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

 

Start

Happy Monday Morning!!

Today is the start of a brand new day…and week.  So why not make the decision that today will be the day you change your life.

Bad Workout

Deciding to start a fitness program or healthy lifestyle does not mean you have to commit to running a marathon or hitting the gym every day or signing up for an intense boot camp class (though, you’re more than welcome to come to mine!).  You can start your brand new life by going for small walk around your block or adding in the Commercial Break Workout to your TV watching routine or even, since it’s summer, going for a swim.

Just do something.

I promise you that if you started adding a little fitness (and healthier eating) into your life your body will thank you.  And soon enough, your body will crave it.  Chances are you will feel more energized and happy and excited…and proud.

So, Happy Monday!  Make today the day you change your life.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earn Your Steps

I love me a good FitBit challenge.  If you can recall, a month or so ago I had to opt out of some challenges as I was getting a little burnt out with working, teaching and participating in classes, training, hiking, and trying to be numero uno in all the challenges I accepted. But, that being said, I do love the challenges.

FitBit

Via FitBit

The great thing about FitBit challenges, I find, is that they keep me motivated (not that I need any motivation when it comes to fitness).  But, sometimes I’ll be sedentary for too long at work or if I’m enamored in a great book and I look forward to that FitBit alert to give me the little nudge I need to get off my butt and do something.

That’s the thing with these challenges though…you have to do something.  Unfortunately, there are people who are more caught up with winning the challenge that they’re resorting to cheating (and yes – walking around your living room is getting your steps in, but seriously, are you actually earning your steps? No!) just to take over first place.  Funny thing about that is a) you’re making me work harder, that’s for sure…and if I’ve earned second place, I’m okay with that  b) If you’re resorting to cheating in any form to win a freakin’ FitBit step challenge, more than likely I can out-lift you, out-run you, and out-burpee you any darn day of the week.

What’s totally awesome about the step challenges is that it can bring a small community of people together to work harder at their health and push each other to strive for their best.  I’ve made some friends via FitBit challenges and we’ve helped each other step up (pun!) our game.

FitBitters

FitBit Besties….

So, if you’re one of those people who somehow manage to get 6,000 steps at 10 minutes to midnight by roaming around your living room (or any other measure of cheating), think about it next time why you’re doing what you’re doing.  Is it to be in first place?  Is it to have bragging rights?  (<- If that’s the case then maybe you should review your life and find out what’s missing in it.)  And instead of being a jerk and cheating your way to first place, you should focus your energies on earning your steps and motivating yourself so that you can win first place.  Earn it people.  Own it!

~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

Triumph

Personal Triumph

Many of my days are spent thinking about my workouts.  My next workout.  Sometimes I am so darn excited I can’t get it out of my head.  I’ll spend my entire work day anticipating getting to the gym.  And I love my job, so it’s not like I’m watching the clock for the day to end so I can get the heck outta there, I just really, really can’t wait to get to my happy place.

Let me clear, the gym is not my only happy place, but it sure does change my mood!

How I feel about the gym these days is a lot different than how I felt years ago when I wrote about my addiction to exercise.  Back then, though it was just a couple of years ago, it was an addiction.  I was obsessed with when I was going to exercise next and was working out several times a day, every day.  Now, I’m just excited about my fitness goals and the tasks in front of me and how I feel after I’ve completed the workout.  I’m not dissing my workout goals when I was addicted because I had great goals and I thoroughly enjoyed my workouts.  I think my biggest problem then was that it was controlling me and almost every move I made.  (Cue The Police’s Every Breath You Take.)

These days when I plan a routine for the gym – or even for one of my classes – I’m taking my fitness to new levels.  I’m taking on tasks that I never thought I’d be doing – or interested in.  And when I’m finished, when my time is finally up and I’m ready to leave, I am usually quite pleased with how my time was spent and with what I accomplished.

No regrets

~Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

20 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life!

20 Minutes

I’ve said this many times before.  I’ve said it over and over again and I will continue to say it over and over again.  Why?  Because I believe it.  In fact, before I began my fitness journey, someone in my life kept saying that to me.  I thought he was just being an asshole and telling me I was fat (let’s face it, y’all, I was fat!), but eventually I listened to those words and I went from there.

As I mentioned in my last post, when I first started exercising, I couldn’t make it 20 minutes.  I could barely make it 3 minutes without wanting to kill myself (or feel like I was already dying).  My goal was to make it to 20 minutes.

When I finally did make it to the 20 minute mark I was ecstatic.  And for a long time that’s where I remained.  Just at the 20 minute mark.  Eventually, I did move up and sometimes I would (and still do) work out for hours on end.  But, there are times when time is limited and 20 (or 30) minutes is all you have.  You can sit around watching TV or creeping Facebook, OR you can get up and take advantage of that little bit of time and do something that will improve your mood, your energy level, your health, and your life.

Change Your Life

This past Saturday I was pressed for time and wasn’t able to get to the gym or a class but I desperately wanted to work out.  Technically, it was supposed to be my day off, but it was rainy and gross out and I was feeling lethargic and lazy and like I needed to do something. Initially, I was supposed to do the warm up for the Relay for Life but because of the raining weather, the warm up got cancelled.  Yet, I was craving a workout.  I didn’t want to overdo it because rest days are extremely important and, I admit, I don’t always take advantage of them, but I really wanted to get in a little cardio and a little strength.  And I did.

I got my game plan ready and I had myself a sweat-inducing, heart-racing 21 minute workout right there in my boyfriend’s living room.  And it felt great.  I felt great.  I accomplished a lot in a little bit of time and carried on with the rest of my day.

So, if that’s all it takes (at the very least, to start), why not set aside 20 minutes of your day and get moving in the direction to change your life.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

Eat the Doritos*

Chips

Last year a friend was telling me how she had fallen off the fitness wagon.  She was busy with work and her kids and her life was consumed with normal life things.  Then she told me that the week prior a friend of hers was diagnosed, at age 30, with ALS.  She was so sad about this news and she said to me “I know that I need to stay fit and healthy and on track, but sometimes, I just want to eat the Doritos.”

Last week this same friend buried her mother.

This week one of my closest friend’s father passed away from a sudden massive stroke.

Several weeks ago my brother was injured badly in a motorcycle accident.  He just returned home a few days ago after spending 16 days in the hospital.  He’s very fortunate and blessed to still be with us, but he’s got a long road of recovery ahead of him.

Needless to say, the last few weeks have been overwhelming with so many tragic and stressful events all heaped together.  And believe me, I wanted to eat the Doritos!  All of them.  Well, maybe not Doritos but I certainly wanted to bury my emotions in chocolate.  And maybe I did…a little.

I am a very emotional person and I am a bit of a crybaby and sometimes when I’m trying to hold it all together I feel more and more like I’m going to fall apart.  I felt that way a bit with my brother’s accident.  He is a very strong person, physically.  He always has been.  He lifts weights and he boxes and runs and bikes and he wrestled.  He’s done it all.  And seeing him in such a state of vulnerability and completely busted and broken was, not only terrifying, but also a bit unknown to me because I don’t recall ever seeing him like that. (Not that he didn’t still have his moments of being an ass!)  So I buried most of my fear and sadness inside, had a breakdown once or twice, and then spent the rest of the time eating chocolate – followed by regular workouts.  Because I’m a bit of a freak and it seems that exercise is really the best way for me to get my aggression out.

Life is about balance.  There are times when you need comfort and sometimes food is the only place you can (or want to) find it.  And that is okay.  It’s about moderation.  You can have the Doritos, you can have the cake, you can have the Tim Bits.  You just can’t have it all all the time.

So, go ahead and eat the Doritos.

~FB

PS I’m not affiliated with Doritos

Don’t Give Up

Tried Everything

Let’s be realistic for a minute.  Results take time.  You aren’t going to do one workout or one class or one day of a change in diet and expect to drop down a bunch of sizes.  Life doesn’t work that way.  And like I’ve always said, the weight didn’t come on in a day, it shouldn’t come off in a day.

You have to work for it.

And, something else I’ve said over the years:  If you’re not willing to work for it then you’re not ready to lose the weight.

Life is not easy and losing weight is not easy.  But get in there, dig deeper, work hard, sweat, LOVE YOURSELF, and your hard work will pay off.

Tomorrow is the first day of a new week.

It’s the first day of a new you.

Hang in there.  Don’t give up.  It will seem easier.  You will get stronger.

Don’t give up.

You Got This!

~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.