I just heard you groan. You’re thinking, But you just told me that dieting does not necessarily help me lose (or gain) weight. Yes, yes I did. Dieting does not help maintain healthy body weight. In fact, more and more research suggests that dieting actually harms your basal metabolic state, making you prone to regaining even more weight than you’ve lost and having a hard time losing it (again). (Please excuse the advertising at the end of the article linked. It’s the research surrounding Biggest Loser that fascinates me most. Here is also a great article by IDEA.)

 

So, the bad news is that yo-yo dieting can slow down your metabolism and a slow metabolism means that you are prone to working harder for fewer results. And then there are genes, which do account for a certain (if small) percentage toward whether or not we are naturally inclined toward thin or not-so-thin. But here is where the good news comes in!

 

Epigenetics. It’s a word most of us have never heard of before. Translated as “control above genetics,” this is the study of how environment plays a role in “turning on” and “turning off” our genes. Food is one of the main environmental factors we have in our lives and it perhaps plays one of the biggest roles in how our genes function (exercise being another main player).

 

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It seems that Hippocrates was right when he said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Scientists have discovered that bioactive compounds like phytonutrients and antioxidants play a huge role in turning on genes that help us lose and maintain a healthy weight. Healthy lifestyle and diet choices can change the expression of at least 500 genes! This is great news for those of us who struggle with things like sugar addiction because it means that a wide, varying diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables nurtures your entire body right down to genetic expression. It means that you can start remaking yourself one bite (and one activity) at a time–and in 7-10 years, you’ll literally be a whole new person!

 

In my next post on this series, I’ll be sharing the small steps that I have been taking to help reduce my sugar cravings. I knew going in to this that it wasn’t going to be something that happened overnight, but I’m happy to say that I’m slowly seeing results. Looking forward to sharing more soon!

 

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Read the Whole Series here:

Part 1

Part 2

Matcha Tea

Matcha: One Amazing Tea

October 20, 2016

I bet you think I’ve forgotten about my Confessions of a Sugar Addict thread, but I promise I have not! I simply am working my way through a ton of research, theory, and practical personal application to find what methods work well (for myself, but hopefully also for you). Stick with me because I’m coming back to this thread next week.

 

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you one amazing little thing that I’m doing to help cut my sugar cravings: I drink matcha tea 1-2 times each day.

 

I know, your head just exploded.

 

It’s true, though. When I get up in the morning, I have a small cup of match tea that I whisk up and drink. It is the perfect way to start my morning without the jittery side effects that coffee can bring or the ups and downs of sugar consumption via sweet cereal, candy, a latte, etc.

 

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I am privileged to know a tea master, who is training to become a level two tea master (I cannot recall exactly the terminology, but this is a rare honor) and has been going to Japan to learn the art of the tea ceremony. This is an amazing feat because very few Westerners actually get to do this. The last time I talked to her, I think she said there were only a handful of tea masters in the States!

 

So why matcha? Well…….

 

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Almost every Westerner who has matcha for the first time doesn’t like it very well, including Yours Truly. There are two reasons for this. First, matcha has a naturally strong flavor due to the way it’s made. It’s actually a rather long, labor-intensive process that requires shading of the tea plants so that they produce as much of their green chlorophyll as possible; the drying process of the tea leaf but not the rolling; the removal of stems and twigs; and of course turning it into powder.

 

Second, most matcha available on the market is rather low grade. You will know it’s low grade because there’s a bitterness to it. High-grade and Ceremonial-grade matchas are much sweeter and subtler in flavor than many matchas found on the market, which means their medicinal properties also stay intact better. While this does not necessarily mean those products are bad, if you plan on drinking matcha plain on the regular you want to spend the money on good quality stuff.

 

There’s been a big trend on using matcha in food and drink lately, something I saw a lot while I lived in Japan. (The Japanese love the stuff. They even have this incredible matcha-flavored ice cream. I know…..sweets again!) If you’re not sure you want to drink matcha plain, no problem. You can add it to many things, such as these:

 

 

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The great thing is that high-quality matcha is becoming more readily available and more recognized for its benefits. If you are looking to try some, there are two excellent brands that I recommend you try. Please note: I am a tea lover and do not get compensated for sharing my opinions and favorite brands.

 

  • Steeped Tea: they have two grades of matcha, their “regular” and their Ceremonial. Both are excellent. Steeped Tea has such excellent tea, I pretty much buy from them whereas I used to be a fairly loyal Teavana customer.
  • Yesterday’s Cafe: the first place I tried the best grade of matcha. The proprietor is well-versed in tea knowledge (she’s the tea master I referred to above) and makes the best matcha lemonade ever! Plus, she’s got a ton more tea goodies too!

 

In closing, I personally drink matcha because of the sustained energy boost it gives me throughout the day: I drink a cup early in the morning on an empty stomach and wait 30 minutes before I drink anything else so I have time to process the matcha well and receive its benefits. Usually I only have to drink one cup for a pick-me-up, and I’ve never had an issue going to bed even if I do have one in the afternoon. I also enjoy matcha because it helps curb my sugar cravings, which is why I’m sharing this with you in the first place! All of the other benefits are perks! So enjoy that next cuppa!

Right now I’m working on a couple things as far as minimizing sugar consumption and clean eating. I’m still in the process of figuring things out for myself as well as doing a bunch of research on food and the Western Diet. In doing so, I’ve come across a lot of dialogue concerning body size and health. While I’ve recognized these facts for some time, it is important that more people do also, so I thought I’d share them with you.

 

Myth: If I’m “fat”, I’m unhealthy.

Fact: Weight gain is caused by a myriad of factors, of which about 25% relates to genetics, and even more related to hormones (for women in particular). I have met women who struggle with losing weight who eat well and exercise daily, so one cannot judge just by surface appearance.

 

Myth: If I’m “skinny”, I’m healthy.

Fact: Skinny doesn’t mean a thing in the realm of healthy living. There are people who are thin as a rail who develop heart disease in their 20’s because they lead a sedentary life combined with poor dietary choices. I also know people who start to gain weight the minute they begin eating well and exercising regularly–indeed, this is one way to improve overall health for those who are  medically classified as underweight.

 

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Myth: If I diet, the weight will stay off.

Fact: Dieting is one of the leading causes of regaining weight–and regaining more weight than one previously weighed before beginning a diet! Most people who follow a standardized diet have one of two outcomes: either they have poor results because the diet does not work well for their body type, metabolism, and so forth; or they achieve their weight loss goals and stop dieting, only to regain it all back, plus some. Yo-yo dieting is not a solution to the problem. Exchanging healthy habits for unhealthy ones over a long period of time is.

 

Myth: If I exercise, the weight melts away.

Fact: There is a lot of truth to this statement, yet many people will find this more difficult than others due to a body’s initial homeostatic preferences, hormone- and disease-related issues, current dietary habits, sleep patterns, workplace stress factors, support in relationships (friendship, romance, parents, etc.), medications, mental health…the list can go on for pages.

 

Myth: If obesity runs in the family, there’s nothing I can do about it.

Fact: Genetics only make up about 25% of the picture, and a lot of what is perceived as hereditary actually comes back to the habits you learned as a child. Choices matter even when they don’t add up to the emaciated super-modelesque physique popular culture thrusts upon us each day. They matter a lot!

 

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Myth: If I’m obese when considering a proper diet and exercise regimen to begin, surgery is my only option.

Fact: Surgeries that help reduce weight rapidly should not be looked at as a permanent solution to the equation. For those who are morbidly obese, surgery is a starting point for your weight loss journey. The problem so many people find is that the moment they undo them, they gain back more weight than ever before. If surgery is something you are considering, you must discuss habitual lifestyle behaviors with your team of specialists (physician, registered dietitian, surgeon, personal trainer, therapist, etc.) in order to determine what steps you need to take are right for you. In my opinion, surgery is a last resort and only the first step to consistent, positive lifestyle habits.

 

The bottom line is if you’re having issues losing weight via “mainstream” diet and health guidelines, consulting your physician is a good place to start. Depending on your situation, you may need to work with a team of people that include a registered dietitian, personal trainer, psychologist, and other therapists. You should seek referrals from your doctor and anyone else you are currently working with in order to discover and tackle the issues you are facing, but at the end of the day, determination will win the day!

 

There is no one right kind of body shape. We are all created from a unique mold. Embrace your curves (or lack thereof) and think about why you are really here in this world. It isn’t to look amazing every single moment of every single day (not even Hollywood stars that do that). Utimately, it is to fulfill your purpose and live generously.

I Am Invictus

May 19, 2016

Over the last week, I’ve watched what I could of the Invictus Games through Facebook posts. I am really, really upset that all that was offered on ESPN was a recap of the games and some coverage of the Opening and Closing ceremonies. It’s gotten me thinking about an organization that my husband is a part of, 22 Until None. Their goal is to end the rampant suicide epidemic that plagues veterans, a fact that was driven so close to home for us last summer when one of my husband’s men committed suicide in the parking garage of the barracks. It shook everyone in the command up. Many, including my husband, went to speak with counselors about it–he was like one of our kids.

 

The whole goal of the Invictus Games is to spread awareness of the struggles, the triumphs, and the sacrifices that military  men and women from around the world have endured, and how they have overcome them. It is not about survival, for veterans don’t want to be looked at as mere survivors. What they have done deserves more than this casual take. They have done so much more, and have conquered. They are unconquerable. They are unconquered. Invictus.

 

Yoga and Pilates are two passions that I’ve taught for a long, long time, and it’s made me very determined to help those who struggle not only with physical needs but also metal needs. One of the things I love most about the Invictus Games, 22 Until None, Help for Heroes, etc., is the fact that they are reaching out to veterans who may not have any noticeable scars but carry with them the invisible ones caused by the stress and trauma of warfare. It is my intention to reach out to this community and help them through physical fitness and therapy. More and more studies are showing that practices like yoga help ease both physical suffering and mental anguish associated with PTSD.

 

I want to take a moment and just say this to anyone suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental states caused by trauma, whether or not you’re a veteran: you aren’t alone. There are people ready to help you. All you need to do is ask; no one will judge you.

 

Don’t let the pain win.

 

You also can be Invictus.

 

 

I’ve been down and out for the count this week due to the stomach flu. It might have been food poisoning but it seemed to last longer than that so I’m counting it as the flu. It seems to be the thing that’s going around right now, so here’s one of my tips to help calm your stomach: peppermint tea.

 

Mint has long been known as a remedy against nausea and peppermint has been a lifesaver for me this week. It helped me go from being a non-functioning parent on Tuesday morning to someone who could at least tolerate her young children crawling across her that evening.

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I always recommend buying loose-leaf teas whenever possible, as those found in ready-to-brew bags in the stores generally are the lowest, cheapest grade available on the market. I’ve been a long-time fan of Teavana, but in recent years have also found Steeped Tea and Yesterday’s Tea Cafe & Matcha Bar. (I’ve linked the Steeped Tea website to my personal consultant; she’s great and will help you with anything you need! Please let her know Leah referred you!) The last is run by one of the few tea masters in the United States, who really knows her stuff and who is a lovely person. If you love all the kinds of tea, make sure you also check out the tea bags and mesh infusers to find the perfect fit for you!

 

Here’s one last fabulous tip on how to reuse your tea bags, whether pre-made or prepped in your own kitchen: Unique Ways to Reuse An Old Tea Bag. I knew some of these but I found others really remarkable!

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I have completely fallen off the blogging bandwagon since January. Let me tell you, I’ve thought about you and this blog many times, but transitioning out of the military, being a mom, and finding work (and working my Jamberry Nails business) have really consumed my every waking moment. Regardless, I am extremely thrilled to be back at Hillsdale College. This little community has really welcomed hubby and I back with open arms. Indeed, I’m tutoring Greek with the Classics Department and I’m offering a few classes both on campus and in the local area.

 

If you live in Hillsdale, Jonesville, Allen, Litchfield, Moscow, Quincy, and Coldwater, Michigan, areas, please check out my Pilates and yoga classes at the Goodlife Yoga Center (the new term has begun, so don’t miss out on lengthening, strengthening, and de-stressing!) and Hillsdale College (contact the school for details). I’d love to see you!

 

I am working on ideas to revamp my blog, as I feel it’s time to switch things up, and would love input. What would you like to see? Share your thoughts and opinions!!!!

May 2016 Bring You Joy!

January 6, 2016

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First off, Happy New Year! I hope that you find much joy in it. When things get hard, think about how far you’ve come instead of focusing on where things went wrong!

 

Second, I know I promised a third part to my major articles and links series in December, but life ate me. Seriously. It ate me. It swooped in like a huge pterodactyl and swallowed me whole. So that third post didn’t get done. Instead, I’m going to spice things up again and change up my posting this year, focusing on shorter but info-packed posts in order to accommodate my busy schedule.

 

Last, I’d love to hear from you! Tell me what you’d like to see from me this year. It can be anything from diet to exercise to mindfulness moments. I’m all ears!

I haven’t been on hardly at all lately. I’ve been caught between three giants that are taking all of my time:

  1. My family, because that’s just where it’s at 🙂
  2. Getting ready to move to MI in December–this is fast approaching!
  3. National Novel Writing Month because it’s awesome!

I suppose I should add Jamberry onto that list. It is taking my evenings and I’m having SO MUCH FUN doing it! I cannot get enough of this product or the company, and am so glad I signed up! Have questions? Ask me, please!

But on to the real reason I’m writing! I’m trying to play catch up this morning, so I’m going to leave you with all the links and articles I’ve collected over the past few months. I really need to share them with you and get them out of my mail box! Because I have so many, I’m going to share them in three installments. This is the first! Enjoy and please feel free to contact me! I’d love to connect.

Articles

Are You Wearing the Right Shoes?

What are the Benefits to Fasted-State Cardio?

Build Your Biceps Workout

Turkish Get Up

Improve Wrist Mobility

TRX Plank Variations for a Stronger Core

Pilates/PNF for Improved Balance?

15 Yoga Poses that Improve Balance

16 Poses for a Strong and Stable Core

A Yoga Practice that Won’t Bear Weight on Hands/Knees

5 Lessons Yoga Taught Me About Failure

But I Thought All Yoga Was Therapeutic

How to Incorporate Pumpkin Into Your Diet

Food Swaps for Increased Energy

The Encyclopedia of Chicken Stock

5 Ways Einkorn is Different From Wheat

Emerging Male Eating Disorder Tied to Supplement Use

Free Radicals: Antioxidants and Exercise

Using Essential Oils for Kids–What is Safe?

Choosing a Carrier Oil to Enhance EO Therapeutic Properties

Tisserand Institute Special Report: Undiluted Truth: Cinnamon Oil

Argan-Avocado Soap-free Face Wash

How Well Does Before School Exercise “Build Our Kids’ Success”?

Regular Exercise before Pregnancy Key to Minimizing Common Pregnancy Pains

Recipes

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

3 Vegetarian Recipes to Try

Chop Fall Salad

Paleo Chicken Tenders

Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Maple Cookies

Autoimmune Protocol Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

The Benefits of Matcha Tea

August 13, 2015

After I had my first daughter, we did her baby shower in a tea shop. The owner is one of the few tea masters in the USA, and she expounded upon the benefits of quality Matcha tea, a powdered green tea that one whisks into a frothy hot drink…or mix it in with some lemonade or your favorite quick bread. The uses of it are endless. An avid tea drinker, I was fascinated. As a writer, I’d done some research on tea but had not come across much on matcha.

Found on Flickr. All rights reserved to the artist.

Found on Flickr. All rights reserved to the artist.

Lately, people have been expounding upon all its benefits. There are reports that it fights cancer, burns more fat and calories, and may even have anti-aging properties. The tea master’s favorite reason to use matcha was boosting energy, something I definitely noticed when I was taking it regularly.

Matcha has become a trend of late, something that may or may not be a good thing. (I never do like trends when it comes to foods because they tend to be fads rather than real lifestyle behavioral changes.) While I hope that more studies will come out on matcha, I still suggest drinking it in its most natural state: in hot water. Some people think it tastes like grass, but to me good quality matcha has a sweet, smooth, even velvety flavor that is uniquely its own. The tea master told me to make matcha by doing the following:

  • Mix 1/4-1/2 tsp. matcha powder in 1/2 c. hot (not boiling) water
  • Whisk until frothy

It’s that simple. You want to buy ceremonial-grade matcha green tea whenever possible. This means paying a little more. A lot of store matchas are cheaper and that means they’re bitter and inferior in quality. The Tea Lady Boutique is the tea master’s online store and a great place to get good matcha (I’ve tried and like it) and I’m looking forward to doing an update about Steeped Tea‘s matcha. Both are ceremonial-grade, which means you’ll pay around $30+ for a package. Keep an eye out for the update!

Wow! I totally forgot it was the last week of the month last week, and so forgot to post these! Here are some awesome articles and recipes! Enjoy and stay cool!

Articles

A Girl’s Guide to Weight Training

6 Benefits of Using Weightlifting Machines

The Science of Suspension Exercise

7 Squat Variations

Master the Push Up

Summer-inspired Core Circuit

3 Exercises to Do Instead of Burpees

3 Arm Balance Secrets

4 Ways to Avoid Yoga Injuries

Hip Anatomy: Build Stability

The Science of Breathing

Fuzzy Thinking?

Should You Go Grain-free?

Women, Alcohol, and the Snack Attack

35 Homemade Spice Mixes

Natural Sunburn Relief

Recipes

Coconut Raspberry Bread

Cucumber, Chickpea, and Pita Salad

Fried Rice Recipe (with Cauliflower option)

Grilled Steak Fajitas

Indian Street “Burger”

Zucchini Cake

Peach Almond Crisp

Homemade Chocolate Pudding Pie (No Tofu)

No Bake Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

5 Green Smoothie Recipes