Tag Archives: diet

“Perfection”

What is perfection? According to Dictionary.com, perfect is defined as “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type.” However, when it comes to wellness, I am not certain there is an exact definition of an ideal type. What makes one individual healthy and happy may not necessarily work for someone else. Even the guidelines set out by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) regarding nutritional intake and the exercise standards promoted by the ACSM (American Academy of Sports Medicine) are just that: guidelines. Both organizations take large volumes of data from hundreds of thousands of people and create standards that fit the majority of the US population regarding what might constitute optimal health. These standards can’t possibly consider each individual’s unique genetic makeup and personal preferences for a fulfilling life.

So why do we strive for perfection when perfection is at best a guess of what might work for some people? Why do we pressure ourselves into comparing what we feel others are doing that seems to be superior, and quite obviously in our minds, the best way to pursue optimal health? Earth Girl recommends we reframe our thinking when we consider our daily habits and how they impact our wellness.

Instead of berating ourselves because we had a piece of cake at a friend’s birthday party and subsequently deciding we have no self control so we might as well give up on living a healthy lifestyle (because in a perfect world we wouldn’t eat any cake), let’s refocus. Birthday parties are fun and a small celebratory piece of delicious chocolate cake might be what we seek as perfection that day. We celebrated, we ate cake, we enjoyed and then we moved on to a healthy option for dinner later that night.

Instead of relinquishing a regular exercise routine because we missed one run to enjoy an evening out with our family (and in a perfect world we would not skip a run), let’s refocus. Time spent with family can also be active and, certainly, quality time with loved ones has amazing health benefits. Enjoy the spontaneity of the situation and clock your three miles the next day.

We often think that unless we pursue everything to its “perfect” ending, we might as well not pursue it at all. Such a sad way to live the adventure called life! Let’s strive to be perfectly imperfect. Or perhaps, imperfectly perfect. Decide what is best for the situation and use the opportunity to grow and enjoy life!

Earth Girl thinks perfection is what we make it. It looks different for everyone so stay on the adventure that makes you perfectly you!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher of Earth Girl Wellness

What does gluten-free really mean?

Gluten-free is currently one of the major health trends. Every decade or so, we have a new trend with thousands of new products. Some trends have greatly backfired on us such as the “fat-free trend” and the “eat only meat” trend when we found out, after several years of research into the health of individuals following them, that they weren’t so healthy after all. I am not necessarily claiming that gluten-free diets will meet the same ill demise as other trends, but consider this: Gluten-free meal plans can have health benefits, especially to those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Even individuals with no significant health risks arising from the consumption of gluten can eat gluten-free and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But buyer beware!

I often hear of individuals going on a gluten-free diet so that they can lose weight and “be healthier.” Great! I applaud any efforts to engage in a healthier lifestyle. However, often times, a gluten-free diet is filled with highly processed, low fiber, empty calorie foods. It’s not healthy at all! Gluten-free pancakes, gluten-free cookies, gluten-free toaster pastries certainly fit the bill for a gluten-free diet! But are they healthy? Not so much. Nor are gluten-free pizzas full of preservatives, gluten-free pasta dishes with no veggies or gluten-free sandwiches full of highly processed cheese, mayonnaise and other “unmentionables.” Also consider that many of these processed, gluten-free items are pretty darn expensive! You end up throwing money away on food that has “no life” and certainly isn’t healthy!

So what’s a gluten-free health nut to do? Look at other whole food options that are naturally gluten-free. There are so many healthy, inexpensive options available that no one should feel confined by a gluten-free diet. All fruits and veggies are gluten-free, so indulge in plenty of those! Beans also gluten-free. Grains such as quinoa, rice, buckwheat (in spite of its name) and amaranth are all excellent sources of fiber filled carbohydrates. Nuts and seeds? Gluten-free! A wonderfully healthy and delicious gluten-free plate would include a preferred vegetable (or two!), a healthy dose of protein such as organic chicken breast, and a side of rice or quinoa.

Earth Girl recommends you break free from the highly marketed, gluten-free products lining the grocery store shelves. Focus instead on lovingly grown, naturally gluten-free products that you can find every weekend at most any farmer’s market!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher

Healthy Skin in Winter

With a new year before us, it’s time to get away from the bad habits we developed during the end of the year chaos. We don’t know about you, but we’ve noticed that our skin is certainly paying the price. Let’s start 2017 with a fresh, clean slate by committing to taking better care of it with these easy steps:

Put some thought into the products you are using as part of your daily routine. We are in love with charcoal soaps. They help draw out skin impurities and make room for your moisturizer to do its job effectively. It’s also great if your poor dietary choices over the last month (ahem…guilty) are showing as blemishes on your skin. Our current favorite is by Apotheke. The handcrafted bar soap is stirred, poured, cut, and wrapped by hand. To top it all off, it is made with natural ingredients like coconut, olive, and palm oil. Find it on www.apothekeco.com.

obagiOf course, it should be obvious that you need to moisturize. Hydrate facial moisturizers by Obagi Medical are great for rejuvenating the skin after cleansing. It also doesn’t hurt to visit a professional and develop a regime that works best for you. For that, we place all of our trust in the ladies at Skin Care Consulting (www.skincareconsultinginc.com).

Protect the fruits of your moisturizing by taking one extra step before bed. Sleep with a humidifier. Not only will it help with your sinuses and even snoring, it also comforts your skin after a day in the cold, dry air of winter. When you wake up, you will retain some of that moisture in your face, lips, and even your hands.

Make sure you aren’t sabotaging all of your effort by putting the wrong things into your body. If you want that glowing, smooth complexion to return now that all of the holiday cakes and cookies are gone, think of each meal like cleansing and moisturizing. Our favorite solutions in the winter months are adding more salmon to our diets and committing to juicing every day. Try tossing two carrots, a beet, some ginger root, an apple, and just a splash of lemon into your juicer for a drink that will boost your energy and help your skin.

Use an infuser water bottle to really get the serving of fruit that you need every day. An extra bonus? It makes drinking water a lot more satisfying. If you’re trying to cut out soda (which, let’s be honest, everyone should do), this is a great way to ease yourself into the habit of drinking water instead. You should try to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, so add some blueberries and strawberries to those servings and pretend it’s summer!

Back to the Basics

At various points during the day, I check Facebook and my email like many of you— my feed flooded with products and programs promising happiness and fulfillment, for a price. The thing is— whether your happiness is temporarily increased by clothes, electronics, or fast food— the high is soon over. It is followed by the heavy burden of guilt over purchasing something you didn’t actually need or the feeling of pure exhaustion after a grease-covered meal.

If you want to take control over subtle influences in your daily routine (and live life just a little lighter) consider the following options:

  1. Live below your means.

    Coupon queens everywhere are about to really hate me, but understand that I do mean well. Stocking up on items you will definitely use with coupons is a fantastic idea— as long as you really do use them. Otherwise you end up with a large amount of food you have to throw out because it expired, and the money you thought you saved becomes money you could have put towards existing debt or a vacation.

    Do some research on minimalism and see what parts of it you can apply to your own life. Minimalism gives less power to the objects that surround us— but it doesn’t take away the meaning of the important things in our lives. Instead, it allows us to consciously choose what is important and why without being bogged down by meaningless objects that hurt our health, relationships, and hold us back from reaching our full potential. Visit www.theminimalists.com to see if you can benefit from any of their suggestions and tailor them to fit your needs!

    Donate items that you don’t use to people who really need them. The obvious choice is Goodwill, but you can also post free items on websites like www.freecycle.org. They have a specific section for Roanoke already, so it is as easy as going on their site, creating an account, and posting what you have to give away.

2. Take charge of your diet.

Organize your kitchen to encourage your family to spend more time cooking, cleaning, and eating healthy. Place items in drawers where they will be convenient to reach when you need them and get rid of extra dishes, cups, and utensils that no longer serve a purpose. When you have more space, your kitchen looks clean and welcoming after a long day of work or running errands. You may even look forward to getting there and spending time with your family rather than waiting in line at McDonalds to pick up dinner.

While we are talking about fast food, it is also important that you try to spend your food budget wisely. Make a list of things you need before you go grocery shopping and stick to that list. We have fallen into a habit in which we place very high value on convenience. Therefore, if it is on an end cap and on sale, we are far more likely to add $3 here and $5 there to our basket without thinking twice about it. Unfortunately, many of those products are not healthy and can include chemicals and preservatives that leave you hungry, tired, and even sick. Commit to the list— accounting for every meal during the week. You’ll save money AND feel better at the end of the day.

61VWkE9iEPL._SX419_BO1,204,203,200_Consider growing your own fruits and vegetables— it’s possible, even in the city! Look into making some of the staples in your pantry by yourself. With a little practice, you can make your own cheese for 1/3 of the store price and bake your own bread for about fifty cents per loaf. No matter how committed you are to the idea of sustainable living, Woman-Powered Farm by Audrey Levatino is a great book to add to your library. From teaching you the basics on raised garden beds and farm animals to operating farm machinery, it is perfect for the woman who wants to become more self-sufficient.

3. Reorganize your schedule

Completely banning electronics from your house is unreasonable, but cutting down on your TV time and opening a book is better for your brain. Get out of the house with your family, or on your own, and hike one of our area’s beautiful trails. See the world around you without a camera phone lens. Choose activities that will inspire you to be a healthier, happier version of yourself. Very often, happiness is just outside of your comfort zone.

Make time for energy-saving activities like hanging clothes on a line or chopping wood for a wood stove this winter. Not only will you stay active, but you will save money on your electric bills. If these ideas are too extreme for you, ease yourself into it. Bike to work or carpool if you can, keep those lights turned off, and set the temperature in your house to a comfortable but reasonable number. Little changes now can make a huge difference over time.

Choose any of these suggestions and tweak them to apply to your circumstances. At the very least, you may find that it is easier to identify the subtle influences that challenge your happiness and follow your own path instead.

Stick to Your Diet

bellaweb2Halloween is almost here, followed by Thanksgiving next month and then (dare we say it?) Christmas! While many people find joy in the holiday season, for those trying to lose weight it can be the most miserable time of the year. Fortunately, it is possible to stay dedicated to your diet while surrounded by unhealthy food.

Colin Christopher, author of Success Through Manipulation, provides a few great tips on staying healthy in the face of tempting sweets and foods: 

  • Don’t skip meals this holiday season: Some people skip meals thinking they will be able to consume more goodies at Halloween, more turkey and stuffing at Thanksgiving and more of Christmas dinner.  This will guarantee your failure as it leads to increased hunger, binge eating and depriving your body of necessary calories to convert to energy.
  •  There’s no such thing as eating healthy now to balance out bad meals later: Many people think living on salads and fruit now gives them permission to indulge in whatever they want later.  If you’re trying to lose weight and eat right, salads and fruit are a good choice, but stuffing yourself full of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie later on will still bring plenty of negative consequences. 
  • Have a plan: Bad food choices are going to be in abundance this time of year.  Have a plan in place so you don’t succumb to these negative choices.  Choose healthier options, drink plenty of water which is good for you and will fill you up, and stop eating when your body feels satisfied. 
  • Don’t compare yourself to others: Just because Aunt Mildred shows up to Thanksgiving dinner and she’s 100 pounds heavier than you, doesn’t give you permission to go on an eating spree.   
  • You are responsible: If you gain five pounds at Thanksgiving, it’s your fault.  Stop blaming the holiday, the Halloween candy, the turkey or the pumpkin pie.  It’s very possible to control what you eat this time of year but it’s ultimately your responsibility. 
  • Learn to say no: When Aunt Mildred insists that you try her world famous pecan pie, politely decline.  Explain to her that you are on a diet and very serious about getting healthy.  She will understand. Same goes for the kids or the neighbors with candy on Halloween. 
  • Exercise doesn’t give you the right to eat poorly: Many people think they can go for a long bike ride or hit the gym a few times during the holidays so they can indulge in the holiday feast.  Working out and exercise is great, but it’s never a pass to load up on bad food at the holidays. 
  • Let your clothes be a reminder: Don’t wear something that fits loosely and hides any excess fat.  Wear something that just fits your body and may not be the most flattering.  Let this be a reminder when you grab for that dessert, second serving or the Halloween bowl. This is also a great way to reinforce the idea in your subconscious mind that it’s time to get healthy. 
  • Traveling for the holidays is no excuse: A lot of patients tell me they indulged in fast food or a bag of chips because it was the only option at the airport.  When traveling, pack a healthy meal before you board your flight or hit the road this holiday season.   
  • Dig deep: Whether the temptation is Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies or other holiday season food, dig deep and ask yourself how bad you want to see results.  If you really commit to the process, you can lose weight and get healthy – even at the holidays.  Being partially committed never works. 

Article contributed by Colin Christopher

Bella Girls Get Healthy!

When Bella girls Cory, Stacey and Hayleigh decided to try Pure Barre together, they knew they would need to commit to the workout routine in order to see significant changes in their lives. By signing up for a three-month membership, and committing to attending class at least three times a week, they began to feel healthier and lose inches within their first month.

“The first class was a killer!” Cory laughs and says, “I definitely felt it for a few days afterward. I have really been challenged, in a good way, to improve my overall fitness level.”

pb1In fact, all three participants are starting to notice a difference in their bodies. “I have noticed tremendous changes in my upper body strength in particular,” explains Cory, “and I am definitely tightening my core.”

Pure Barre is different from other workout programs. The moves are small, and the repetition really inspires change in your muscles. The instructors understand if you need to modify the movements to make them safe for you, but they encourage you to push yourself and reach your full potential. They also let you know when you are doing something right.

“I love how the instructors praise you by name in class,” says Stacey, “that helps when you are really trying to focus and have that mind/body experience. It is also incredibly helpful that, if they see you in the wrong position, they come over and try to help you. They want all of us to get the most out of the time we spend there and their attention to our strengths and weaknesses helps us achieve that.”

Fitness Goals:

Cory: “My fitness goals were to integrate a regular fitness regime to my week again after several months ‘off.’ I also want to strengthen and tone my body.”

Stacey:”My goals were very simple. I just wanted to get through the first class! Going into something with no idea what to expect is always a scary thing. I have found the workouts to be easier to complete each time, and I love the fact that when I stretch the next day I feel my muscles hurting. I know I am doing something right!”

Hayleigh: “I definitely wanted to tone and strengthen my body, shedding some of the weight I have gained in the past two years. For me, this is part of a lifestyle change. My ultimate goal is to have more energy and be healthier—losing weight and inches would be an added bonus.”

pbDieting:

To get the most out of any workout routine, it is important that your other daily choices reflect your new healthy lifestyle. Cory already had a well balanced, low carb diet that she continues to follow. Stacey and Hayleigh, however, had to make a few changes.
“I am trying to keep it low carb,” Stacey explains, “I am eating more fruits and vegetables—staying away from beer and bread. It kind of defeats the workout to indulge in those after class.”

“My biggest problem is turning down a slice of pizza when my husband makes one for dinner,” says Hayleigh,” However, the more healthy food choices I make, the more energy I have throughout the day. I also sleep better at night if I let him have the pizza to himself.”

All three women are excited to continue the program and share their results with you over the next three months. In the meantime, you should check out Pure Barre for yourself and let us know what you think! Visit their website, www.purebarre.com to find a class that fits your schedule.

10 Foods Impacting Your Mood

Did you know the food you eat can literally make you feel happy or sad? Nutrition is one of the main components of mental health, so it’s important to stock your plate with good food while cutting some of those less beneficial alternatives.

“Food can definitely alter your mood,” says Dr. Shoshana Bennett.“Sometimes the effect is immediate, other times there’s a delay of an hour or so. Over time, the wrong foods can create a continuous foul mood or negative state of mind. Many people still aren’t making the connection between their emotional well-being and what they ate for dinner – or the last 200 dinners.”

Bennett explains that certain foods can negatively affect the neurotransmitters in our brains; these chemicals control sleep, appetite, mood and more. Bad foods can also cause inflammation, which may lead to other physical and mental disorders. She recommends eating these five types of food to feel happy, healthy and balanced:

1. Complex carbohydrates
Foods like beans, potatoes and whole grains are necessary for staying upbeat, as the complex carbohydrates they contain help the brain make serotonin, a mood-changing chemical. Without enough complex carbohydrates, a person can become angry and depressed.

 2. Cold-water fish
Salmon, mackerel and sardines are high in the omega-3s that help boost mood. Several studies show that a deficit in omega-3 fatty acids is linked to anxiety and depression. Most people in the U.S. don’t eat enough fresh, cold-water fish, so supplements are required.

“It’s important to use omega-3 supplements of pure quality,” says Bennett. “This means knowing where the fish comes from and how the supplements are manufactured.”

3.  Selenium
“Research shows people with low levels of the mineral selenium have poorer moods, including the tendency toward depression,” Bennett says.

Foods rich in selenium include shellfish, tuna, nuts, seeds, fish, pork, chicken and pasta. Bennett cautions that too much of this mineral is not healthy either, and recommends checking with a health care practitioner for guidance before taking selenium as a supplement.

4. Folic acid
A diet too low in folic acids can deplete serotonin. Research suggests that depression can be relieved by taking folate supplements or eating more food containing folate, such as spinach, lentils, garbanzo and other beans, romaine lettuce and broccoli.

“Folate is water-soluble, so your body does not store it,” says Bennett. “You need to eat foods regularly that contain it.”

5.  Vitamin D
Vitamin D-rich foods like eggs, milk, cheese and fatty fish (like tuna) help to activate serotonin. Furthermore, research shows a strong connection between low levels of vitamin D and symptoms of depression.

Knowing what foods to skip is just as important as knowing which foods to eat, so Bennett recommends cutting down on these “bad-mood foods”:

1. Sugar
Eating sugar provides a rush of energy, but soon afterward, blood glucose levels drop and lead to low mood and short-temperedness.

2. Sweeteners
Aspartame and other sweeteners can cause depression and insomnia since they block the production of serotonin. If you want a sweetener but are trying to avoid sugar, use stevia or xylitol instead.

3.  Processed carbs
Snack foods, white bread, most cereals and pasta contain processed carbs that negatively affect blood sugar levels the same way as sugar.

4. Hydrogenated oils
Trans fats are physically and mentally dangerous because they can contribute to depression and other illnesses.

5. Sodium
High sodium can negatively affect the neurological system and contribute to depression and fatigue.

“You don’t have to make major changes all at once,” says Bennett. “It’s often more beneficial if one small, realistic alteration is made at a time. Once you experience the payoff – not just read or hear about them – then it becomes fun!”