to doctors and researchers, you can increase your motivation and concentration and decrease your conscious effort when you exercise by simply adding great music to your work out. Studies have shown that listening to music during exercise can improve results, both in terms of being a motivator (people exercise longer and more vigorously to music) and as a distraction from negatives like fatigue. Researches revealed that more positive affect of a workout is observed during the music condition in comparison to the ‘no music’ condition. Here are some benefits of playing music while working out:

  • Music diverts a person’s attention in repetitive exercises thus the feeling of fatigue, exhaustion and boredom are evaded.
  • Music can reduce the factors contributing to pain, tension, anxiety and discomfort.
  • Music can act as a stimulant which can increase your performance. Respiration and cardiac rate is increased from music. This can help you intensify your workout.
  • The body movement to rhythm of music increases levels of output.
  • The rhythmical qualities can follow the physical skills and can improve motor skills. Swimming and gymnastics are good examples of this.
  • Physical strength can also be attributed with type of music. Sedative music decreases muscular potential training ability. Fast stimulating music can increase in muscle tension.
  • It promotes a positive mood and avoids any kind of negative thoughts.
  • It can make a workout fun, interesting and something to look forward too.

Match yourworkout intensity with beats per minute!

Pace Running/Cardio/Conditioning Walking Stretching/CoolDown
Slower 140-150 BPM 100-110 BPM 80-100 BPM
Moderate 150-160 BPM 110-125 BPM 100-110 BPM
Fast 160-175 BPM 125-135 BPM 110-125 BPM

Everyone is different, let me know what’s your favorite!

Nike launched a campaign asking “What is your POWERSONG?” That one song that can help you survive any workout. What is yours? Here is an interesting list of 25 top songs.

http://www.muscleandfitness.com/features/edge/25-greatest-power-songs-all-time

What is on your workout playlist?

Sources:

http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/musicexercise.html

Jane Schwartz Harrison, RD, Staff Nutritionist, myOptumHealth

LifeMojo Team / March 14, 2009