I’ve seen it so often. Women find out their pregnant, start feeling the effects of it, and quit coming to the gym or their classes. When I see them again postpartum, they feel huge and out of shape.

 

Now, let me preface this by saying that I’m not throwing rocks. I know how debilitating some of pregnancy’s “side effects” are. As one who has experienced hyperemesis through two pregnancies myself, it can be extremely difficult to lift your head to do a daily task (other than hang out with the toilet) let alone get yourself dressed for a workout.

 

I’m also going to say that working out is the¬†only thing that saved me from 1) losing my lunch (and my mind) completely and 2) turning into a couch potato. Even though by eight weeks I could no longer do my usual workouts due to the severity of my nausea, practicing and teaching Yoga and Pilates really, really helped me maintain a healthy weight, keep down the nausea, maintain strength and flexibility and a strong core (essential for delivering babies), and mental clarity.

 

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Pregnancy is a wonderful new adventure, and the perfect time to clean up your routine. This doesn’t necessarily mean starting something new or increasing your goals. It means making small, healthy changes that benefit you and the baby and your household. Gentle, consistent exercise is the main way to keep pregnancy side effects at bay. It helps maintain muscle tone and bone strength, increases adherence to healthy behaviors and therefore a healthy weight, increases circulation and oxygen to the body (and baby), increases positive mindset and mood while decreasing anxiety and depression, and also reduces all the side effects of pregnancy such as swelling, excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, insomnia and exhaustion.

 

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This sounds wonderful (and is!) but I always provide a word of caution. Whenever pregnant, make sure you consult your physician and/or OB about your routine. Each pregnancy is unique and needs to be well attended by both you and your doctor. Complications and contraindications can occur at any time, in which case you must curtail or change your regimen to meet doctor’s orders. Never go against them (seek a second opinion if you don’t agree with the decision) for your own sake and that of the baby.

 

Most of all, enjoy the journey. Be gentle with yourself. You are venturing down a new path–yes, even those of us who have multiple children, it’s still new because there’s another one coming ūüėČ Take care of the important things, learn to let the little things go, and laugh a lot. Children are precious and fun…and I bet you’ll feel better when you do!

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

Sugar. I’ve talked about it before, sometimes at length. But it’s also my guilty little secret–I love sugar A LOT. And when I start eating it, I have a hard time stopping. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s one I really want to stop.

 

I had been thinking about the reality of sugar addiction and then I watched this video by a fellow Jamberry consultant, and decided it was time to talk about this in length:

 

 

Now, I’m not here to recommend a diet plan. If you are interested in something like the ketogenic diet, you should consult a registered dietitian. What I’m really here to discuss is the sad reality of the Western way of eating.

 

First and foremost, if you read labels when you go shopping, you almost always find sugar as a main ingredient in packaged and processed foods. It is well documented that sugar is addictive and in fact can be a replacement for drugs like cocaine. It has even been suggested that sugar addiction should be treated as a form of drug abuse. The change in behavior after eating sugar is undeniable. When my own children have sweets, they become much wilder, less able to entertain themselves, hungrier more frequently, and often less willing to follow household rules. I have found myself eating more food more frequently than I really need to on days that I have anything sweet–and I mean¬†anything sweet.

 

Sugar is in everything. Take a look at this article. (I’m not recommending the services offered here. I just want you to look at how much sugar (in grams) there is per serving in some common foods.)

 

Here’s the kicker! For years, I’ve followed foodie blogs that tout using different alternatives to wheat and so forth because they’re considered healthier (and there’s good argument for the use of many of these alternative flours, oils, spices, etc.). I absolutely¬†love desserts, so whenever one comes up, I look at it…but I had an epiphany this month: just because it uses healthier ingredients doesn’t meant it is any less sweet or less addictive. Let me just repeat myself one more time:

 

Just because it uses healthier ingredients doesn’t mean it is any LESS sweet or less addictive!

 

This is huge, because I think many people want to live healthier lifestyles. There’s huge talk about superfoods, gluten-free alternatives, stevia, bone broth, diets of all kinds…the list goes on and on. I think most who ascribe to a Western diet (and there are some major differences between it and Eastern and Mediterranean diets, which I’ll talk about at length in a later post), who struggle with their own growing midsections, increased inflammation in the body as a whole, heart disease and diabetes, malnutrition (yes, this can happen even if you’re consuming enough calories), and even negative mindset, anxiety and depression–in fact, most people in general–want to eat better. (Including myself! Hello, fellow sugar addicts!)

 

Herein lies the roots of the problem:

 

  1. We all lead extremely busy lives these days.
  2. Convenience foods, like those found in packages, are often quick, inexpensive, and last on the shelf for a long time. (Hint: if they have an expiration date that is longer than a few weeks, that should be a clue as to how “real” the food is.)
  3. Cooking can be hard work and it’s usually low on our daily to-do list. (I mean, let’s face it. Coming home dog tired to a refrigerator full of whole foods just doesn’t sound like fun some days, right? Instead, we say, “Where’s the pantry?”)
  4. Food is often used as a reward and during almost all celebrations and special events–this particularly applies to sweet, fatty, and salty foods.
  5. Uh, hello advertising! We love how convenient you tell us your products are.

 

I am on a journey. It’s going to be a¬†really, really hard journey for me because I sincerely love sweets. However, I want to be healthy instead of filling my body up with junk. My body¬†was created for a purpose–I was created for a purpose–and I need to take care of myself. I’m in my 30’s, I have children who look at everything I do (and they’re asking for sweets way too often), and I don’t want diseases that results from inflammation and weight gain¬†to cripple me. Yes, I’m a yoga and Pilates instructor and shouldn’t all fitness instructors eat raw leaves and twigs and never even bat an eyelash at junk foods? No, sorry. We’re humans too, prone to indulging every so often. My problem is that I tend to indulge¬†too often.

 

I hope you will join me in my quest for an easier way to eat without suffering from the constant hankering of a sweet tooth. I’m sure I’ll bumble, stumble, and rediscover a lot of amazing things along the way, and I look forward to sharing them here with the hope that my own thoughts help you become a better, healthier version of yourself.

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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 ūüôā
  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

I’ve had one of those weeks. The ones that drag you through the mud. In fact, today I’ve rather felt a little like mud. But that’s okay! Days like this can get you down but you don’t have to let them! One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is the power of positive thinking! It’s as simple as recognizing a negative thought, acknowledging it, and replacing it with something positive. It’s not always easy, but it is important! I hope you’ll give it a try. In the meantime, enjoy these articles and recipes!

Articles

8 Hormones Involved in Exercise

Concurrent Training Can Jeopardize Strength Gains

The Effects of Alcohol on Muscle Gains

How to Dead Lift

Steady State vs. Interval Training

4 Moves to Help You Master the Pull Up

6 Effective Squat Variations You Need to Try

Heart-pumping Plyometrics Workout

Upper Body Explosive Training Workout

10-minute Core Workout

10-minute Glutes Workout

What You Don’t Know about Food Labeling Could Undermine Your Health

Post-workout Tips

15 Ways to be Kind to Your Adrenals

Citrus Oils and Breast Health

About Carrier Oils

Recipes

Zucchini Bread Baked Oatmeal

Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Pancakes (vegan)

Caprese Avocado Toast

Greek Tacos

Grilled Polenta Rounds with Black Bean & Avocado Salsa

Chocolate Chip Blueberry Bars (w/flourless option)

Pineapple Mango Sorbet

Almond Biscotti (gluten-free)

Pie Crust (gluten-free)

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

This is probably not the typical money-saving post you’ll read on health. I’m not a proponent of specialty diets or supplements. They work for some people, but not for everyone…and if you choose to do one, you tend to have to go through a trial and error period of time until you find what works for you. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: there’s no one diet or exercise regimen for everyone. You’ve got to find what works for you.

The other reason why I don’t promote any one kind of plan is that I don’t have the money to put into supplementation. I have found that whole foods work best…and work even better if you can cut out the crap found in processed (i.e. packaged) foods. Yes, there are other factors that make a difference. There’s been a lot of talk about gut health and pre- and probiotics found in foods, and those are important things too! There’s been talk about Candida and how it affects your health, and that’s an important fact also! I may do posts on both of these topics, and more, in the future.

Right now, I just want to talk about three simple–but difficult–ways you can improve your health without spending a dime.

The first is to hydrate. Almost everyone doesn’t drink enough water and, thankfully, we live in a land that has the technology to easily purify water. I don’t particularly like plastic water bottles on account of their chemical toxins, but sometimes we have to do what we have to do to get something in us. Drink water. Drink a lot of water. For a lot of reasons, like:

  • Gets the bowels moving first thing in the morning.
  • Keeps the skin, hair, and nails hydrated.
  • Flushes out built up toxins from muscles.
  • Keeps our cells happy.
  • Keeps you full and less likely to binge eat.

The second is to reduce or eliminate processed foods from your diet. This is something that is really, really difficult for everyone, myself included. Packaged foods are convenient and quick, and our lives aren’t getting any slower. This is why meal planning is becoming more and more valuable for those who wants to eat better AND stick to a budget. This does require some organization and discipline. You’ve got to decide on your meals for the week. You’ve got to stick to a shopping list and avoid the goody aisle. You’ve got to stick with your meal plans even when you’re tired–so prepping on the weekend when you have some time is essential but hard to do when you just want to turn into the proverbial vegetable. In the end, you’ve got to decide what’s more important, sticking to your budget and health regimen or letting unnecessary costs and calories add up.

Let me add right now that I believe in cheating. Sometimes. The more I read and study nutrition, the more I believe that an occasional treat or cheat meal is good for our sanity. But by occasional, I’m thinking like twice a month or once a week, and no more!

I’ll also be completely honest on this one. I’ve had the roughest time doing this myself lately! Ever since I had Baby #2, I just want to eat crap. But it’s a vicious cycle to do so–when you eat processed foods (especially sweets, my downfall), it changes the chemical makeup of your brain so that you crave more of what’s not good for you. So tread carefully on your cheat meals or desserts. If you aren’t careful, they could lead you down a slippery slope that is very hard to climb back up. Please trust me on this. Right now, it’s my personal struggle in the health department! But I’m not discouraged and I’m not giving up!

Third, and last, to save more money, get moving. Go on a hike, walk your dog, mow your lawn, do something. In the short term, being a couch potato may seem like a great idea. We get tired. We come home worn and frustrated and wanting to gorge on that bag or container of our favorite comfort food. Go workout instead, for a couple reasons:

  • It changes the chemicals in our brains from a fight/flight mechanism to a calming but happy one.
  • It makes us pause and think about our choices.
  • It reduces our heath expenses in the long run–this is a big one, as more studies are showing that going to the gym for an hour each day, but then sitting for 8+ at work, may actually do very little for us. THIS is why it’s so important to get up each hour and move around a little bit, even if it means walking down a hallway and back! Daily activity levels are vital, and may be more important than gym time over the course of a lifetime.
  • It’s fun–find what works for you and smile while you do it, and watch your mindset change!

My mom has chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. There are many days that she hurts and is exhausted. But recently she told me that even on her really bad days she’s found that walking one block makes her feel better over the long term. In essence, it reverses a lot of the pain and fatigue she experiences because she got up and moved a little. Not much, but a little.

Want to hear more about my mom? Last winter, she could barely move around her house. This summer, she’s been walking 5-10 miles each day! Yes, you can do it too!

Want to hear another awesome story? I’ve got a girlfriend who wanted to lose quite a bit of weight. We discussed eating whole foods and moderate amounts of exercise to help her start the weight loss process. She didn’t want someone to counsel her. She just needed advice. One year into it, she suddenly contacted me and told me that she’d lost 55-65 pounds!! And felt terrific…and she’s looking terrific too! She’s back down to her high school weight, and we’ve been out for 13 years now!

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. There are a plethora of ways out there that are willing to help you lose weight and get healthy, but for a price. If you aren’t sure you want to spend the money OR if you don’t have the money, start with small steps. Choose one thing to work on and gradually add others until you’re achieving the healthy lifestyle you want to live! It takes work. It takes discipline. It takes dedication. But you can do it!