Health – it’s more than just diet

 

Healthy relationships have a huge impact on our health and, I find, the stronger the relationships, the better your health becomes.

This past weekend was Easter weekend and my husband and I always try to get the family together. Sometimes this includes not only our immediate family but my sister, her fiancé and her two kids and his two kids. This Easter we decided to just have immediate family and combine 2 birthday celebrations (one in March and one in April) as well as celebrate Easter on Saturday.

I do need to mention we have a large family. I bring to the family 3 grown sons, 2 daughters-in-law, one significant girlfriend, 2 grandsons and 2 granddaughters. My husband brings to the family 2 grown sons and 1 grown daughter, 1 soon to be daughter-in-law, 1 granddaughter and 1 grandson. We never have less than 15 people for dinner at any given time and we relish it.

I know some people get very anxious when having parties at their homes. The cleaning beforehand, worrying about having enough seating, deciding the menu (one is Vegetarian, 2 are doing the Whole30), grocery shopping, making sure you have everything you need for Easter baskets for the kids, do you have enough wine, etc. But for me, I just LOVE it! I don’t freak out about the menu anymore, I used to but not any longer…in my opinion, if I burn the meal, we order a pizza and still have just as much fun. For me, it’s all about spending time with my big, crazy family. Watching my son’s become amazing Daddies fills my heart with so much joy. Seeing the grandkids play together, seeing that both families get along so well – I get emotional and try to soak up every moment they’re all with us. And trust me, it can get kind of crazy.

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But what I’ve learned over the years is, getting together with family isn’t about the plates you use or if they even match, how clean your house is or the food you’re serving. It’s about spending quality time with everyone, laughing and listening, hugs and kisses, crawling on the floor chasing a ball, blowing bubbles or picking dandelions in the yard. There’s so much to be thankful for.

Family is a huge part of how I define living a healthy lifestyle.

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So when your goal is to live a healthier life, don’t forget that being healthy involves more than just the food on your plate or the exercise you’re getting. Ask yourself, “how are my relationships?”

Chocoholics Rejoice!

Everyone loves chocolate – right? I know I do and over the years, my taste buds have gone from loving anything off the shelf at a grocery store (Snickers, Hershey’s Chocolate) to more of the dark chocolate obsession. Anything 70% Dark Cacao or higher and I’m in LOVE! Ever wonder why we love chocolate so much?

According to a recent study by psychologist David Lewis, letting chocolate dissolve slowly in your mouth produces as big an increase in brain activity and heart rate as a passionate kiss—but the effects of the chocolate last four times longer! Trust science to tell us things we already know! Don’t get me wrong, I adore kissing my guy but chocolate?!?

Actually, scientists have been trying to understand the chemistry of chocolate for years. Although there are several hundred different chemicals in your typical slab, a handful of them seem to be more important than others in making chocolate taste so good. Among the most important are stimulants including theobromine, phenylethylamine, and caffeine (in very small amounts). Researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California say chocolate also contains a feel-good chemical called anandamide, which is found naturally in the brain, and is similar to another one called anandamide THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in marijuana. WHAT?? Normally anandamide is broken down quite quickly after it is produced, but the San Diego chemists think the anandamide in chocolate makes the natural anandamide in our brain persist for longer—in other words, giving us a longer-lasting “chocolate high.” So while chocolate does not contain the same active chemicals as marijuana, there is some similarity in the effect that both substances have on our brains.

Enough about science and research – we ALL love chocoloate so I was thrilled when I found this smoothie recipe that not only is good for you, but the chocolate flavor is WOW! It’s like having dessert for breakfast!

CRAZY DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE SMOOTHIE

  • 1 C full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 frozen avocado
  • 2T of your favorite nut butter (I use homemade almond butter)
  • 1T chia seeds
  • 2tsp raw, organic cacao powder
  • 1T coconut oil
  • ice – optional, but I used it because my avocado wasn’t frozen
  • sprinkle of cinnamon on top and/or cacao nibs

Add everything into a blender and blend until blended completely.

The health benefits of this smoothie are abundant; chock full of antioxidants, magnesium, polyphenols, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B5, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and more (and this is just from the avocado!) Coconut oil; 3 healthy fatty acids – caprylic, lauric and capric acids…science is starting to uncover all the health benefits for coconut oil and much, much more!

If you love this recipe, please share my blog with everyone you know, I’d love to hear what you think. Would you change any of the ingredients? If so, what? Let’s learn from each other.

ENJOY!

 

I was PISSED!

You all know I’m kind of a health nut…I always have been. I eat healthy, I exercise (and need to do it more frequently) which also makes me self-aware 😉 and do my very best to take care of myself daily.

So, about a year ago when I bumped into a woman at a local Chamber event who told me all about the beauty industry and how we go, unknowingly, day after day, thinking everything we use on our skin is safe for us – I was shocked and quite frankly, PISSED! How did I not know that the United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938?!?!?

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And then I learned this – There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today. Many don’t have any safety data – WHAT??? This is particularly true of those used in the skin care and beauty industry. OMG!!

What’s worse is that the Food and Drug Administration (the agency that regulates cosmetics in the United States) allows companies to use chemicals known to be extremely harmful in the products we put on our bodies and on our kids’ bodies every single day, day after day, and to make their own judgments about safety.

It was interesting, talking to her, I almost wished I hadn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I value information so that I can make an educated decision on how I’m going to live my life, what I’m going to put in my body, etc. but have you ever heard the phrase, ‘you can’t unlearn what you’ve learned?’ That’s how I felt after talking with her!! My head was spinning with anger. Anger at myself for not educating myself on the beauty and personal care industry. I knew better, didn’t I? I knew that when you put sunscreen on your body, within a matter of 12 minutes, if tested, they can find traces of that sunscreen in your urine. I knew that! Why had I turned a blind eye on this information?

Needless to say, I joined the Beautycounter team immediately, I didn’t have to think twice. Yes, I already had a full-time job. Yes, I was crazy busy with my family, juggling my business along with helping with an aging parent, planning our wedding in our own backyard, etc. but because I have always believed our health IS our greatest asset…how could I not sign up??

Today, I’m still working as Business Development for a small company, attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition getting my Health Coach Certification, and working with Beautycounter. Yep, I’m still dealing with an aging parent, running her to doctor appointments, helping with my children and my beautiful grandchildren (when I can) along with everything else life throws my way but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m here to help people understand just how important what you put ON your body is as important as what you put IN your body. I’m determined to leave a lasting legacy of health and well-being.

Check us out, you may be shocked to learn what you may not know but also pleasantly surprised to see what Beautycounter is up to – in the name of health. http://www.wellawarebylinda.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragging my butt, need protein STAT!

I woke up this morning dragging my butt! I’m attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and will graduate at the end of 2017 with a Health Coach Certification. And, I am LOVING IT but I studied all weekend. Actually, it was an on-line live event so at least I was in my pajamas all weekend – no complaints here. But, it was 8 hours on Saturday and another 8 hours on Sunday so this morning came way too quickly for me.

As I dragged my butt to the kitchen for breakfast I quickly realized I was out of Almond Butter – WHAT??? And there was no way I was getting dress, driving to the store and buying an over-priced jar of ‘who knows what’s inside’. Time to make homemade! It’s so French toast easy – yes, that’s my way of using the F word.  And better yet, it tastes so much better than store bought!

Want to know how? Don’t worry, it’s only 3 simple steps, a 5 year old can do this.

Go into your pantry and grab your raw, organic almonds, spread them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 10-12 minutes. Within 8-10 minutes you’ll start to smell this rich, nutty smell and your belly will start to growl.

Take the almonds out and let them cool but not for too long, you’ll want all their natural oils to shine through. Throw them into your Vita Mix or food processor – either one works just as well, and blend on slow to medium. Don’t get frustrated or impatient; this process takes more than 10 minutes or longer. While the Vita Mix is doing its thing, grab yourself a cup of coffee and start imagining how you’ll be bragging to your friends about making this delicious yumminess.

All of a sudden, magic happens and the almonds go from being crushed, powdery almonds to rich, creamy almond butter. Now, this is next step is critical so pay close attention…dip a spoon in and taste it while it’s still warm…OMG!!! It’s Ah-mazing! You can add anything to it you’d like or leave it as is. Sometimes I add cinnamon, sometimes just a dash of sea salt.

This delicious yummy goodness will stay fresh in your refrigerator for a few weeks but trust me, it won’t last that long. Your kids will gobble it up by the spoonful. You’ll catch your husband dipping his finger in like he’s doing something wrong. Ok, that was MY husband 😉

So are you ready to try making homemade almond butter? If you do, post a pick of you in the process, I’d love to hear how it goes!!

Be A Good-Deed Doer

Everyone has heard of the power of paying it forward. Just the other day I was checking out at the grocery store with two items in my hand, Kombucha (no surprise there) and a healthy power bar (again…no surprise, were you thinking Fritos??) and the woman in front of me, who had a cart full, let me go in front of her. I said, “thank you, that’s very kind” and she replied, “don’t forget to pay it forward.” Ah…a good-deed doer!!

What I didn’t realize was all the benefits this has on the recipients as well as the good-deed doer.

Here are 7 Scientific Facts about doing good deeds:

  1. Doing good decreases stress
  2. Doing good increases life-expectancy…I especially liked this one!
  3. Doing good makes us feel better
  4. Doing good makes us happier at work and less likely to want to kill someone 😉
  5. Doing good promotes mental health
  6. Doing good leads to happiness and a more positive outlook
  7. Doing good motivates you to doing good again – it’s as addicting as Easter Peeps!

For me, as I went in front of the lady who’s shopping cart was over-flowing, I smiled inside and out for the rest of the day 😁.

My 1st attempt with Nori

My journey at Institute for Integrative Nutrition, studying for my Health Coach Certification continues and I am loving it. We’re learning so much about all the different types of diets available out there. IIN really encourages experimentation to find out what your individual body’s likes and needs are as well as how to listen to what your body doesn’t necessarily need or like.  We call this ‘bio-individuality’. One man’s food is another man’s poison. This rings true with me – while I might love to eat an entire bowl of steamed broccoli for lunch, you may think to yourself NO WAY, knowing broccoli gives you gas. I get it.

One of our speakers talked with the class about the benefits of sea plants and not having had much experience at all with this, I went to the store and bought nori.

Nori is a type of edible seaweed and before you turn up your nose or say “ew” you’ve probably eaten nori if you’ve ever tried sushi. And if you’re not a sushi fan, but have eaten vegetable rolls at a sushi restaurant, you’ve probably eaten Nori. And, if you haven’t tried nori – give it a shot!

Nori is loaded with B vitamins. According to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Nori contants significant amounts of vitamin B12. In fact, the researchers involved in the study wrote that Nori is THE best source of vitamin B12, especially for strict vegetarians and vegans. Nori also contains significant amounts of Iodine. Iodine deficiency can cause serious health problems including hypothyroidism and enlargement of the thyroid gland; this according to the American Thyroid Association. Luckily, a study published by the FDA stated that edible seaweeds such as nori are good sources of dietary iodine because they accumulate significant amounts of iodine from seawater. A recent study by the Thyroid Research found that iodine intake from edible seaweeds in Japan is amount the highest globally. It’s rich in unsaturated fatty acids, and contains a bunch of other great nutrients which play important roles in the body’s ability to utilize fats as well as nourish brain cells.

If you research the health benefits of nori further, you’ll find it’s a pretty amazing edible.

So, after I learned some of the health benefits, I decided to try my hand at a nori roll, sans the sushi. I bought Eden brand Sushi Nori from my local Whole Foods but you can just as easily order it on Amazon. Amazon Eden Nori Sheets When you open the package, it’s like you’ve stepped out onto the beach at the ocean. It has a serious seawater smell which could dissuade you, but don’t let it. The taste, to me anyway, is much milder than the actual smell.

I made homemade guacamole (you’ll find I make guac quite a lot as it’s one of my all-time fave’s), and spread the guac on the nori sheet. I then layered thinly sliced carrots, radish and radish sprouts (they have a peppery, crunchy goodness) and rolled it up! While I probably won’t get hired anytime soon as a sushi chef, I think I did ok. And, it was a very interesting lunch indeed. Will nori become my ‘go to’ for lunches in the future, probably not but it sure was fun giving it a try!

Have you tried your hand with nori? What did you make? Have you ever eaten something completely foreign to you? I’d love to hear your feedback.

What diet is truly right for you?

I’ve learned so much this week about diets and dietary theories! There are thousands upon millions of diet books out in the marketplace today; The Fast Metabolism Diet, The Lose Your Belly Diet, Dash Diet, The Case Against Sugar Diet, Super Shred Diet, Body Reset Diet, The Negative Calorie Diet, The New Atkins For The New You Diet, are you confused yet? Because I can do this all day…

The truth is, there are a lot of great, nutritious diet plans out there and the trick is to find which one works for you. And, to realize, it may work for you today, but 6 months from now, your body may need something different. We call this Bio-Individuality. One person’s food is another person’s poison. The fact is, men eat differently than women. Teens eat differently than older people. Very young children need more food than someone in their 60’s, etc. Here’s another example, you can’t tell a construction worker who’s on the go for 8-10 hours a day that fasting is right for him. It may be – but you get the idea. There is no ‘perfect diet’.

One area of nutrition that, at this point, fascinates me is Macrobiotics. Macrobiotics, with its brown rice, beans, sea vegetables, and Asian yin-yang philosophy of finding balance in life for health and vitality, was the original counterculture diet back in the ’60s. It’s actually been around much longer than that.

A macrobiotic diet isn’t just about your weight – it’s about achieving balance in your life. It promotes a healthier, more holistic long-term lifestyle for men, women, and children that encompass mental outlook as well as food choices. Macrobiotic dieters are encouraged to eat regularly, chew their food extremely well, listen to their bodies, stay active, and maintain a positive mental outlook. And eat real food. By real, I mean food that comes from nature, in its simplest form. This makes sense to me! Here’s an example of an unbalanced life; over the past few years, when my husband would come home from work, he’d start to raid the fridge and/or the pantry, looking for and eating anything that looked remotely appetizing. He would continually say “I’ve got to lose weight” but then go on his eating spree. I finally told him, “I don’t think you have an eating disorder, I think you have a career disorder” which started a whole other conversation that we can get into later.  The fact is, he wasn’t really hungry, he was just stressed. And eating made him feel better for a short period of time but terrible about himself and his weight long-term. He needed a balanced life, which I’m happy to report he’s embracing.

On my macrobiotic learning quest, I started reading the benefits of wheatgrass. Here are just a few of the health benefits of wheatgrass:

Wheatgrass juice is an effective healer because it contains all minerals known to man, and Vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, I and K. It is extremely rich in protein (who knew!) and contains 17 amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Wheatgrass juice contains up to 70% chlorophyll, which is an important blood builder. I’m feeling healthier just telling you about it 😉

So, this morning, I took the challenge and made my own wheatgrass shot! I bought a package of fresh wheatgrass at my local health food store. Put some wheatgrass and just a bit of filtered water in my Magic Bullet and blended it for about 1 minute. Put that through a strainer and voila – Linda’s very own wheatgrass shot! I liked the taste and loved the smell! It reminded me of the first few weeks of Summer and freshly cut grass. I encourage you to try it and tell me what you think.

What diets have you tried that worked and made you feel great? That didn’t work? I’d love to hear from you. Cheers to your own path!

 

What’s lurking in your household cleaner?

I just love finding new, safe and healthy alternatives to what I’m currently using either in my home or on my body. Have you ever looked under your sink at the ingredients of some of your usual household cleaners? Or worse yet, checked the EWG site to find out if what you’re using is healthy or toxic? Eek!

We’ll talk about EWG – Environmental Working Group in another blog. You’re going to LOVE them!

A few weeks ago, I decided to take a closer look at what I was using and I was shocked to uncover what I did. The truth of the matter is, if you’re concerned about your health and helping the environment, your toxic household cleaners will likely be the first to get the boot! And for good reason. The household cleaning industry is largely unregulated and companies aren’t required to include ingredient lists for cleaning products. Go ahead, take a look…I’ll wait here J

I know what you saw on your household cleaner labels, lots of sunshine, butterflies and smiling faces, right?

Companies take full advantage of that lack of regulations to make false claims about their cleaning products and to include toxic chemicals in their products without letting the consumer know. It’s hard to know just how bad these chemical concoctions really are for your health and the environment.

That’s why the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research organization known for its personal care product database, has created a new database that includes more than 2,000 household cleaners. The EWG ranks the cleaners based on how hazardous their ingredients are and how much information they include on their labels.

Here’s just one of their Hall of Shame Cleaners – Scrubbing Bubbles. I, personally, was so disappointed because their brand mascot, the smiling, scrubbing sponge, is so darned likeable. Likeable to look at, yes, good for your system – NO! This product contains chemicals banned in the European Union including DEGBE, which can and does irritate and inflame your lungs. The EU bans this chemical in household cleaners in concentrations above 3%. This product contains up to 10%.

So here are just a few simple, nontoxic solutions for your home. These are all safe and cheap! And, you probably have all the ingredients to make your own cleaners in your home.

FRESH LEMON – Lemons help get rid of water stains and increase shine. Simply cut one in half, rub it on your sink and shower faucets and admire the shine.

BAKING SODA – Baking soda can be used as a nontoxic scouring agent for scrubbing your sinks, bathtubs and shower floors.

WHITE VINEGAR – One of nature’s best antibacterial and antiviral agents, white vinegar can be used for various cleaning needs. Simply mix one part vinegar with three parts water for a simple countertop spray, or place ¼ cup in toilets for an effective routine cleaning.