Day 18 – Stay Positive

Day 18 – Stay Positive

Hand lettered text. 3d Stay Positive. Inspirational poster. Design element for print, clothing design.

Positive Thinking (and speaking and acting) can improve your mental, physical, and emotional health and wellness. Positive emotions have been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being in numerous scientific studies. On the other hand, chronic anger, worry, and hostility increase the risk of developing heart disease, as people react to these feelings with raised blood pressure and stiffening of blood vessels.

Here are a few tips on staying positive:

Write in a gratitude journal every day.  Make sure to be specific!  A number of studies have found gratitude to be linked with positive emotions, and overall well-being, and life satisfaction.

Listen to happy-sounding music.  Research has shown that music activates the region of the brain that releases the feel good chemical dopamine and also relaxes the body.  So “happy” music can in fact make you feel happier!  Seriously….who can listen to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams or “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift and not just feel like you want to dance and smile.

Share positivity by sending one thank-you email or doing one kind act every day. There are several studies that show that acts of kindness can boost happiness, reduce depression, and even help you live longer.

Challenge your negative thinking.  Ask yourself, “Is there another more positive way I could view this?”  Studies have shown that being able to think optimistically is good for your health and well-being.

Optimists are also better problem solvers and better at accepting bad situations.

Smile.  It might sound simplistic, but research has shown that it actually helps you feel happier.  Feedback sent to the brain from facial muscles can actually impact the development of emotions and the effect is even stronger if you combine the smile with a positive thought.  So smile!

Follow your passion.  Do something you feel excited about.  Volunteer for a cause you believe in or sign up for a class to learn something new.  Several studies have shown that people who feel a sense of meaning in their life are healthier, live longer, and have greater life satisfaction.

You don’t have to let bad news and negativity ruin your day.  You have a choice about where you focus your attention and how you choose to respond to any situation.  Try incorporating these tips into your life and I’m confident you’ll see how the positives outweigh the negatives.

~FB

Day 9 – Go Meatless

Day 9 – Go Meatless

go_meatless

Going meatless, even just once to a few times a week, can have a tremendous impact on your health. You don’t have to cut all animal products out of your life cold-turkey, but decreasing the amount of meat and increasing the amount of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole-grains that you eat can do wonders for your health and the health of the environment.

Don’t get me wrong (or hate me), I am a full-on meat eater.  But eliminating meat from meals every once in a while can be great.  It can be time-saving, money-saving, and health-beneficial.  You don’t have to sacrifice deliciousness because you’re eliminating meat.  Have you ever tried a whole roasted herbed cauliflower or a vegetable burger? Mmmmm.

Go ahead and expand your horizons by making full meals solely out of plants.  You’ll be surprised with the plethora of ideas and recipes you can find or come up with.

~FB

Day 8 – Pack A Lunch

Day 8 – Pack a Lunch

 

Save money and eat healthier by packing your own lunch. (This is your challenge today but you can plan it for tomorrow.  ) Knowing exactly what’s in your food and ensuring it’s nutritious can give you some peace of mind when it comes time for your lunch break. Save time by preparing your food the night before or the morning of (rather than spending time heading to pick up some grub and waiting in line) can also free up time to socialize or take a lunch-time walk.

I am not one of those people who spend all day Sunday prepping meals for the week (or month!).  I honestly just can’t put the effort in.  But, I know that many of you benefit from this.  It can help you achieve goals of healthy eating; and if it allows you more free time during the week, then I say kudos to you.  There are some evenings when I’ll prepare dinner and lunch for the new couple of days; this usually occurs when I’m participating in a Whole 30 (like right now).  If I am eliminating sugar and processed foods from my diet, then prepping my lunch meals (or meals for evenings away from the home) is a must – because I want to know exactly what’s in my ingredients and want to be certain I am maintaining compliance.

In addition to eating healthier when brown-bagging it, preparing my lunch also allows me time to do other things on my lunch break – whether that’s go for a walk or run errands or just spend time with friends or alone….it means I’m not running around looking for something to eat, waiting in lines or for a server.  My time, as I’m sure yours is as well, is valuable and I don’t want to waste a minute.

~FB

 

Day 6 – Unplug!

Day 6 – UNPLUG!

unplug 2

As much as I love my phone, the internet, and social media, I also truly believe it is ruining us. It’s killing our relationships with others, our abilities to communicate, socialize, and engage, and it can be absolutely atrocious for our self-esteem. So take today and UNPLUG. Turn off your gadgets for 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or the whole day! Focus on your surroundings, who you’re with, and what you can do. Engage. Get some freakin’ clarity.

unplug

JUST SAY NO!

Happy Unplugging.

Day 2 – Create a Healthy Daily Habit

Day 2 – Create a Healthy Daily Habit

Day 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether that means going for a walk in the morning, drinking your coffee black, taking the stairs, sneaking in more greens, or spending time off-line and engaging more with others (or yourself), commit to making it (whatever *it* is) a part of your daily routine and stick with it. Remember that it takes time (about 21 days) to form a habit so don’t give up in your first week.

~FB

Healthy Snacking

I am not 100% healthy all the time.  I admit it.  I am human and occasionally, I like to indulge in snacks that are not the healthiest choices.  (Who doesn’t like popcorn at the movies?)

But most of the time, I try to be very conscious of what I’m eating and I like to know what I’m putting in my body.  So, when it comes to snacking and making those healthier choices (and opting not to stick to just fruit or vegetables), I often like to go the homemade route.

My recent obsession are homemade protein nut butter cups.  They’re made with just a few ingredients – dark chocolate or cocoa or chocolate protein powder, coconut oil, and nut butter of choice (I use almond hazelnut).  Melt and mix and freeze.  Easy peasy.

Protein-PB-Cup

I’m also a huge fan of making my own “Larabars“.  It’s definitely a lot cheaper than buying actual Larabars, and I can throw in whatever I want.  I also like healthy cookie dough dip (made with chickpeas but you’d never know it!) and black bean brownies.

And, in the summer when it’s super hot, I might make a little “nice cream” – a healthier version of ice cream made with frozen bananas.  This is a great compromise for people like me who are also allergic to dairy.

Knowing exactly what I’m eating is definitely important to me, not only because of the obvious benefits of eating healthier and cleaner and knowing my ingredients, but also because I can eliminate as much garbage from my diet as possible.  This is especially important when I’m following the Whole 30 Program and eliminating sugar and processed “foods” and other junk.

However, as I said, I am human and I do like to indulge on occasion.  But that doesn’t have to equal eating garbage.  There are plenty of healthier options on the market – even for your favorite “junk foods”.

For example, Amplify Snack Brands – the makers of Skinny Pop popcorn – have some wonderful snack products that are comparable in taste to your regular snacks, but without the garbage and the guilt.  Their Paqui Tortilla Chips use non-GMO corn, are trans-fat free, are nut, soy, and Gluten-free, have no MSG, and are certified Kosher.  Oh, and they come in a bunch of crazy flavors (Haunted Ghost Pepper, anyone?).

Amplify also in their roster, Oatmega Bars – grass-fed whey protein bars offered in a plethora of flavors – and Tyrrell’s Hand Cooked Potato Chips– which offers “no iffy ingredients”.  And of course, let’s not forget the  Skinny Pop brand of popcorn and other products, which are also “free of all those things, including GMOs, MSG, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, and Gluten”.

As you can see, there are many options on the market for snacking better and it’s commendable to see companies with a conscience – ones that care about our health and the ingredients they choose to put into their products (and therefore, that we put into our bodies).

So, if you’re on the go or not able to making your own healthy snacks (or have no interest in it), check out Amplify Brands (or at the very least, ensure you check your labels for ingredients on your snack foods) to see what product might become your next favorite snack.

Be kind to your body and what you put into it.

~FB

Staying Inspired

I have been having a very emotional and stressful week.  I normally am an upbeat person and always on the go, so when stress and lethargy run high in me, I’m not sure of the best outlet. Because I normally don’t deal with it.
Earlier this week my cat of 12 years started seizing and his health is in jeopardy and I’m a basket case. Dealing with my own heart condition is one thing, dealing with a heart condition in a very loved pet is another.  The thought of losing my long-time companion has me feeling like I’ve been punched in the heart.  Literally.  This pain is real and it’s taking my breath away.
And although I haven’t had much of an appetite lately, part of me has been thinking about comforting my pain by stuffing my head with chocolate and all that kind of goodness.
Oddly enough, a new-found friend has also been suffering through an emotional and stressful week – probably the hardest one he’s had in a very long time , but instead of easing his pain with the kind of garbage one would find in comfort food (like my craving for all that is chocolate), he turned down my offer of coffee and a pastry and instead kept to his healthy journey.  What a man!  What an inspiration.
Josh's lunch

This is his actual lunch – I was very jealous!!

So…thanks to him, I said no to drowning my sorrows in chocolate and red wine and instead picked up some carrot sticks and hummus.  I don’t yet have the appetite, or frankly the desire to eat anything, but when I’m ready, my healthy choices have already been made.
~FB

Whole 30 Experience – Days 19 thru 23

Day 19

I skipped my walk this morning and attempted to sleep in, but I basically got up at the same time and got some things done around the house before heading out to work and away for the weekend.  (I settled on a mini-walk around town before work started.)  For breakfast I had two eggs and coffee.

Throughout the morning, I snacked on and off on plantains – and I had a second cup of coffee.

For lunch I had a piece of fish and left over zucchini.  I also snacked on some apple slices mid-afternoon.

I had a Larabar post-workout, and for dinner I had some broccoli with beef.

Later in the evening I snacked on half a dragon fruit and some plantains.

Day 20

Today was my day off – from work and from working out!  Loved it…but I always feel a little guilty about not working out.

For breakfast I had 2 eggs and a breakfast sausage, and of course, coffee.

I spent most of the day in the City doing some shopping and celebrating a birthday, so for dinner out I had a small steak with onions, mixed veggies, and potato.  This was a really great meal out and it kept me satisfied and feeling full all night.  Which worked out well because I had a wedding reception to go to and there was food and booze and dessert…and this gal did not indulge in any of it.  I just enjoyed the company and the atmosphere.

Day 21

Breakfast this morning was one egg, a breakfast sausage, a very small peach, and coffee.

At lunch, I hit the gym and then did some grocery shopping as I’m getting a little bored with veggies and meat.  I also picked up some pumpkin spice coffee because I am a nut for everything pumpkin.  (I also found some pumpkin spice wafers but I’m not able to eat them until October.)

Post-gym/post-shopping, I snacked on a Larabar to tide me over until dinner.  I spent the weekend away so I had some cleaning and laundry and food making to do.  When I finally had dinner, I made a fish taco bowl.  I’ve never made this before but it was so good and I’m definitely going to be making it again.

I had large leaf romaine lettuce (which formed the bowl inside my bowl, but eventually, I made into tacos), diced cucumer and green peppers (I thought I had red onion, but I was wrong – next time, onion for sure), baked haddock, and baked heirloom tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, diced black olives. I tossed in a handful of the veggies on top of the lettuce, then added the fish, and spooned some pesto onto it, and added in some avocado, then tossed on some more veggies.  SO GOOD!

Taco

I was sort of bored last night and decided to make Whole 30 compliant cookies/pancakes (they’re pretty flat).  I mashed up two bananas, mixed in two eggs, and some cinnamon.  I blended it up really well then poured it onto a baking sheet and tossed in the oven.  Once they were cooked, I ate two of them. They’re not bad.

Day 22

This morning was a walk/run before work.  It was cool and dark (still dark when I got back home) and the only bad thing about being outside this morning was that a skunk had been hit right by my house.  I could smell it all thru the neighborhood.  I was trying to plug my nose while running but 1. it’s not easy/it’s hard to breathe thru panting and a closed nose 2. I really must have looked stupid to the passersby.

This morning I was happy to (finally) indulge in some pumpkin spice coffee!  So excited. For breakfast I had two eggs and one of my cookies/pancakes with some homemade pumpkin butter spread on.

Pumpkin Butter
 
What You Need:
2 15-ounce cans plain (organic) pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 cup good quality apple juice or apple (I diced mine and threw them in the food processor)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of cloves
pinch of nutmeg
 
To Make:
if cooking in a saucepan:
put all ingredients into a saucepan, and bring to a boil, immediately after mixture comes to a boil, reduce to low, partially cover to (help prevent splattering) and simmer about 30 minutes stirring frequently. The pumpkin butter is done when is is slightly darker in color, and you can run a knife through it and the line will stay in the butter. Allow to cool. Store in the fridge or freezer.
 
if cooking in a crock pot:
place all ingredients in a crock pot, and cook on low for a whole day, about 10 hours. Once finished cooking, stir, and let cool. Store in the fridge or freezer

For lunch today I had Eggs in Purgatory – which is a simpler take on Shashuka.  I love this dish.  It’s warm and, although it’s only tomatoes and eggs (I also added mushrooms and spices), it’s hearty.  I have made it with meat before – sometimes chicken and sometimes ground beef or sausage removed from the casings.  It’s really good.  If you like eggs, then I suggest you try this dish.

I had a Larabar mid-afternoon as a pre-workout snack.  And for dinner, I made cauliflower rice stir-fry with chopped up sausage.  Before dinner, I also had 2 of my pancakes with pumpkin butter.  And later in the evening, I snacked on a handful of coconut bites.

Day 23

This morning I was up at 20 to 6 to meet a friend for a pre-work run.  We walked/ran for just under 5k.  We could have gone further but she has to be to work an hour before I do, so we headed back before 7.  Great morning tho and we’re intending to do it again tomorrow.

I had my regular breakfast of coffee and two eggs.  For some reason, this morning they were extra spectacular and tasty.

Once I got to work, I snacked off and on on nuts and cranberries.

For lunch I had leftover Eggs in Purgatory and a lot of water.  I was really full.

Late afternoon, I ate a mango as a pre-workout snack.

Post-workout, I made Pumpkin Cauliflower Rice-otto (instead of risotto).  Oh.Em.Gee.  I’ve made regular pumpkin risotto before, and the cauliflower-rice version is just as good. And super easy to prepare:

Risotto

Here’s my recipe:

I sauteed 1/3 onion and 3 small garlic cloves in ghee (clarified butter) – but you can certainly use olive oil.  I sauteed them for a few minutes then added in 1/2 cup of mushrooms.  Once that was sauteed for about 2 minutes, I dumped in a big bowl of riced cauliflower…I used up what I had left which worked out to be about 2 cups.  The regular calls for vegetable or chicken stock, but for the healthier version I just added in water. You have to add in a bit of water every few minutes and stir it in.  Eventually, I also added in some more ghee, about a half a teaspoon.   Cook the rice for about 7 minutes and then add in the pumpkin.  Because I had so much rice, I used close to a cup and a half.  Mix it and keep an eye on it.  You may have to add a little more water (the cauliflower is very absorbent).  Cook for another 5-7 minutes, add in salt and pepper, and serve.

I have to also admit that, since I went shopping after teaching my boot camp class, and by the time I showered and did laundry and was making dinner, I totally snacked on some plantains and coconut.  🙂

~FB

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte

I am a huge pumpkin spice fan.  Huge.  In fact, I look forward to this time of year – all the time!  I am obsessed with everything pumpkin and I love me a good pumpkin spice latte.

Pumpkin-Spice-Latte

That being said, although I love a good PSL, they aren’t the healthiest option and are loaded with sugar (and who knows what else!).  So, if I deem myself favoring one, it is definitely a treat.  In the meantime, if I feel like I want to partake in the seasonal goodness, I make my own healthier version of a Pumpkin Spice Latte (I made one this morning).

Here’s what you need

  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1-3 tbsp pumpkin purée (I went on the side of 3 tbs)
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla (not vanilla extract)
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
  • tiny pinch ground nutmeg
  • tiny pinch ground ginger
  • ½ cup strong coffee
  • *1-3 dates
  1. Add the milk and pumpkin to a small pot. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture begins to simmer. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg (*if you like your latte a bit sweeter, this is where you add the dates. Let them simmer in the wet mixture and they will literally sweeten the pot). Whisk the mixture until it becomes frothy.
  2. Add the coffee to a large mug, and pour the milk mixture on top.
  3. If you fancy yourself a Frappuccino type, let both the pumpkin mixture and the coffee cool (make the night before and let sit in the fridge), toss in the blender or Bullet with some cubes of ice and blend away.

If you want to make your drink even fancier by adding whipped cream, make this healthy version:

  1. One can of full fat coconut milk (Put in freezer to freeze). Once it’s frozen, remove and let sit in room temperature for 30 minutes.  Flip the can upside down and open from the bottom.  The coconut water separates from the milk (you can save the water to drink or for other recipes).
  2. Dump the coconut milk into a mixing bowl (or blender) and whip it on high until you get a nice whippy, fluffy consistency. Add in a little vanilla (or a dusting of Stevia or teaspoon of date water if you prefer it a bit sweeter) and continue whipping.
  3. Add the whip to your drink and dust with cinnamon.

~FB

Slaying the Sugar Dragon

SugarDragon

I finished my last Whole30 in May and it was a really great 30 days of strictly clean eating – with the exception of having a small sliver of cake at my grandfather’s 99th birthday party.  I fully acknowledged I would possibly being doing that prior to starting my 30 days in May and I fully made amends with it.  I have done the Whole 30 program so many times over the last two years and I decided that if I wanted to have a piece of cake with my grandfather to celebrate his 99th birthday, I darn well would!  And without the guilt (although I did feel some) and without restarting the program.  Like I said, I’ve committed to 30 days many times in the past and this one indulgence was an exception to the rule.

THEWHOLE30

This book changes everything!

But, since I finished those 30 days and since the start of summer, I feel like I have been overindulging way too much.  I feel sluggish and fat and bloated and kinda disgusting.  So, I decided last week that I would start a new Whole 30 this coming week.

At first I was okay with it.  Then I was feeling a little panicky because I’ve been enjoying my treats this summer.  And that right there is the problem!  Too many treats!  the sugar dragons are slaying me and I need to change that around.  So, now I’m back on board and fully excited about starting fresh on Monday.  I literally cannot wait.

So why wait?  I’m sure you’re asking.  Because I need to get ready.  To be honest, I (personally) don’t find the Whole 30 program that hard.  There have been a few times in the past that I struggled a bit with cravings, but most of the times I’ve done the program, I have been A-OK.  And I’m pretty stubborn, so when I commit myself to doing something like this, I fully commit to it.  That being said, it’s not something I want to jump into.  I need a couple of days to plan it out.  I need to think about food choices and meals and preparation and “it’s still summer and where am I gonna be next week?” types of things.

But I’m ready.  And I am motivated and committed and I can’t wait.  And each time I look in the mirror and I see that weird little belly bloat, it gives me the kick-in-the-butt-motivation I need to ensure I go through with it.

Sugar Dragon

That’s me slaying the beast…I’m the one in pink.

If you haven’t tried this program, I encourage you to do so.  It’s only for 30 days and it can help you rid your body of bloat and inflammation and possibly even excess weight.  The benefit of ridding yourself of sugar cravings and having food freedom – even for only 30 days – can make it all worthwhile.  And you don’t have to skimp on meals or count calories. You get to eat delicious, fresh and whole foods.  And you can experiment with different foods or food combination.  I have never felt less than satisfied when doing a Whole 30.  And Pinterest is a great place to find recipes, guidance (although I fully recommend that you read the book The Whole 30, it might change your life), meal ideas, etc.  Here’s a link for some great lunch ideas.

If you’re not ready to try 30 days of clean eating, maybe ask yourself why.  What would you be afraid of?  That chocolate cake or ice cream sundae will still be there in a month’s time. Going without processed mayo (Whole 30 has several recipes for mayo) is not going to end you.  Check out the book and the website and consider giving it a try.  And if you have any questions, comment below or shoot me an email

~Cheers.

 

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