Think About Your Food Today…

Mindful Eating

“Contemplating our food for a few seconds before eating, and eating in mindfulness, can bring us much happiness” Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindless eating can lead to poor food choices, often foods high in sugar and fat and allow us to become disconnected with what we are eating and how it makes us feel. If we just take time before we eat our meals and become mindful of what we are putting in our bodies we can really start to make that mind/body connection. The intent here is to slow down, enjoy the taste, digest and metabolize all those wonderful nutrients you are eating. Learning what this feels like and practicing it in your everyday life is so important.

I challenge you today, and every other day, to be mindful of the foods you are eating and how it makes you feel. Keeping a daily journal can be a very helpful exercise in making this an everyday habit.

Cheers to Mindful, Healthy Living!

Crossfit’s Dirty Little Secret

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Crossfit’s Dirty Little Secret

I have many friends who do Crossfit and have seen tremendous results, which is terrific! I, myself, have even tried it several times and have felt my muscles going to work long after the workout was over – something many of us like to experience.  On the other hand, I have heard several stories within the last few years of people getting injured and/or experiencing extreme overexertion.  This being said, I found this article to be quite interesting in terms of the negative aspects of overexerting your body to the extreme. The last paragraph sums it up very nicely…

“Exercise is just about the best thing you can do for your body, but in the case of Crossfit, we’re left to ponder the question, is this workout worth the risk? Can the culture adapt to one that embraces safe training principles? Do coaches truly have the ability to detect what a proper training load is for their athletes? Only time will tell, but the future of CrossFit may depend on it.”

For me and for my body, I will be sticking with my spin, plyometrics, and zumba classes while also continuing to practice yoga. 🙂

It’s Pumpkin Time!

It’s that time of year when I start pulling out my pumpkin spiced candles, decorating the house with fall colors, ordering pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkin flavored donuts (occasionally of course😜), enjoying the smell of the fresh fall air, windows open, and having football on all weekend long. Nothing compares to this amazing feeling of peace and happiness.
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One thing that’s for certain is that pumpkin is ALL around us, which is so exciting as it is such a multi-functioning, excellent source of nutrition! I can’t help but take advantage of it this season. Whether I am baking pumpkin muffins, pancakes, sauce, or adding it to my smoothie, I will certainly be experimenting with all kinds of recipes this season. The good ones I will be sure to post!

This being said, I wanted to share how cooked pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds can aid in your nutrition and well-being in hopes that you may be consuming lots of it this season!
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• Pumpkin is a great source of fiber and low in calories, 3 grams of fiber and only 49 calories per 1 cup. A fiber-rich diet has been consistently known to aid in weight loss.

• 1 cup of cooked pumpkin provides you with more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids in vision.

• The antioxidant beta-carotene found in pumpkin has been researched and found to possibly play a role in cancer prevention.

• The same free radical neutralizing powers of the carotenoids in pumpkin that may keep cancer cells at bay have also been known to diminish the signs of wrinkles.

• Studies have shown that pumpkin seeds are naturally rich in plant based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown to lower LDL, aka “bad” cholesterol.

• The amino acid found in pumpkin seeds has been known to be an all natural mood enhancer. Grab a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds to improve your mood!

• Cooked pumpkin is a great source of potassium, even better than a banana! 1 cup of cooked pumpkin provides you with 564 milligrams of potassium vs. 422 grams in a banana. This is a great post workout snack as it refuels the body for faster recovery.
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All of this information has been gathered from various resources and intended to provide valuable information to improve overall health and well-being.

Cheers to Mindful, Healthy Living!

Antioxidants = Pigments of Color

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Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Experts believe that damage to our cells play a huge part in a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), arthritis, and many more. Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables can play a major role in fighting off this damage to our cells and keeping our immune system strong.

As my journey continues through The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I continue to see the incredible value that fruits and vegetables have on one’s health and wellness. To put it simply – incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet as much as you can, as often as you can – it’s a no brainer. The health benefits are irreplaceable.

Generally speaking, the more colorful the fruit or vegetable is, the more antioxidants it contains. A few of the major antioxidants are beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. Below you will find a list of specific fruits and vegetables that contain these powerful antioxidants.

Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon

Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes

Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds

Kick the Old Coffee Habit with Teeccino!

teecicnoHave you ever found yourself trying to reduce or quit your coffee intake but just can’t seem to kick the old habit? I find myself there often, not because I think caffeine in moderation is necessarily bad for you, but because I feel that the negative effects of addiction to caffeine are far worse. For me, I typically have a cup of coffee in the morning because I think it will help “wake me up”, not because I actually enjoy the taste of it. I don’t in fact, unless it’s a blueberry iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts then I do really enjoy it, but hot coffee most of the time isn’t great tasting to me. Like many of us, I drink it because I think it will “jumpstart” my day. Unfortunately, in the last few months I have noticed myself trying to sleep in a few hours on the weekends, but waking up with these debilitating headaches trying to understand why. Eventually I realized it was because I wasn’t getting my daily dose of caffeine at 6:30 am so I was getting caffeine withdrawal headaches. I have tried to quit but just find myself reverting back to the morning coffee ritual.

Last weekend I met up with my friend, Nadia, who is also a nutrition buff (read her blog!) and we were discussing some of our health concerns. She was so excited to tell me about this caffeine free, mostly organic, herbal coffee her husband has been drinking and raving over. It’s called Teeccino. That same day I went to the natural health store and found Teeccino in the coffee section and bought my first bag of grounds. I went home and brewed myself some just to see what the hype was all about. Nadia’s husband was right – it was delicious! They have a few flavors but I opted for the original that had a sweeter taste to it, which I liked. To wean yourself off of coffee, they recommend mixing 1 part coffee with 1 part Teeccino and eventually decreasing the coffee amount until you are drinking pure Teeccino.

The health benefits are amazing as well! Not only am I starting my day off with a healthy dose of nutrients for natural, sustainable energy, I can also snooze on the weekends without starting my day with a headache. Win, win!

food anxietyFeeling anxious about something? Instead of reaching for those chips or cookies try going for a walk, maybe hit the gym with some friends or even just do some yoga stretches to relax the body and the mind. Exercising will release endorphins which are natural occurring chemicals in the brain that release a “feel good” feeling, typically known for reducing anxiety and stress. Re-evaluate the situation before turning to food. Be mindful.❤

Food for Thought – Primary vs. Secondary Foods

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A lot of what we have been learning at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition has been very eye opening and educational for me.  This being said, everything I have learned thus far has been incredibly exciting but one of the most powerful concepts that has stuck with me and I feel is a very important concept to share is the difference between Primary and Secondary Foods.

What are Primary and Secondary Foods? 

Primary foods become what surrounds us and makes us who we are; specifically, our relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality.  When one of these is out of whack or just plain stinky at the time, it can throw our entire emotional well being off, ultimately disrupting our plans to maintain a healthy, well balanced lifestyle.

Secondary foods become the food we eat on our plates that nourish our body.  When our primary foods are balanced, the secondary foods become, well, secondary and we don’t eat because we are stressed, bored or just sad, we eat because our body requires the nourishment.  This makes perfect sense to me knowing the effects that my primary foods can have on my health and well-being and eventually my secondary foods. 

For example, from 2010-2011, I went through a period of time where I felt that my life was misplaced. I was in a long distance relationship debating for over a year whether or not to move and change my career and leave my family and friends.  I also had a job that was extremely stressful and taxing. It was an incredibly overwhelming and exhausting time for me.  I ate fast food once a day, went out with my friends on the weekends overindulging on adult beverages, half assed my workouts because I didn’t have the motivation to get a good sweat going and ultimately felt incredibly defeated at the end of the day. 

It was a never ending cycle, until one day I woke up.  I decided to do something for myself and change my life for the better.  I had no idea the happiness it would bring to me at the time but I decided to take a chance as I knew something needed to change.  I made the decision to pick up and move closer to my boyfriend.  I found a job that was a positive move in my career, I found happiness and contentment living in the same city with the person I loved and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I continued to develop and grow my relationships with my family and friends despite the distance and I worked on creating a healthy balance between everything I know now as “primary foods”.  I can happily say that I finally feel that I am on the right path to a happier and healthier me.  INN has taught me so much over the past several months, one being that primary foods certainly make a difference!

I challenge you to take this time to reflect on your primary foods and see what areas you can improve on.  Your health and happiness will naturally fall into place.  The nutrition aspect is a work in progress but as a Health Coach in training, I am confident myself or another Health Coach you feel comfortable with will guide you and teach you the fundamentals of nutrition that work best for your body, creating a healthier, happier YOU!  

Here are a few ways to reflect and work on balancing out your primary foods:

1)      Allow yourself to evaluate your relationships.  Is there an area that needs attention, perhaps a friendship that needs repair?

2)      Is your job stressful and leaving you feeling anxious when you try to sleep at night?  It may be time to re-evaluate and see if there is another option for you within the same field/company.  Talk to your manager and communicate how you are feeling. It may just be as simple as getting up from your desk and taking a few 10 minute walks throughout the day to relax. 

3)      Have you been out of the “work-out” routine for so long and can’t seem to be inspired to get back in it?  Start slow, do a few things here and there to get your heart rate elevated.  Keep a log of your activity each day and document how you feel.  Read fitness blogs, magazines, talk to other fitness gurus in your office – get inspired!

4)      Spirituality – this is always a touchy subject for me as I feel that this topic is very personal.  Keep on doing what you’re doing and consider exploring if you feel so inclined. 🙂 

Cheers to Mindful, Healthy Living!!