I hope this year has been a terrific one already. January is drawing to a close (already?!) but not before I leave you with this month’s articles and recipes. Enjoy them, and may you find many ways to apply them to your new lifestyle habits!

Articles

Yoga-inspired Dynamic Warm-up

20-minute Calorie-burning HIIT Workout

Little Black Dress Workout

Boost Your Workout with Metabolic Drills

Top Exercises to Gain Thoracic Mobility

Does Exercise Order Really Matter?

Diabetes and Exercise: What Every Fitness Professional Should Know

The Physiology of Fat Loss

Cold Winter Temps Trigger Brown Fat Burning

Improving Chronic Neck Pain with Pilates

Pilates and Chronic Lower Back Pain

Pilates for Larger Bodies

Sun Salutations Solutions

Seniors and Self-myofascial Release

Stretching for Men

Sleep: Fueling Brain and Body

Laughter, Brain Fitness, and Older Adults

The Skinny on Happiness

The Mental Aspects of Chronic Pain

Bust Out of a Food Rut

Eating with the Seasons

Understanding Iron-deficiency Anemia and Sports Anemia

From Farm to Doorstep with a Click

From Heirloom Seeds to Heirloom Breeds

How to Handle a Whole Chicken

DIY Cayenne/St. John’s Wort Salve

Natural Herbal Foot Care

The Wonders of Bergamot

Recipes

Avocado Toast

Banana Blueberry Muffins

On-the-go Breakfast Oatmeal Trail Mix Cupcakes

Baked Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal

Meyer Lemon, Kale, and Goat Cheese Flatbread

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Power Salad with Lemon Chia Seed Dressing

3 Ingredient Split Pea Soup (vegan)

Spaghetti and Olive Rosemary Meatballs (grain-free)

Goat Cheese Chicken Alfredo (gluten-free)

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili (vegan)

Easy Chickpea Vegetable Stir Fry

Apple Berry Crumble (grain-free)

Mini-Carob Brownies (gluten-free)

Coconut Custard

I apologize for not putting out a post last week. I got clobbered with a sinus cold, which on top of being (seemingly) perpetually sick (again) this pregnancy and a teething infant will knock anyone flat on their back. However, through the use of essential oils (lemon, peppermint, and ginger mainly), I managed to defeat the crud after 4 days. Had I been able to use doTERRA’s protective blend, OnGuard, it might have been sooner, but there are certain oils one has to avoid while pregnant and some of those are in it.

 

But I’m back with this month’s doTERRA specials:

 

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Feel free to visit my website for more information on these products, and always feel free to shoot me a message with any questions you might have on products, preferred memberships, and becoming an wellness advocate!

 

And now onward….

 

Since my daughter was six months, I’ve introduced solid foods to her. Like many parents, I’d done some research about which way I wanted to go. I was really interested in baby-led weaning (BLW) but honestly had no idea where to begin to find good resources on the subject, and I didn’t know which of my friends were using that method of introduction. So I went with spoon-feeding purees.

 

It has been a frustrating experience, honestly. I initially went all out, making purees from fruits and veggies and trying to stuff them in her, with the occasional dose of yogurt added. Some things she liked right away. Many of them she’d tolerate. But in the end, almost all of them she spit back out, especially when her interest for what mama and daddy were eating grew.

 

So I began hand-feeding her bits of whatever I felt was nutritious for her with, again, varying results. Most meals, I felt frustrated. So did my daughter, I think, because she wanted to do it herself.

 

Now children are hardwired to learn how to do things from the time they’re born–rolling to sitting to crawling to walking–and while they need some help sometimes from the parents, the learning curve is largely left up to how fast they’re going to figure it out and do it. So it’s rather backwards of parents to seize control of the eating part of this learning process by dictating what foods their kids should eat (at this stage). Okay, in general we do know what is nutritious…but so do babies, and they know exactly what they need when. Trust me. Blueberries are packed with good things for you but if a baby doesn’t want to eat them, they won’t no matter how hard you try.

 

Linked to Amazon

Linked to Amazon

Enter Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater, by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. I was introduced to this book a few months ago by a friend who announced that this would be her basic BLW guide as she began introducing solids to her son (though I didn’t purchase it till the beginning of this month). I was thrilled to know someone else who was planning on BLW and picked her brain about the best way to go through with it now that I’d started solids.

 

Let me stop here a moment to define what BLW is not. Weaning, as used here, is a British term for introducing foods to a baby, whereas in America it is used to describe the process of stopping breastfeeding. BLW is not about reducing breast milk to your child, which has many essential antibodies and benefits for them (even through the age of 2), but rather about teaching them how to eat good, nutritious food.

 

What is BLW? Basically, it’s putting a variety of foods before your baby and letting them examine them to their heart’s content till they are ready to try tasting them…and then letting them gum/chew the food till they figure out the mechanics of eating. This whole process, according to Rapley/Murkett, is akin to playing–and who wouldn’t want their kid to enjoy meal time?

 

There is a reduced risk of choking, according to Rapley/Murkett, because when babies first start learning how to eat, they still have their tongue reflex, an automatic mechanism that pushes away objects that threaten to go down their throat. At around six months, this begins to lessen/stop. The problem with purees and spoon-feeding, apparently, is that the foods are runny enough to bypass this safety reflex and the baby merely sucks food off a spoon, so when chunkier foods are introduced, they can often choke on chunks as they haven’t yet figured out how to chew.

 

This being said, I’ve got to admit that it is a messier way to do meal time. Rapley/Murkett offer some good suggestions for reducing mess, but until an infant learns how to keep food in their mouth, chew and swallow it, there is mess involved. On the upside of things, however, the messy stage is rather short-lived and accompanied by the necessary learning of the mechanics of the hands, mouth, and utensils (when introduced). Many BLW children are able to feed themselves well with utensils by 18-24 months–there are pictures in the book to prove it.

 

I’m really interested in seeing my daughter progress. Already, I feel like she’s eating more than she was before, even if half of the apple pulp comes back out 🙂 I’m hoping that BLW’s promise of infants being more adventurous eaters will happen soon, too, and am in the process of looking for easy-to-use/-wash dishware and utensils to help her practice! I will, as usual, do a follow up post at a later date. Until then, happy eating!

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading two books that I never got to during my yoga training. They both have to do with mindfulness while eating, about tackling the issues beneath and/or undermining every attempt to diet (or not to diet), about dealing with the baggage we’ve carried around with us since childhood and how and why that translates into our eating habits. As last week’s post was extraordinarily long, I’ll try to keep this one short, sweet, and to the point.

 

The basic point of both: diets don’t work. Food is a coping mechanism, a distraction from what’s really going on deep inside.

 

Linked to Amazon

Linked to Amazon

The first is by Geneen Roth, titled Women, Food, and God. In essence, this book discusses the theory behind the importance of mindfulness in our daily lives–how it changes lives. Roth candidly discusses her own 50-year struggle with food issues as well as those of her students at retreats. To come directly to the point, she believes that our eating behaviors are a direct reflection of our deepest-held beliefs and/or belief systems, whether we overindulge or underindulge, binge or starve.

 

Although I disagree with her on one level (I hold some very strong spiritual convictions of my own), I think she hits the nail on the head most of the time. We get so wrapped up in food–what we can and cannot eat, calorie-counting, all the fad diets, and so forth–that we are ignoring–no, avoiding–the real issues that are making us miserable, anxious, and huge (or miserable, anxious, and anorexic). We choose to focus on controlling our intake (or not, if we’re in rebellion against a nameless authority within our minds) because we’ve tricked ourselves into thinking that by fixing what and how we eat, we’ll fix our bodies and therefore will fix whatever is wrong and/or broken within us.

 

Um, yeah…about that: as Roth says, no physical fix will ever make us happy.

 

Linked to Amazon

Linked to Amazon

The second book, which I read first, is by Susan Albers, titled Eating Mindfully. I loved this book more because I feel it’s very practical and immediate. One part theory, four parts helpful tips, this book is essentially a guidebook for getting yourself on track to eat mindfully. Albers discusses the kinds of eaters there typically are before giving 55 great tips, plus some extra goodies in the back, to the reader to help them learn self-awareness. Additionally, the book is small with short chapters. If you only have a few minutes each day to read one, this is the mindfulness self-help book for you because you can apply it to anything in your life. Eating habits are just the beginning of mindful living.

 

At no point in either book do the authors poo-poo medical advice. Albers highly recommends taking hers to your doctor/dietician appointments so you can discuss the techniques in it and use the ones that will especially help you. Nor do either pass judgment. The whole point, as Roth repeatedly reminds the reader, is to discover what’s going on beneath the surface, not to judge the junk that comes up in order to beat yourself up all over again–that’s not going to help.

 

Mindfulness is about recognizing when you’re tripping down a mindless, destructive path and then using positive self-talk and helpful reminders and/or exercises to get you back on track. If you are someone whose tried every diet out there, gained and lost weight for too many years (Roth says that she gained and lost 1000 pounds before finding her mindfulness practice), hate yourself for binging, hate food, or just hate dieting restrictions, try these out. There are very few “rules” and absolutely no “good” and “bad” food lists. I mean, it cannot hurt, can it? This is your health, after all, and your quality of life. You are worth it!

Being caught up in motherhood and rereading the course material for my YogaFit Level 5 class in order to finish up my 200-RYT, I completely forgot to do a post last week! I’m terribly excited about completing this certification. My journey with yoga since 2008 has been a roller coaster. I’ve had amazing instructors who encouraged me to pursue my certification as I was able to afford it; I’ve had an instructor who chided me for teaching a yoga-Pilates mixed class while she was gone (I thought I was doing both her and the gym a favor) and it got a little personal and territorial (not the idea of yoga, by the way); my heart’s been crushed by some hard-nosed business personnel and I’ve scraped by on small paychecks; my students have uplifted and encouraged me in more ways than I can mention.

I also plan on pursuing another line of holistic practice, essential oils through doTERRA. I’m extremely interested in seeing if this is a viable option to expand not only my personal practice in well being but also that of my students, friends and family. I’m also hoping that this becomes a thriving business to help supplement my family’s income in order that we obtain the goal of being debt free.

Linked to Amazon page

Linked to Amazon page

Now, onto the review. As I said, I’ve been rereading the Level 5 course material, and Natural Prozac: Learning to Release Your Body’s Own Anti-Depressants is one of the books. Dr. Robertson’s theory revolves around the fact that the brain’s chemicals can be altered by both one’s thoughts and the things one does. Neurotransmitters increase and decrease according to our thought and action patterns, and if these patterns are sustained they can created a new brain baseline. If one consumes certain foods, reduces exercise and daily activities, and regularly has negative thoughts, the brain’s baseline chemicals alter in a way that will promote depression. In the first part of the book, Robertson discusses two types (of three, the third being genetic, which he briefly touches upon):

  • Satiation-type depression: described chemically as low levels of seratonin, dopamine and norepinephrine; these people seek to avoid situations and activities that create anxiety and stress in their lives.
  • Arousal-type depression: described chemically as low levels of seratonin and high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine; these people seek to avoid dealing with their feelings by engaging in situations and activities that create anxiety and stress.

Robertson continues by saying that he believes (as I do) that by altering the foods one eats, the activities one does (including increasing exercise), and practicing cognitive restructuring can increase seratonin levels and balance out dopamine/norepinephrine levels, minimizing or even curing depression, always with doctor and/or therapist supervision of course.

The second half of his book is dedicated to a discussion of the tools he uses (diet, exercise, nature, music, journal writing, entertainment, and spiritual/religious practices), a regimen for each kind of depression, and final words of encouragement.

Overall, I think Robertson’s book is a great self-help guide that can assist those struggling with depression in learning how to identify the root causes of their malady, pinpoint their trigger situations and feelings, and slowly change their behaviors into healthier habits that will positively affect body, mind and even spirit. He gives excellent case studies of patients, with named changed of course, as well as going through the various ways depression can occur and how one avoids dealing with is in minute detail. I also like how he promotes positivity throughout the book, encouraging the reader that 1) there is hope and 2) the power lies with them.

I think that those searching for a way to alleviate the dark oppression depression brings can benefit from Robertson’s tools with doctor/therapist supervision. When one struggles with depression, it is always best to have a team of supporters to help one stay on track. In conclusion, then, I recommend this book because I find it enlightening, uplifting, and easy for the common lay reader to understand (one doesn’t have to be a doctor to translate the terminology, thank heavens).

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Author Note: I am not a doctor, psychologist, therapist or in any way linked with the medical community. This is merely a suggested reading, not a prescription to help minimize or cure depression. If you are suffering from depression, believe you may be suffering from it, or are having dark, violent or suicidal thoughts, please seek immediate medical attention. The sooner you get help, the better your odds are at coping with and/or alleviating your symptoms through an appropriate treatment plan.