Happy and Healthy 2018

As you begin a New Year (where did 2017 go?), you may be setting your mind on some much needed resolutions.  Often wondering where to begin, you may need to begin with little steps which, in time, turn into big pay-off results.  Start now to produce the quality of life you want and do it regularly.  There is no magic pill, no magic bullet, no magic in general.  You have to take the bull by the horn and do it every day for the rest of your life.  And what is “that” you may say?  Lifestyle changes that you and only you can do for yourself.  But…you have to want it.  And you have to do it.  No excuses.

Minimizing toxins in our everyday life is important.

You need clean air.  You can’t totally control the air that you breathe but you can take steps to improve the quality especially in your home.  When your home is sealed shut in winter months, toxins can build up.  The toxins from your bedding and furniture, your rugs, and heating sources stay trapped inside your home.  Yes…it’s cold outside but opening your windows on a daily basis and letting fresh air in will improve the overall quality.  You may also want to consider an air purifier.  And, what I do daily is diffuse therapeutic grade essential oils to help clean the air and boost immunity.

You also need clean water.  Dehydration can occur when you do not drink enough pure, filtered water.  Consider having your water tested to make sure you are not ingesting chemicals that can damage and cause significant illness. Drinking half your weight in ounces of water daily will be beneficial for overall hydration flushing your kidneys and hydrating your skin which often becomes dry due to over-heated homes.

Taking proper care of our bodies also consists of the many things you can do to reduce your risks such as using non-toxic products on your skin, in cleaning your home and consuming clean food.  I recommend going to http://www.ewg.org for information on clean products and the Clean15/Dirty Dozen for clean food purchases.  Eating a plant based diet full of nutrient dense whole foods consisting of 6-10 servings of vegetables and fruits daily and clean sources of protein is a must.

Winter vegetables that I recommend are:

~ Beets (and beet greens) are anti-inflammatory, high in folate, potassium, manganese and vitamin C.  Beet juice is also found to aid in reducing high blood pressure and excellent pre- and post-workout for athletes.  A favorite way of enjoying beets is diced and roasted in olive oil with thyme and sea salt.  So sweet and tender!

~ Kale is high in vitamins C, A, B6 and K, manganese, and copper.  Baby kale is tender and can be sautéed in olive oil with onion and garlic, and added to soups and salads.

~ Brussels sprouts are high in vitamins K, B6, B1 and C, folate, manganese, choline, potassium, and fiber (which everyone needs more of).  This cruciferous vegetable can be roasted individually or added in with the above mentioned beets.  YUM!!

~ Turnips are high in vitamins c, B6, manganese, potassium, and copper.  Turnips have been found to aid in lowering blood pressure, eye health, weight loss, and diverticulosis.  Turnips can be steamed and mashed (just like mashed potatoes) with a little bit of olive oil and almond milk or added to soups.

~ Broccoli, another cruciferous vegetable, is high in vitamins a, B2, B6, C and K, folate, manganese, potassium, and magnesium.  Broccoli is a well-known cancer-fighter as it contains compounds known as sulfurophane and indoles.  Enjoy steamed or sautéed in olive oil, sea salt, and garlic then topped with a little freshly-squeezed lemon juice.

~ Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.  Also a cruciferous vegetable and containing anti-cancer properties makes this an excellent choice against disease.  Steamed, sautéed, roasted, made into a “rice” and then even into a “pizza” crust – oh so many options.

Disease is preventable through lifestyle changes also consisting of physical movement daily, adequate sleep, and self-care.  We can live longer and healthier lives through regular preventive care.  You just need to remember to do it regularly!


Staying healthy during winter months

I can’t remember the last time I had the flu or even a cold (knock on wood as I’m saying this – don’t want to jinx myself!!). People around me could be coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose, and I seem to make it through with barely an issue.  If I do start to feel a bit under the weather, I move into immediate action and am able to by step an illness.

What, you might say, do I do?  I step into action by adding immune-boosting ingredients into my daily activities. Here’s what I do and I encourage you to add whatever sounds appropriate to you into your winter care regime.

Beginning in mid-October, I start diffusing therapeutic grade Thieves oil into my main large room of my home on a daily basis.  I continue this practice until @ mid- March or April depending on the illnesses that are out and about. Thieves oil is a combination of cinnamon bark, clove, lemon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils. I also clean my home with products made of Thieves oil.  Smells so wonderful!

Vitamin C is a potent immune booster and antioxidant.  When making a smoothie, I make sure to include plenty of organic fruit.  If you prefer to juice, make sure it’s fresh.  Processed fruit juice may be high in Vitamin C but it also contains plenty of sugar and preservatives.   A whole food source of Vitamin C you can use is camu camu and freshly squeezed lemon.

Throat scratchy or sore?  No worries.  Grab a teaspoon of raw local honey to coat the throat relieving a cough and sore throat discomfort.  Honey contains antioxidants, trace minerals, vitamins and amino acids.  It’s also antibacterial and antiviral.  For added protection, I’ll add a drop or two of Thieves oil to the spoonful of honey, swirl it around with a toothpick, and down the hatch it goes.  Works every time!

I love the smell of organic, cold-pressed coconut oil and incorporate it into my toolbox for its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal effects. In cool to cold weather months, coconut oil is hard so it won’t dissolve in water.  It will melt when added to warm water or can be added to your morning cup of Joe. You can also add coconut oil to smoothies or in your oatmeal.

Decrease the stress in your life as much as possible.  Physical, chemical, and emotional stress weakens your immune system.  Some stressors include but are not limited to caffeine, sugar, medications, toxins in personal care and cleaning products, drugs, alcohol, inflammatory foods, antibiotics, and sleep deprivation. There are also ways to help deal with stress through meditation, massage, yoga, tai,chi and acupuncture.

Wash your hands with pure soap and water. I do not recommend hand sanitizers or wipes as these typically contain chemicals.  Carry a natural soap in your bag or brief case for use at work or out and about.

Drink half your body weight in ounces of pure, filtered water on a daily basis for hydration.  Try not to purchase bottled water in plastic bottles as it contains xenoestrogens which can increase the risk of certain cancers and contribute to numerous health issues.  Glass jars such a Mason jars are a good option as are “covered” glass bottles or even bottle “cozies”.

Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) has antibacterial properties that can aid in common cold symptoms.  When purchasing GSE, look for a reputable company as additives are sometimes hidden inside.

This powerhouse, oil of oregano, is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal, and should be used on a short term basis only.  This oil is very potent where long term use can cause irritation to the lining of the stomach. This oil is to be used with caution if you have high blood pressure.  If any questions, consult your health care provider.  If you do not tolerate oregano oil you can substitute with olive leaf.

 Herbal tinctures that include Echinacea, golden seal, astragalus, and elderberry boost the immune system individually but can be even better when combined.  Again, consult your health care provider if you have questions.

A very simple and feel good immune booster is dry brushing.  Best time to do this is right before showering once to twice daily.  Dry brushing helps to stimulate and cleanse toxins from the lymphatic system, removes dead skin layers, tones the muscles, helps digestion, removes cellulite, stimulates circulation, increases cell renewal, and promotes a healthy glow.

Last but not least (and my favorite) consist of whole nutrient dense foods.  Eating clean foods including dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, veggies, and whole unprocessed grains (quinoa, oats) will boost your immune system.  Avoid processed foods (anything that comes in a box) as these are typically non-nutrients.

Greet winter months with layers of comfy, skin-so-soft clothes, health, and, most of all, a smile!


The Future of Women’s Health

Women utilize the health care system more than men. Women have had to be proactive about their health needs when conventional medicine leaves them at the door step. When women feel well, they feel in control and their concerns heard.

So why is it then that men continue to be more highly represented in health research, seen more quickly in emergency room visits, and taken more seriously by their health care providers than women? Yes…these aspects are improving but we still have quite a way to go to receive the care we al deserve.

Women’s health issues are not just about women. It’s about the environment, children’s health, global health, and men’s health. Chronic disease such as thyroid dysfunction, digestive issues, anxiety, obesity, and autoimmune disorders are on the rise and seen not just in women but in everyone. Some may feel these conditions are female related but more and more men and children are falling prey to these concerns as well.

If we look at infertility, for example, we have been seeing for years now a rise in the infertility rate. Women have searched for answers and have taken the health and wellness into their own hands by eating a clean diet, exercising, stress reduction, removal of environmental toxins in our beauty products and purchasing organic, non-GMO foods, and more. Recently though, studies show that male sperm count has dropped by approximately 50%!! This is not just women’s health at stake but men’s health too.

Health and wellness is all about making the patient/client feel cared for, represented, and empowered in the medical world. Sadly this has not always been found by women in search for a medical provider. Women have been searching and now beginning to find answers in the integrative and functional medicine world as they take responsibility for their own self-care, treatment regimes, and health outcomes.

Health care providers owe it to their patients/clients in providing as much information as possible so that an educated decision on health care issues can be made. Also, women (and men alike) need to take their own responsibility and search far and wide for resources and empathetic health care providers who will listen, learn and share in the fight for informed healthcare decisions. Bridging the gap between conventional and alternative health care will improve overall care not just for women but children and men alike.

Collaboration between patient and health care provider requires respect for each other’s knowledge and experience. Acknowledgement of the patient living in the body experiencing the symptoms and the health care provider’s medical training creates this collaborative arrangement.

When meeting with your health care provider go prepared by keeping a food and lifestyle journal consisting of symptoms (headache, fatigue, indigestion, insomnia, brain fog, etc.), the foods you eat and what you drink, your exercise routine, sleep patterns, elimination patterns, and anything else you can think of that may be of importance. Often times in doing this, we see patterns that are helpful indications of what may be going on and what to do next. This takes time and patience but is so well worth all the valuable information.

Patients/clients need to take responsibility for their health and healthcare. Be an active participant with your health care provider. Take charge by doing your homework and researching to the best of your capabilities to find answers. Provide information on major health events that have occurred in your life, medications you have been prescribed, past procedures, details on environment (both emotional and physical), as all of these pieces may be a part of your puzzle. No piece of information should be overlooked.

Lastly, listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, doesn’t sound right, just seems off…don’t hesitate to share your feelings and ask for clarification. This is your body and health. Don’t be shy. Take care of you!!


Cancer and you

A diagnosis of cancer can be devastating.  No one wants to hear those three words “you’ve got cancer”.  So if you or a loved one receives a cancer diagnosis, there are many steps you can take to make the going a bit easier.  Enlist the help of either a family member or close friend to be by your side and for the extra pair of ears, for support, for company during tough times.  Sure there are times you will want to be alone to think things through for yourself but that extra hug is so much needed.

Initially, you may feel that tests, treatment, and/or surgery need to be done “yesterday”.  Slow down.  Breathe.  Listen to what your heart and body is saying to you.  The breath will help to decrease stress and anxiety.  Sit comfortably with both feet flat on the floor and your hands either on both knees or placed in your lap.  Close your eyes and inhale to the count of 8…hold for the count of 8…release for the count of 8.  After a few rounds of this breathing method you will feel more in control and relaxed.

Once you receive a cancer diagnosis, begin to research the disease, oncologist(s) and other health care providers to be on your “team”.  Begin to understand what the current traditional options for treatment consist of and how to find those who may offer other/additional possibilities.  An integrative team will consist of practitioners in functional and integrative medicine.  Interview the providers you find and choose what best suits your needs.  The cancer is only a piece of what needs to be treated.  A whole body approach needs to be considered consisting of energy therapy, supplements, whole nutrient dense foods, and other possibilities to increase your immune system.

Eat whole nutrient dense foods to help decrease inflammation.  Eliminate dairy and other animal products as these can consist of hormones.  Eliminate sugar as it feeds cancer.   Research shows the average American consumes approximately 152 pounds of sugar per year.  Choose low-glycemic fruits as a dessert.  Make at least half of your plate plant rich, and (if not vegan) one quarter of your plate a lean, clean protein.  Consider purchasing a juicer and juice…juice…and juice some more.  Use organic fruit and vegetables as much as possible.  Go to www.ewg.org for information on the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen to choose appropriately.  When juicing, use a 3:1 ratio of veggies to fruit.  Adding ginger (anti-inflammatory and gut healthy) and lemon (aids in alkalinity) will add to the flavor.

The type of body care and cleaning products need to be chosen with caution.  Many personal care products contain ingredients that have not been approved by the FDA.  Companies are not required to test their products and can leave off hazardous chemicals from the ingredient list.  Many of these chemicals may increase the risk of cancer, are hormone disruptors, cause infertility and even birth defects.  Cleaning products for the home falls into the same category.  The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) provides lists of harmful chemicals.

Get up and move. Physical movement is necessary to stay strong.  Exercise boosts immunity, increases endurance, builds muscle, reduces inflammation, and provides added energy.  With daily movement, you will be better able to handle cancer treatments and procedures, and recover more quickly.  It is very important to commit to some form of exercise (yoga, Pilates, weights, swimming, Tai Chi, dance, walking) on a regular basis beginning with 10 minutes and building to 30 minutes or more.

Reduce stress.  A diagnosis of cancer can be one of the most stressful events in your life.  You need to find the best way for you to manage stress so as not to weaken your immune system, alter your sleep habits, or create more illness.  As mentioned earlier, breathing exercises is a great way to reduce many stressful situations.  Other forms of stress reduction include yoga (the added benefit of movement), meditation (even as little as 5-10 minutes is helpful), getting out in nature (again more movement), and massage ( so relaxing).  You may need to seek professional help as well since dealing with a cancer diagnosis can be extremely difficult.

Nightly restorative sleep for 7-9 hours is healing to the body allowing you to best respond to treatment(s).  If you are a coffee drinker, stop by noon.  If you drink alcohol, decrease the amount and have it with a meal.  Alcohol disrupts melatonin necessary for sleep and blood sugar levels. Start approximately one hour before you are ready to go to sleep with a nightly routine.  Take an Epsom salt bath (excellent in magnesium) with therapeutic grade essential oils, have a cup of herbal tea, or read a book/magazine.  Eliminate all electronics (TV, iPhone, computer) as these stimulate the mind.  Create a calming atmosphere.  Keep the temperature cool and dark with curtains to block all light.  Climb into bed and journal.  Write whatever comes to mind about your day. Also write about 3 things you are grateful for and why.  End with an affirmation such as “I am healing every day”.

And most importantly…believe in you.  Care and love yourself just as you are.  Be present.  Know your truth.

In the words of Buddha:

Do not dwell in the past,

Do not dream of the future,

Concentrate the mind on the present moment.


The 7 minute diagnosis

Over the years, our conventional medical system has been changing. Some say for the better…others say for the worse.  When you make an appointment to see your health care provider, you will have approximately 7 minutes in which to explain your symptoms, be examined (sometimes), and receive a diagnosis which may include blood work or other tests, and prescription(s) which may only mask symptoms or contribute to other symptoms.

Seven minutes?  That’s all? You didn’t even have the opportunity to explain those symptoms in detail.  Any triggers. Possibly highlight some family history.  Discuss any travel.  Talk about the foods you eat.  How you sleep. What you do for physical activity.  These are all important aspects of what a health appointment should include as these features are important in healing the body.

This is where integrative medicine or holistic medicine comes in.  It’s important to find a health care provider that can offer you the necessary time to listen to your symptoms/problems, and begin to delve into the root cause(s) of those symptoms.  As a health care provider, it’s important to give you, the patient/client, opportunity, information and support necessary to find health and wellness in your life.

Understand your body by listening to every little piece of information that it provides can feel like a daunting task, but indeed a necessary one.  Your body has the innate capacity to heal if you decide to take on that mission toward wellness. Your integrative practitioner will search for the root cause of your symptom(s) following a variety of different techniques.  You are an individual requiring individual attention as no two people or symptoms are alike.

Compiling a food and lifestyle journal is an important initial step for the integrative practitioner to view.  This would include everything you eat and drink, any symptoms that occur, how you sleep, when you are stressed, when and what you do for exercise, bathroom visits, and whatever else you think may be important.  Reviewing past blood work/test results and possibly the need to order other tests will also be beneficial.

Once your provider has a better understanding of the issues, you may be encouraged to explore different forms of healing such as energy medicine, whole nutrient dense foods, botanicals, bodywork, therapeutic grade essential oils, homeopathy, and physical therapy.  Being on your health journey in finding the root cause of symptoms can take time and energy and patience.

As Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” and “All disease begins in the gut”, you need to approach healing through elimination and detoxification while listening to your body as to what is causing your inflammation and energy (or lack of energy). This does not occur overnight.  It can take years of exploration, motivation and patience, while all along studying/reading everything you can get your hands on.

An integrative practitioner will examine your symptoms through a wider lens than a typical 7 minute office visit by looking at nutrition, lifestyle, sleep patterns, exercise patterns, stressors, support system, and belief system.  Today’s major chronic diseases (obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and more) can often be reversed through lifestyle changes, nutrition, exercise, and stress management.  Sadly, many of today’s conventional practitioners do not have this kind of training necessary to help their patients/clients in this manner.  You may need to look outside the box to receive the help you need.

Finding the solution(s) to your symptoms is passionate work.  Being an investigator of your health and practicing holistic medicine is more than running off a list of diagnoses and prescribing quick, ordinary fixes.  Searching for solutions is not accomplished in a 7 minute visit.  It can be accomplished by a zealous, dedicated, enthusiastic progressive practitioner all in the name of integrative and holistic medicine.


Natural Pet Care

Dogs, cats, bunnies, chickens, goats…you name it.  Once any of these become part of the family, they are always part of the family.  So we need to keep them healthy and active so they can stay with us as long as possible.  Personally, I have had a number of dogs and cats.  Each one of them was special in their own way.  Most lived to a ripe old age of 17 – 19 human years which is quite old in dog/cat years.

So what do we need to do to make sure that are pets staying healthy and happy?

  • Maintaining a healthy weight.  As in today’s society where obesity is at epidemic proportion, obesity in animals is also on the rise.  Specific breeds of dogs in particular (Labrador, German shepherd and other large dogs) can have joint/hip issues causing pain and inflammation.  Be aware of over feeding for the specific size and breed of dog.  Kibble ingredients should be looked at carefully just like you would read the label on any item that you would buy for your family.  Kibble should have no fillers, high fructose corn syrup, GMO corn/soy or an extended list of ingredients.  Some even prefer to make their own meal for their pets consisting of brown rice, veggies and grass-fed meat.  I recently needed to make this meal for my smaller dog and she gobbled it right up.  An evening snack could be a dog cracker with a dollop of plain yogurt (a good probiotic aiding in intestinal health). Pureed pumpkin is also good for intestinal issues in dogs.
  • Pure clean filtered water.   Whether indoor or outdoor, your pet needs plenty of water in order to stay hydrated and to flush their system (just like us).  If you have an outdoor animal, a special heater may be needed to keep the water from freezing in winter.  In summer, water has a tendency to evaporate so refilling the bowl frequently is a must. Don’t forget to wash out the bowl daily as bugs sometimes like to take a dip also.
  • Preventing fleas and ticks. With Lyme disease being quite prevalent, you want to make sure to check your pet daily for ticks and fleas.  Some years seem to be worse than others but still this poses a threat to the pets overall health.  For a number of years now I have been using a homemade spray of Purification Oil (Young Living Essential Oils) and distilled water.  My dogs get brushed daily followed by a “spraying” of this mixture.  It smells wonderful and totally does the job.  Cats generally don’t like a spray of anything so putting a few drops of the oil in your hands, rubbing them together and then rub over the fur. If a tick is found, a drop of Purification oil on the tick causes it to back out and die.  This spray mixture also can be used for humans too if going into the woods for a hike/walk or while gardening.
  • Movement. Just like we need to move every day so do our pets.  Keeping them active will help to keep their heart strong and maintain a good body weight.  Some dogs can be obsessed with ball or Frisbee throwing/catching so we need to know when enough is enough.  If overdone, injury can occur (especially as they age) and they can’t tell us what or where it hurts.  For my dogs in the past I have used acupuncture specifically for hip/joint inflammation. Reiki is also a welcome therapy.  Another treatment is making a blend of essential oils from the Raindrop Technique (for more information go to  www.deborahdittner.vibrantscents.com ).  Combine the oils in a small glass bottle with a roller top and apply to the affected area.  Initially the pet may wonder what you are doing (as mine did), but once they start getting relief, the bottle and you are a welcome site.
  • TLC (Tender Loving Care).  Have you hugged your pet today?!!!

The following are great reference books that I recommend for continued pet health care.

  • The Encyclopedia for Natural Pet Care by CJ Puotinen
  • Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M., Ph.D. & Susan Hubble Pitcairn
  • ADR The Animal Desk Reference Essential Oils for Animals by Melissa Shelton, D.V.M.
  • Essential Oils for Natural Pet Care by Melissa Shelton, D.V.M.

“Exercise is King and Nutrition is Queen”

“Exercise is king.  Nutrition is queen.  Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom”

 ~ Jack LaLanne

Whether you are a high school athlete, yogi, long distance runner or walker, or a weekend warrior, what you eat before, during, and after exercise can make all the difference in how well your body will perform and recover.

NUTRITION BEFORE EXERCISE

Fueling up for any practice, game or training regimen requires preparation.  It begins the day or night before with meals consisting of nutrient rich foods and proper rest.  The following day it’s important to have your pre-workout or pre-game snack or meal approximately 2-4 hours prior to the event.  The foods that you choose should be easy to digest.  If you choose a heavy or overly spicy meal, you could run the risk of feeling upset and bloated.  Also, if the meal isn’t digested before or shortly into the event, your meal could be stuck in your stomach and not accessible to the muscles for much needed fuel.  Any undigested food left in the stomach can sit there heavily creating fatigue and abdominal muscle spasms.

In general, you should aim for meals or snacks consisting of fat, fiber and protein as this combination will keep you feeling fuller longer.  Pre-game though, you want a lower fat, fiber and protein content.  Too much protein can lead to muscle cramping and decreased endurance.  Protein is necessary for muscle building and not needed for fuel.  A simple carbohydrate will be the healthiest, such as a fruit which burns more slowly increasing effectiveness.  Adding a fatty acid such as coconut oil will provide quick energy to burn as fuel in the liver.  An example of a pre-game snack would be dates filled with coconut oil. YUM!!

HYDRATION BEFORE, DURING ND AFTER

Proper hydration before, during and after the game or exercise time will decrease the stress on the body allowing it to work harder, perform better, and recover quicker. Much needed electrolytes will decrease muscle cramping and spasms allowing for better performance.  Pure water is important as are electrolytes that can be found in coconut water and homemade hydration drinks helping to maintain smooth muscle contractions and energy levels.  What you consume for fuel and hydration is totally in your hands.  No one is going to do it for you.  So listening to your body is once again extremely important because it can be the difference between an elite performance or a very mediocre one.  Fuel up wisely.

NUTRITION AFTER EXERCISE

After a hard workout or game, you want to eat a meal within 30 – 45 minutes for cellular reconstruction and recovery.  Your meal should consist of high quality food, including 1 part protein to 4 parts carbohydrate.  A wholefood shake consisting of 1 piece of fruit, a large handful of your favorite greens and a handful of hemp seeds or raw almonds all blended up is a great way to refuel immediately following any physical exercise.  Too much protein at this time will slow down recovery and should come from an alkaline source.

An hour later, you still don’t want to indulge in a large meal.  Large amounts of food require an increase of blood to the stomach causing it to work harder while digesting.  Oxygen is needed in the bloodstream so the muscles can recover.  Post-game or post-exercise nutrition needs alkalizing foods to repair the body by decreasing lactic acid buildup and physical stress.  Another quick and easy snack would be to blend a frozen banana with 1 cup almond milk and 1 cup of kale.

 

“Food is Fuel”

 

balance of nutrients comes into play.

  • Consider a lean protein for muscle repair (organic chicken, wild caught fish, nuts and seeds such as hemp)
  • A whole grain to nourish muscle tissue (brown rice, millet, quinoa)
  • Lots of produce to supply much needed whole foods (colorful vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, apples)
  • A healthy fat to aid in healing and circulation (avocado, wild caught fish, coconut oil, nuts, olive oil)
  • More fluids for rehydration

Treat your body to perform its best possible.  Not only does this mean providing nutrient rich wholesome foods but it also means knowing what not to put into your body.  Sugar creates inflammation in the body and can be found in numerous processed foods and drink.  Sugars can also lead to the production of fat specifically around the middle. So let’s fuel your body with nutrient dense foods and proper fluids leading to a healthy and active body.


Time for spring cleaning

Spring is in the air!  The birds are chirping, the tulips are blooming, and everyone wants to get outdoors and experience the fresh air, soak up some Vitamin D, and start up the grill.  But first we must take stock of those things in our homes that we either don’t want anymore or don’t need.  In other words, clear the clutter and move away from stagnation and spring clean.  Throw away some of the “stuff” or have a yard sale (who couldn’t use a few extra dollars!) and then say good-bye to the past and welcome in a new and healthy life.

There are actually two homes that we need to spring clean.  First is our physical home, and second is our physical body.  We tend to accumulate “things” in the form of outdated clothes, magazines, rusted tools and worn out shoes.  Our bodies also accumulate toxins and old food residue that need to be cleaned out.

Our home environment tells a lot about us…the colors we like, type of furnishings and household goods.  Spring clean the home by removing those items that no longer serve you.  Be true to yourself by making your house your home as this is the true reflection of who you really are.  You also need to look at the toxins in your home that you are exposed to on a daily basis.  Some toxins can’t always be controlled but this isn’t the case for everything.

One of the biggest problems in the home environment is Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).  These are chemicals found in many of your household items such as paint, furniture, carpeting, mattresses and bedding, cleaning products, and more.  Shower curtains; for example, is one item most can relate to as the smell of a new curtain is powerful.  This smell poisons the air and environment you breathe.  Candles and air fresheners are also adding to the indoor pollutants. And let’s not forget the cosmetics you use daily.  Check your labels for harmful chemicals such as parabens, phthalates and sodium laurel sulfate.

Sounds dismal I know but there are alternative and healthier choices you can make for your environment.  Consider a shower curtain that is 100% polyester – period.  You don’t want one that says added mildew resistance as that more than likely means some other toxin has been added.  Use glass containers instead of plastics.  For cooking, consider using stainless steel or cast-iron.  If possible, remove carpeting and consider hardwood flooring.

In order to spring clean our body, we may consider either cleansing or fasting.  To cleanse our body, we may reduce our food to simple fruits and vegetables, possibly some whole grains, and lots of water.  To fast, we may restrict most foods and drink lots of water, fresh vegetable and fruit juices, and soups.  We may then experience more energy for the body and the mind since less energy is needed for digestion.  Cleansing and fasting can improve concentration, raise spiritual mindfulness, improve our immune function, and encourage better digestion.

Whether you are on a special diet or not, you need to pay attention to the products you choose.  I encourage purchasing foods with only one ingredient such as broccoli or avocados or tomatoes. Consider a variety of colors and experiment with new vegetables or fruit frequently.  Avoiding processed sugary foods will allow you to eat as pure whole foods.  Whole foods are packed with nutrient dense vitamins and minerals, anti-oxidants, healthy fats, and so much more.  Purchase the best quality of food you can afford, and make your kitchen, your Wellness Center.

Let’s not forget to spring clean our heart while we are still in the cleaning mood.  By ridding of negative thoughts and bad habits we will be open to receive all of the good things in life that we deserve.  Get out in the fresh air for a walk or hike.  Join a class in meditation or yoga.  Find an activity that you thoroughly enjoy.  Do something fun and just for you on a daily basis.  Most of all – Smile – a smile will spring clean your soul!


Preparation is key!!

I often hear people say: “It is so hard to eat healthy on a budget”.  “Healthy eating is so expensive”.  “I don’t like to cook”.  “I don’t have time to cook”.  “I don’t want to cook a different meal for each family member”.  The fact is though that we need to take care of our bodies as it’s the only one we were given to live our life on the wonderful earth.  We are not here all that long so we need to make the best of what we have and use our resources carefully.

In order to eat healthy on a budget, we need to learn that preparation is key.  I love the quote: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.  So prepare we must!  Make this a family affair so everyone is on board with what needs to be done for healthy eating.

Shop locally.  Go to the Farmer’s Market or join a CSA.  Here you will find organic foods usually less expensive than in a grocery store.  There’s no middle man as you are buying directly from the grower.  Eating seasonally is usually cheaper and of better quality than those foods out-of-season.

Record your food expense account.  Keep track of what you spend for a few weeks to be best able to set an expense account.  Once set, use that amount of money that has been set aside strictly for food purchases.  Once that amount is gone, you are done for the week.  With that in mind, you then need to get creative in the kitchen and experiment with what is available.

Don’t waste.  Occasionally don’t grocery shop for a week and work with what you have in the kitchen making sure to use all produce that is in the refrigerator, frozen foods, and cooking/baking from total scratch.  This way you use up items in your pantry and there is no waste.  Plus you just saved a whole weeks’ worth of money!

Consider eating more plant-based foods.  Meat can be pricey when organic, hormone and antibiotic free.  Consider adopting “Meatless Monday” and possibly even another meatless day.  There are a variety of alternative sources of protein including bean, eggs and whole grains plus a variety of vegetables.

Purchase in bulk.  The bulk bins in either the grocery store or health food store can save you money.  Typically these foods have a long shelf life so you can buy large quantities.  Store your bulk purchases in glass containers so you can see when you’re running low.  These foods usually contain no added preservatives or unknown ingredients.

Purchase frozen.  High quality produce in winter months can sometimes be difficult to find.  When this is the case, head to the frozen food section as that is your next best bet.   These foods are picked at their peak and flash frozen retaining more nutrients.

Plan ahead.  Pick a day to sit down and plan your meals for the week.  Then head to the store and purchase only what you need to complete those meals.  Consider cooking one meal that will create two or even three different meals.  Get creative in the kitchen.  Once you get your food items home, have a family preparation time.  Cut up vegetables and bag ahead of time.  Semi-prepare salads leaving the dressings for meal time.

Leftovers.  Use leftovers for the next day’s lunch or spice it up for another meal during the week.  This saves money instead of buying from the restaurant around the corner from the office.  This also saves time and doesn’t waste food that is already prepared and ready to go.

Eat in.  Have you recently checked to see how much it costs to eat out at a restaurant or order take-out? Eating in will save you money.  Coffee or tea in a travel mug from home will save you money.  Pure filtered water from home brought in a glass or stainless container will save you money.  Snacks consisting of nuts and a piece of fruit or other snack from home will save you money when at the office.

The main message regarding eating healthy on a budget is PREPARATION!!  You can do it!  It may take a few weeks to get the hang of it but once you’ve got it…you’re set!


Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils

I need to praise the power of Mother Nature as she has given us everything we need on this planet to thrive.  Essential oils are the immune system of the plant and are considered to be mankind’s first medicine.  Essential oils are the aromatic volatile oils coming from plants or plant parts (roots, leaves, flowers, seeds, resin, shrubs, and more) penetrating our cells to increase oxygen uptake, improve absorption of nutrients, enhance longevity, and help your body to detoxify.  Usage includes applying topically, inhalation, or as a dietary supplement.  All of the body’s systems can benefit from using essential oils.

The athlete can benefit from the use of therapeutic grade essential oils as there are no side effects that pharmaceuticals have.  Essential oils, “the life blood of the plant,” can help in bringing balance to the body systems disrupted from travel (such as digestion, sleep), overuse injury and inflammation, and a variety of stressors.

Athletes are constantly dealing with bumps, bruises, and managing all sorts of acute injuries on a daily basis.  Recovery is the name of the game and maximizing recovery time is necessary to consistently maintain an elite level of performance.  Incorporating therapeutic grade essential oils into your lifestyle will bring nothing but positive results.  Some of these oils have the power to help relieve inflammation and pain when applied topically with a carrier oil like jojoba, olive, hemp or coconut, when applied neat (undiluted).  Other essential oils, when inhaled, have positive psychological effects that can help manage stress, anxiety and even depression while other oils help you sleep.  These oils are very potent and concentrated plant matter that can help anyone, especially the athlete.  See the list of therapeutic grade essential oils below and their functions.  Note that many specific oils can be used for many different conditions.

Inflammation:

Copaiba                                   Thyme                                     Melaleuca Alternifolia (tea tree)

Lavender                                 Peppermint                              Roman Chamomile

Nutmeg                                   Wintergreen                            Clove

 

Sleep:

Lavender                                 Cedarwood                             Vetiver

Valerian                                   Roman Chamomile                 Sandalwood

Marjoram                                 Orange                                                Grapefruit

 

Digestion:

Peppermint                              Lemon                                     Lemongrass

Ginger                                     Anise                                       Tangerine

Fennel                                     Spearmint                                Clove

 

Stress:

Lavender                                 Roman Chamomile                 Sandalwood

Frankincense                           Basil                                        Bergamot

Lemon                                     Grapefruit                               Ginger

 

Muscular:

Peppermint                              Vetiver                                                Helichrysum

Clove                                       Wintergreen                            Copaiba

Idaho Balsam Fir                    Lemon                                     Lavender

 

Muscles and Bones:

Basil                                        Peppermint                              Lemongrass

Marjoram                                 Cypress

Lavender