My Top 5 Wellness Favorites

wellness

I was asked recently about favorite personal wellness tips and as I’ve been reflecting on my regular routine, I’ve been able to narrow them down.  Here are my top five favorites:

1.

Exercise and nutrition/clean eating.  Obviously I have a passion for fitness and good basic nutrition.  They have become such a huge part of my life that it is more than apparent that they would be number one on my list.  And, since I believe fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand, I have joined them as top rank.  I am a huge lover of cardio, but for the 8 months, I have been completely obsessed with my strength training and have been focusing most of my gym time on that.  I would encourage everyone to add a strength training routine to their regular fitness regime.  I’m also a cheerleader for clean eating and following the Whole 30 program.  I am not a clean eater 100% (I literally just ate a handful of salted caramel chocolate chips), but I often try to stay away from processed and junk and fast foods as much as possible.  In fact, I am gearing up for a Whole 30 in a few weeks.  I also love starting my day off with some form of exercise.  It used to be a crazy Insanity workout or other form of cardio, then it was yogo, and this summer it has been early morning walks.  I am so in love with my early morning walks for a few reasons but the biggest one is the solitude in the mornings.  It’s usually just me out there and I love the stillness and the quiet and the fresh air in my face.  I also love the little feeling of accomplishment in the mornings and the walks have been giving me that.

2.

Water.  Lotsa water.  I love water.  It’s my favorite drink.  In fact, aside from a morning coffee or the occasional glass of wine, it’s the only thing I drink.  And I drink a lot of it. Water is essential in every day life – you can read here a past post on why water is important.  I love water and I constantly have a glass of it on the go, whether I’m at work or working out, I try to continuously guzzle.

3.

Sleep.  Sleep is right up there with water – it’s essential.  And it’s a big part of how I’m going to function.  I hate not getting enough sleep.  About 5 years ago I had a bad bought of insomnia for months on end and it was terrible.  I was barely functioning.  I was a walking zombie.  I’ve written two posts previously on sleep and I stand by my word (you can read them here and here) and there’s also plenty of research being done by companies, like Elysium Health , on the science behind sleep—you can learn more about their findings on cellular health and NAD+ and their connection to sleep here .  I love sleep.  I try to get as much as I can but it doesn’t always work for me.  A good night would have been sleeping 7 hours but most nights, according to my FitBit, see me sleeping anywhere from 5 to 6 hours.  Eventually, when I’m exhausted enough, I’ll manage a good 7 or 8 hours, but I will always strive.

4.

Me Time.  It’s really important – no, make that crucial – that every person take some “me time”.  Although my morning walks and other workouts can often be accounted for as me time, I like to find time during the day just for me.  Time far away from chaos and hustle and bustle and social media.  This me time is usually my reading (or writing) time.  I am an avid reader and become completely enthralled in my books.  And I look forward to curling up under the summer sun or before bed to leave where I am and, instead, get lost in the words of my book.  I urge everyone to take 20 minutes (at least) each day to themselves.

Sparkles

5.

Quality Social Time.  I am a social being.  In fact, my nickname has always been social butterfly.  Just as it’s important to take me time, it’s also important to have social time with other people.  I love spending time with my family and my friends and my co-workers and my workout buddies.  Getting out and enjoying the company of others (and allowing them to enjoy your company) is very important to maintaining good mental health.  And mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health.  Having fun or having a good cry (if required) are important to keeping us healthy and balanced.  And this means getting social in person – not hopping onto Facebook to chat.  Your mind, body, and soul need you to interact with other human beings.  So, whether you go to a fitness class or a Bible study or book club or just get together with your friends or family, ensure that you do it.  Often.

mind-body-soul_design

So, that’s it.  Those are my personal top 5 (I’m sure there are more) favorite wellness tips to living a healthy life.  What are yours?

~FB

 

Veggie Spring Rolls

This afternoon I got a hankering to make my own spring rolls.  Something I had never done before.  But, I said I’d do it…and I did it.  I wanted something that I could take to work for lunch, something yummy and interesting and I believe I succeeded.  It was actually really simple and cheap and they were delicious.

I picked up a package of rice paper at the grocery store – the only required necessity – and a few more vegetables to add to what I already have in my fridge and went on my merry way.

Rice paper

You dunk the rice paper rounds in warm water for about 20 seconds then spread them out on a plate or platter

I had a gorgeous repertoire of veggies – and an apple for a little bit of sweetness and added crunch and chopped everything up perfectly.

Veggies

Red and orange peppers, red and green onion, cabbage slaw (because I’m really cheap and really lazy to buy it all separately), tomato, cucumber, and apple. 

I tossed heaps of all that beautiful and healthy goodness onto my rice paper and rolled like a pro.

Veggie Rolls

Beauties.

I left most of them cold and raw but wanted to try a couple of them warm so I tossed them in the skillet and sauteed them.

Skillet Rolls

This one looks like it’s had a rough night, but I promise it was just as delicious.

There you go!  An easy meal option when you want to eat healthy and try something new.  (If you have kids you can fake like it’s Taco Tuesday and let them make their own rolls – super fun!)

I’m not a big fan of people who say eating healthy is “expensive”, “too hard”, “gross”, etc. and use that as an excuse to eat junk.  The package of rice rolls was around $3 and I think has 12 or 15 rolls in it.  I made 6 rolls in total – 2 or 3 would be enough for a meal on it’s own (1 or 2 if you’re having it as a side to something).  I have plenty left over for lunches.  AND, you can put as much fillers in as you want – as long as you’re gentle and don’t tear the paper.  Cheap and easy and healthy and decadent.

~FB

Healthy Snacking

Quite often people ask me what I snack on, especially when I’m on a Whole 30.  In fact, when I tell people about the Whole 30 I am usually met with “what do you eat?”.  I’m finding that people don’t realize how much nasty crap they’re eating until I really spell it out for them by explaining what I eliminate and why.

Because I’m on the go so much and, it seems, pretty much living at the gym, I’m always hungry and need to be prepared for when hunger strikes and for pre-workout fuel.

So, for those of you who are interested, here’s the short-list for my snacking staples:

  1. Dates – You can almost always find a bag of dates in my desk drawer at work, and somewhere in my house.  I love dates.  Dates are a great pre-workout fuel, since they’re rich in glucose (a simple carb).  Glucose travels directly to the liver for immediate energy transport – meaning the body doesn’t have to convert it to a different form of energy in order to utilize it.  Sometimes, if I’m feeling a little draggy during the day, I’ll pop a few dates for quick (and sweet) energy.

Dates

2. Larabars

Larabars

I LOVE me a good Larabar.  There are so many different flavors to choose from and they are made (mostly – some of them have chocolate or peanut butter) from 100% natural, clean ingredients.  And since the primary ingredient in a Larabar is dates, they’re an excellent source of energy.  You can be certain there are always a few Larabars stuffed in my gym bag.

I often make my own Larabars…especially when I’m rockin’ a Whole 30.  It’s inexpensive and I can ensure they’re compliant.

Homemade Larabars

3. Fruit – Fruit is usually my number one go-to for snacks.  I usually have apples and bananas in my fridge at home and at work.  If I have a big workout coming up, I will usually have one of the two a bit in advance.  I often will throw an apple in my gym bag as well.

Fruit

You really can’t go wrong with fruit

I also like to have tropical fruit – mango, papaya, pineapple, dragon fruit – for occasional snacking sweetness.

4. Plantain Chips – I am addicted to plantain chips.

Plantain

I get these dudes at Walmart for $2

Okay, I may not be addicted, but I do enjoy plantains – home-cooked or store bought.  They’re low in calories and fat, and are sugar-free.  I sometimes keep these in my desk drawer (where my coworkers steal indulge in them) and in my cupboard at home.  They are so good and since they are Whole 30 compliant, I usually have them on hand for “emergency” snacking.

As you can see, my snacks are all Whole 30 compliant.  But there are also options available for people who are looking for snacks that are organic, or gluten-free, or vegan.  The company GoMacro offers products that meet all of the above.

GoMacro

GoMacro is a family-owned company that “put their heart and soul into a natural, whole-food based lifestyle”.  Their pursuit of health thus became a path of living in balance with themselves and nature.  (Seriously, do yourself a favor and go read their story – it’s truly inspiring!!  <3)

Their products are, as I mentioned, gluten-free, organic, and vegan (they’re also kosher). They are cold-pressed and nut-butter based and made from simple, clean ingredients.  These little bars are perfect for throwing in your gym bag or your back pack or your purse.

MacroBite

I can almost taste the nom nom nom

Unfortunately, GoMacro Bars are not yet available in Canada (they’re working on it), but if you’re living in or visiting the US, you can order them here or pick them up in select stores.  (GoMacro peeps – feel free to send me a sampler. 🙂 ).

Well there you have it.  What I eat.  What I want to eat.  A few healthy snack ideas that you can consider keeping on hand and getting you through your workout, especially if you’re struggling to maintain compliance in a Whole or clean or vegan diet.

Cheers, ~FB

 

 

Vitamin E and Your Diet (Guest Post)

The Importance of Vitamin E and how to Incorporate it into Your Diet

Daily vitamins and minerals are one of the most important parts of a healthy diet. We all know how important Vitamin C and B12 are—we hear about them all the time. The market is inundated with B12 vitamins. Vitamin D supplements sell well in the winter because we worry we’re not getting enough sun. What about the other, less popular vitamins? Vitamin E is an equally important part of the diet. Today, we’ll talk about why and how you can work it into your daily meal plan.

Vitamins help the body grow and develop. Each one does this in a unique way. For example, Vitamin E is organically built to protect the body from neurological and mental diseases, diabetes, and ailments of the eyes. There are two main types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin which means that it is more resilient and the effects can last longer in the body. Water-soluble vitamins like B12 are flushed out of our system whenever excess water is. Comparatively, a person would need more B12 than Vitamin E since Vitamin E stays reserved in fat tissue. Taking too many fat-soluble vitamins can be dangerous for the body. Toxicity is often times more dangerous than a deficiency.
A deficiency of Vitamin E can lead to the destruction of red blood cells, which, if severe enough, can cause anemia. The symptoms of anemia include malaise, fatigue, and abnormal heart-rate. Not enough Vitamin E can lead to more serious complications like Retinopathy, which can render patients partially or completely blind. Since Vitamin E is responsible for protecting the body from eye disorders like this, it is important to make sure that you get your daily amount each day. Skeletal Myopathy can also result from a deficiency. This condition is categorized by weakness in the muscles and skeleton.
Vitamin E can be found in oils. Krill oil is virtually tasteless and it is a bounty of vitamins and minerals. While it is most known for containing Omega 3, a daily serving of krill oil can also get you a portion of your other essentials including Vitamin E. Vitamin E is vegetarian and vegan friendly. It can also be found in a variety of plant-sources. Since the vitamin is fat-soluble, you can cook any of these ingredients without worrying about losing some of the nutrients to the heat. Avocados, leafy greens, fruits, nuts, and wheat all contain Vitamin E. You can also pick up a supplement at the pharmacy to give you a boost!
The benefits of Vitamin E are absolutely free so make sure you’re taking the most advantage of them each and every day. All vitamins are important to understand and consider. By building a vitamin-rich diet, you can be a healthier and stronger person.
Writer’s Bio
Meet Jane Grates.

jane-grates

Jane:  new best friend material.  🙂

Jane is an award-winning web lover and the co-manager of RunnerclickMonica’s Health Mag, and Janes Kitchen Miracles (<– Go check out that site!  So cool!).
Jane is a travel scholar, writer, health enthusiast, and food and health practitioner.

Finding Inspiration

I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s.  And back then, we didn’t have cable at home.  And certainly, we didn’t have overwhelming channels that today’s folks have to choose from.  But, we had a few staple television shows that were watched – The Cosby Show, Who’s the Boss? (my favorite), Growing Pains, etc.  And I was obsessed with teeny-bopper magazines that showcased all my crushes (Kirk Cameron and Michael J. Fox), and potential best-friends (Alyssa Milano).  The famous were beautiful.

When Full House made its way to my television. I instantly was in awe of Candace Cameron.  Aside from the fact that she was Kirk Cameron’s little sister AND had had a small guest appearance on Who’s the Boss?, she was the first girl I’d seen on TV that looked like me: cute curls, a little chubby, and with the “Charlie Brown cheeks” that she referred to in a later episode*.  It was wonderful that I could finally identify with someone on TV and in magazines.  I was elated.

young-cc

How cute was she?

Although Candace said she never had an issue with her weight while filming early in the seasons, season 4 of Full House aired an episode called *”Shape Up”, in which DJ goes on a crash diet to slim down for a pool party.  This was an emotional episode for me for me to watch.  Although my eating disorders didn’t begin until a year or two later, I could completely relate to how DJ was feeling and could already see my own disordered eating and outlook.  (Note: While preparing this post, I re-watched the episode for the first time in likely 20 years and had the same emotional response I had the first time it aired.  To this day, it breaks my heart because I know the struggle and I know that most little girls have and will continue to have this struggle at some point in life.)

Later on, Ms. Cameron Bure declared she developed eating disorders a few years after the show had finished filming.  (Although, she states that it had less to do with her weight and more to do with where she was in her life, emotionally and physically.)

Since her days of self-destruction, Candace Cameron Bure has completely changed her body and her health.  She has an incredible workout regime, and one of the best (celebrity) trainers, Kira Stokes, as her own.  And I have found inspiration in them both.

These two have some of the best workouts I have seen.  As a trainer – and a trainee – I am often looking for ways to keep workouts fresh, innovative, and fun.  And these two ladies sometimes help me get there.

candace-and-kira

Candace Cameron Bure and trainer Kira Stokes (photo via Cameron Bure’s Instagram)

 Aside from gaining inspiration for my workouts, I have found inspiration in Candace  herself, from how she approaches fitness and clean eating and even spiritual health.  Three topics I already have in common with her.  Her approach to how she keeps her body lean and how she looks at her muscle and her strength is refreshing and it’s nice to actually see and hear a celebrity talk about it all and show how much dedication it takes her to keep her body in tip-top shape.  Especially when so many celebrities make the claim “I eat whatever I want and don’t work out.”  Pffftt!!

candace-cameron-3-times

Via US

Although Candace Cameron Bure is a celebrity and she has personal trainers and has appeared on Dancing with the Stars where she spent endless hours each day for endless months dancing non-stop, she is also a woman who has worked incredibly hard to get to get and keep a strong, toned, lean body.  Believe me – that takes work!  And, again, I find it inspiring that she has been so inclined to share her journeys with us, the public.  Through her books and her social media accounts and her television appearances, she has been delightful in showing us that if you set a  goal – and work for it – it can be reached.

And what’s even more delightful, and something I have found truly inspiring since I was a pre-teen, is that when she was a young actress and already a very public figure, she never had issue with her body – even, as it has been stated, when other people had. She was a great role model in childhood and continues to be a role model in adulthood.

I will continue to find inspiration from her.  Where do you find yours?

~FB

Instant Results

I saw this meme the other day on my Facebook feed and I thought how true it is and has been for many of us.

instant-results

We’re just entering our second week of 2017 and, as most people do, many of us have also made New Year’s Resolutions.  (Have you?  Tell me about them.)

I almost never make resolutions for the new year because I know I’m more than likely setting myself up for failure.  (Stop swearing.  Yeah right!)

Instead, this time I have have made the decision and commitment to work harder on my strength training this year.  For Christmas I had received a free-standing boxing bag, something I have wanted for a long time.  I was ecstatic Christmas morning.  And I have been utilizing it this past week like crazy.

In addition to the boxing, I am going to continue to my strength training in the gym (and at home) with lifting weights and, hopefully, continuously increasing the weight.  Of course, this part will depend on how my back fares.  I wretched it again just this morning while shoveling snow.  Sometimes I feel like it’s never going to heal.  But, that being said, I will work on my strength while doing my best not to injure myself any further.

work-for-it

My Whole 30 60 (I am aiming big this time) also starts tomorrow morning and I have been so excited to get going.  Don’t get me wrong, I am going to miss chocolate and those dreamy peppermint mochas, but I know how wonderful I feel when doing a Whole and committing myself to completely clean eating for 60 days has me on edge in all the good ways.

But see – this is the point of this post.  Instant results would be fabulous!  But it’s just not realistic.  Oprah said years ago on her show that if there were a pill out there to make her lose weight she would be on it!  But, unfortunately, there is no magic pill. You have to work for it.  You have to.  The only instant result you get is making the choice to change your life.

That’s right, in one instant you can change your life.  You can commit yourself to a better lifestyle – to eating cleaner, to sleeping more, to getting enough water to drink, and to exercising.

30-minutes

Even 20 minutes a day can change your life!

Many years ago, when I was overweight and at my heaviest, I made that commitment. And, as you know, I haven’t looked back.  I have changed my life.

At first, I had a hard time getting through my workouts.  I was panting and huffing and puffing.  I could barely get through three minutes.  But I kept at it and I worked my way up to 10, 20, 30, 60, 120 minutes.  I have often said that 20 minutes a day can change your life  and I stick by that.  You do not need to spend hours upon hours in the gym.  But you do have to do something.  Start off with a goal of even 5 minutes a day.  Work your way up to 10 or 20 minutes over the weeks.  See how different you feel, how easier it is to breathe, how harder you can go.  Feel the difference in your body and how your clothes fit.  Commit yourself to one month.  Give yourself 30 days of eating better and working out even 3 times a week.  I challenge you* to do that. Thirty days is not a long time.  But those thirty days can change your life.

You have to work for it.

~Fit Bitch

*Anyone accepting my challenge, please feel free to comment or email me and let me know you’ve accepted the challenge, or if you want fitness tips, instructions, workout ideas, or nutritional advice/healthy eating coaching.

Why I’m Waiting to do the Whole 30

whole30header

If you have been reading this blog for a while you will note that I love the Whole 30 program.  Seriously, I am absolutely in love with it.   (If you’re not familiar with the program, go check out the website: Whole30.)

I love the food I get to eat and the way I feel when I’m doing it.  And I love how proud I am when I’ve finished it.  In fact, I love it so much that I’ve been super excited to get started on a Whole 30 in early 2017.

I’ve noticed that there are currently tons and tons of challengers out there – all who started their programs on January 1st.  And I applaud them.

Me, however, I have opted to wait a week.  Because I’ve done the program so many times over the last year and a half, I know that if I had started on New Year’s Day I would have been setting myself up for failure.  With so much “junk” in my system throughout the month of December (wine, chocolate, cookies, wine, wine, wine), I knew that I would need to ease my way out of Christmas goodness for a good week before jumping into my 30 days.  Which, by the way, I am hoping to turn into a Whole 60. *fingers crossed*

I didn’t eat terribly the entire month, but I did have way more sugar than I normally would.  I mean, everywhere I looked there was chocolate.  And I had more wine date (with and without others!) then necessary.  In fact, I have had more wine in the last month than I have had in the last 3 months.  (And that’s still not saying a lot.)

This week I have been omitting most of the holiday garbage…limiting the chocolate, omitting the other sweets, cutting out down the wine.  And by the weekend, I will have all of it out of my system.

I am really stoked to get going on this though.  And, to top it off, my boyfriend bought me the Whole 30 Cookbook for Christmas and intends on trying the program with me this time.

Whole30Cookbook.png

Another fitness wish come true.  🙂

I really encourage anyone who is planning to do the Whole 30 to read the book.  Spend the money and read it.  It’s worth it.  It may change your life!  I have truly benefited from this program and I think everyone can go clean for 30 days – even just once.

The basis of the program is to eliminate food cravings, sugar dependency, and systemic inflammation.  “Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.”

This is not a cleanse – that’s what you have a liver for.  This is a program to help you rid yourself of all the garbage that is unnecessary in our current diets and destroy the sugar dragon.

If you’re interested in the program, definitely check out the website or the book.  And if you have any questions about my experiences with it, please send me a note.

~FB

 

 

Getting Strong

Getting Strong

I saw this meme the other day and instantly thought “YES!”

I can attest to its truth.

You see, for years, I wanted to get fit, healthy, strong.  But I wasn’t ready.  Yes, I wanted it, but, I was embarrassed and ashamed of who I was – on the outside.  I had struggled with my weight my entire life and my insecurities prevented me from really going for the gold with my weight loss.

Instead, I succumbed to eating disorders of many variations, to extreme diets, to weight loss supplements of all forms.  When I exercised it was in secret and privacy and for vanity, not for my health.

For several years now I have carried the mantra “If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight“, and I cling to that.

When I finally joined a gym more than 10 years ago I would get up at the butt-crack of dawn, before the sun was up, and would sneak off for my workout while the rest of the world was still sleeping.  Even then, I was exercising for the wrong reasons.  It was still about vanity.  And I didn’t lose any weight.

It wasn’t until at least a year later when I decided to change my life.  That’s when the changes came.  That’s when I decided to put the work in.  Wrapping my head around that in this moment is so easy, but way back then, I just didn’t get it.

When I started to exercise and changed my eating habits, it was for my health.  And I was putting the work in.  And you know what?  The changes came so quickly.  My health improved and my insecurities subsided (to a point) and I finally felt good.  I fell in love with my life.  And with exercise.  I got over my fears of what people would think of me if they saw me on the treadmill or lifting weights or on the rowing machine.  I got over myself, essentially.  I didn’t look to anyone else for inspiration; I looked at myself.  I inspired me.  My life was worth more than how I had treated it before hand.

Sometimes it can be scary venturing into new or unknown territory.  But your health is more important than being afraid to ask someone for guidance.  Or fearing what others might think of you.  In all honesty, when I’m at the gym I’m not worried about what others are doing there (unless they’re hogging equipment).  I’m there to improve myself.  I’m not there to judge anyone.  And more than likely, the people at your gym aren’t concerned with what you’re doing.

I know, from personal experience, that when I feel like I look better, I actually feel better about myself (back to that vanity thing).  If that means swiping on some lipstick or revving up in cute (although durable) new workout gear, like Adore me, then so be it.  Do what you’ve gotta do to motivate yourself; to encourage yourself; to love yourself.

Don’t be afraid to go for that jog or kick the soccer ball around or try a Zumba class.  Step out of your comfort zone.  Get out of your head.  Give yourself a break.  And just do it already.  Your life is worth it.

Fit Bitch

 

Be The Fire

On Fire

Just kidding!  It’s really not that bad.

I think, for many, there is a preconceived notion that exercise and good nutrition is hard.  And it’s not worth the struggle.  The truth:  YES, it can be hard.  There are some days when you will feel like your legs are on fire from the squats and lunges, or your abs will be burning from the planks, crunches, or cuts, or your triceps will be screeching hot from the push-ups and dips.  But think about it.  Aren’t you worth it??  With everything in the entire world to focus on, shouldn’t you make yourself the primary focus?

You don’t have to commit to working out every minute of every day, or eat clean entirely.  But make the commitment that you deserve more.  Remind yourself that your body is your temple and treat it with love and respect.  Nurture it inside and out (aka nutrition and exercise), and, certainly, indulge it here and there.

For many of us, losing the weight isn’t the struggle.  That’s not where the fire is.  No, the struggle is loving yourself and accepting yourself, and acknowledging your worth.  It takes time – and believe me, I know it is often still a constant battle – but we are all worth it.

So, dive in, head first, and start that fire burning.  And eventually, hopefully, that hell will become your haven.

~Fit Bitch

Healthy (Compliant) Cookies

I have a little more left to go on my current Whole 30 and I have to say, this one has been easy.  Eating healthy, whole foods and eliminating sugar and processed food from my diet is like breathing these days.  I have not had any cravings this round (although, I am very much looking forward to some sushi in a few weeks).

Last night, however, I decided to make some cookies.  These cookies were amazeballs!  They are 100% healthy and 100% Whole 30 compliant so they’re even better.

And – they’re super simple to make.

  • 1 and a half mashed banana
  • 1 tablespoon of raw cocoa
  • 1 handful of unsweetened coconut (shredded)
  • 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of raisins* (optional)

After the banana is mashed, mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Then spoon onto a greased or lined baking sheet (I dabbed some coconut oil on mine) and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Cookie 1

Last night I made my them with raisins.  They were good but I don’t know if I’d add the raisins again – they made the cookies a little too sweet for me.  The next batch I’m going to eliminate the raisins or substitute them for raw cocoa nibs.  Or even try mixing some sunflower seed butter into the batter.  There are so many options for these yummy little treats.

Try them, and make them your own.

#yum

~Fit Bitch